Muslim refugees face new horrors in camps

Muslim refugees face new horrors in camps Aid workers tell of Hindu 

terror tactics and appalling conditions 

INDIA S. N. M. Abdi in Calcutta 


March 25, 2002 


Around midnight, thousands of Muslims in Ahmedabad's largest relief  

camp at the Shah-e-Alam shrine are woken by the shrill cry of Hindu  mobs 

baying for their blood. But Rafiq Ahmed, who runs the camp,  tells the 


refugees to go back to sleep.

     "We found out that Vishwa Hindu Parishad hoodlums are now playing 

cassettes of blood-curdling cries and howls on loudspeakers at  night 

to intimidate inmates and deprive them of sleep," Mr Ahmed  said.

He added that the police were ignoring the new terror tactics of  this 

and other anti-Muslim groups in Gujarat, where Hindu-Muslim  tensions 

continue to simmer after the recent rioting that left more  than 700 



Gujarat's Bharatiya Janata Party Government is facing severe criticism 

for the appalling conditions in state-run relief camps  for 75,000 

Muslims displaced by large-scale killings, arson and  looting by Hindu 



The Government also is under pressure for its inaction during the 

rioting, when Hindus killed more than 650 Muslims and burned shops  and 

homes throughout Gujarat after the deaths of 58 Hindu activists  on a train

set on fire by a Muslim mob on February 27.


Police said a curfew was in force yesterday in the Vijalpur area of

Ahmedabad and in Jambusar in Bharuch district after scattered  



In the latest unrest yesterday a mob killed a Muslim woman in

Vijalpur, a Hindu-majority area of Ahmedabad, and one person was  


in the same area, police said.


A leading non-governmental organisation, Sahmat, has accused the

Government of discriminating against the victims of violence,  mostly

Muslims, living in shelters throughout the state.


Aid workers say there is an acute shortage of food, cooking oil,

sugar and other needs such as medicine, clothes and blankets. The

Hindustan Times newspaper reported that each camp, housing about  3,000

people, had only six toilets and people received only 60  grams of 

wheat a



Authorities are stopping relief trucks sent by Muslim charities to

the camps, claiming they have received reports that the trucks  might 


smuggling arms.


"There is no sign of the fabled Gujarati philanthropy which was so

much in evidence during last year's earthquake," said Harsh Mander,  of

Action Aid India.


 "The Muslim riot victims are being looked after almost exclusively  by

Muslim organisations. It is as though the monumental pain, loss,  


and injustice suffered by them is the concern only of  other Muslim



Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet have not visited any of

the 29 shelters, blaming security concerns.


Father Jimmy Dhabi, a Jesuit priest in Ahmedabad, said government

officials refused to lend his group a single truck to deliver food  to 




He said: "They won't give us police protection. The other day, armed

Hindu men stopped us as we were coming out of a Muslim  neighbourhood 


held a spear to our throats."


Christians also have been targeted by Hindu mobs in the violence

gripping the state.


Besides food and shelter, aid workers said there was also an urgent

need for counselling to help the dispossessed cope with  psychological



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