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Guj to rebuild shrines razed in 2002

Statesman News Service |

The Gujarat govt had till now steadfastly opposed the idea of paying any compensation for the shrines
Rathin Das
[email protected]
Ahmedabad, 1 September
In a major turn-around from its earlier stand, the Narendra Modi administration has finally agreed to pay compensations to rebuild the religious shrines which were destroyed during the 2002 riots following the killing of 58 people in the Sabarmati Express fire at Godhra.
The Gujarat government had till now steadfastly opposed the idea of paying any compensation for the shrines razed by the mobs out to avenge the killings at Godhra on 27 February, 2002.
As many as 535 religious places, mostly mosques and roadside ‘dargahs’, were destroyed during the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
Following a petition by the Islamic Relief Committee (Gujarat), the Gujarat High Court had few months back ordered the Gujarat Government to pay compensations for rebuiliding the shrines destroyed in the 2002 riots.
But the Gujarat government had challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court, claiming that there was no provision in law to provide for such compensation to rebuild religious structures.
In a complete volte-face in the apex court during a hearing last week, the Gujarat government counsel said that the state is now ready to pay compensation for rebuilding the destroyed shrines.
The State government told the Supreme Court bench that it would soon prepare a scheme for rebuilding the religious shrines on the lines of the compensations paid for the destroyed houses, shops and other establishements, State Addditional Advocate General Tushar Mehta said.
The apex court had asked the Gujarat Government Counsel whether the state was inclined to come out with any scheme about the compensation.
The next hearing of the case is scheduled on 1 October when the Gujarat Government would present the relevant documents in the Supreme Court bench, Mehta said.
However, rights activists in the state view the Modi administration’s volte face as a ‘sad joke’. Father Cedric Prakash of the Prashant Centre of Justice and Peace told The Statesman that the move to pay compensation after a full eleven years after the riots is just to woo the minority votes.
"It is the government’s responsibility to protect each and every monument and shrines of every religion, which they failed to do. It is a sad joke to offer to rebuild the shrines now", Father Prakash told this correspondent on Sunday.
If the Gujarat government is serious about rebuilding the damaged shrines then it should first allow the re-construction of the mausoleum of the 16th century poet Vali Gujarati who transcended all religions and regions, said Father Cedric Prakash who had been spearheading the campaigns to seek justice for the 2002 riot victims.
Vali Gujaratis ‘dargah’, just half a kilometre away from the Police Commissioner’s office was not only destroyed by the mobs but the city Municipal Corporation’s bulldozers had cleared the area completely and laid a new road at the site.
The Gujarat government has thwarted all attempts to rebuild the memorial during the last one decade.