Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'

Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK 

Gujarat Muslim women 'rape victims'


By Jyotsna Singh 

BBC correspondent in Delhi  

Muslim women were subjected to "unimaginable inhuman

and barbaric" sexual violence during recent communal

riots in the west Indian state of Gujarat, according

to a woman's panel that has visited the state.

Many women suffered the worst forms of sexual

violence, including gang-rape, says their report, "How

has the Gujarat massacre affected minority women. The

survivors speak", released on Tuesday. 

The violence began when 58 passengers were killed when

a train carrying Hindu activists was torched on 27

February. It led to one of the worst bouts of

Hindu-Muslim violence in the state.

The official death toll in last month's riots has now

risen to 778, although welfare groups put the figure

at about 2000.


Most of the rape victims were burnt alive, Tuesday's

report says.  

The head of the team, Syeda Hameed, told a Delhi press

conference that the impact of such violence on women

has been physical, economic and psychological. 

The team - one of the first to visit Gujarat in the

aftermath of the riots - says it found evidence of

police complicity in perpetrating crime against women.

They allege that the police refused to file complaints

by the victims.

The team also demanded the announcement of a special

compensation package.

The panel also demanded that a special tribunal be set

up to ensure justice for victims. 

The report also said there was no evidence of any

support from the state authorities in Gujarat to help

women who had suffered attack. 

Special guards 

In parliament on Tuesday, junior Home Minister ID

Swamy said the Gujarat Government had taken a

pro-active role in supporting relief camps run by

non-government organisations and that essential

commodities were being supplied. 

Meanwhile, the Gujarat Government announced special

security measures to ensure protection to nearly

200,000 students who will be taking exams from


Gujarat's Education Minister Anandi Patel says special

buses guarded by the police will be made available to

help students travel in six riot-affected districts

where exams have been postponed. 

Sporadic violence in Gujarat's main city, Ahmedabad,

has continued with another death in police firing

during clashes between Hindus and Muslims late on

Monday night.

At least 11 areas of Ahmedabad district are still

under curfew.


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