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Gujarat riots: It took govt 10 yrs and a rap to table NHRC report

The Gujarat government tabled the NHRC report only on the last day of the budget session to prevent the matter being discussed at length in the assembly.

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Ten long years after the Godhra incident and the subsequent riots that left a bloody trail in the state, the Gujarat government finally tabled the National Human Rights Commission's 2002-03 report that makes a mention of the incident and what went wrong. Incidentally, like the CAG report, the government tabled the NHRC report only on the last day of the budget session to prevent the matter being discussed at length in the assembly.

It should be noted that the government bothered to table the report only after it came under heavy criticism by the high court. The court was hearing the case regarding compensation for religious structures damaged during the 2002 riots. While asking the government to compensate for the damage to the structures the high court had criticised the government for not tabling the report within six months of it being made.

This was the first annual report of the NHRC after the 2002 riots. The report had criticised the inadequate response from the Gujarat government on the observation and recommendations made by the commission.

The report further said that many of the misgivings expressed by the commission proved to be well-founded and that the initial failure of the government to protect human rights was compounded by the failure to provide justice to those whose rights were violated.

The report further said that despite the volatile situation the government had insisted on going ahead with the Gaurav yatra and Jagannath yatra in the month of July 2002. Both were later postponed due to pressure from the highest level.

The commission in its report said that it had recommended giving prominent riot cases including the Sabarmati carnage, Gulbarg society, Naroda Patia, Best Bakery, and Sardarpura cases among others to be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI). "But the government refused on the ground that the probe was already going on and the move will only delay it further," said the report.

The commission also criticised the government for not responding properly to queries relating to the riots and remedial measures taken by the government.

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