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Gujarat: facts & reality

Gujarat: facts & reality

Author: Gujarat Government
Publication: India Today
Date: May 6, 2002

Introduction: The ongoing smear campaign run by divisive elements against the Gujarat Government lies exposed in the face of facts.

After 58 passengers aboard the Sabarmati Express died in Godhra on February 27, the entire state of Gujarat was tense. On March 1, over 2,000 people in Sanjeli, a village of 8,000 in tribal-dominated Dahod district, were attacked by a violent mob. However, the police managed to pull them out of Sanjeli amidst the raging attack. District Superintendent of Police A. K. Jadeja himself suffered serious injuries but he put his revolver to effective use before managing to take the affected people to the safety of Dahod city. In an equally valiant rescue effort, the Vadodara police saved the lives of 5,000 people in Bodeli by preventing a large crowd of nearly 7,000 from marching to the town. Admits Abdul Majid of Sanjeli, who was among the 2,200-odd people whose lives were saved by police: 'But for the timely and bold intervention of the police we would all have perished on that fateful day.'

Effective Steps

These episodes, which prove the sincerity of the Gujarat Government in tackling the riots from day one, are just two of the many cases in which the police saved thousands of people. Yet a smear campaign is being run against the Gujarat Government by divisive elements. This is best proved by the fact that the courageous rescue efforts of the Gujarat Police, which took place in the initial phase of the riots, did not find much of a mention anywhere. For had they been taken into account by the self-styled judges of the Gujarat situation, their "Narendra Modi hatao" campaign would have been dented.

An impression is being created that the whole of Gujarat is burning. But the facts amply demonstrate that except in the initial phase, violence has been restricted to some parts of Ahmedabad city and that too because certain vested interests, keen to serve their nefarious designs, are bent upon keeping the pot boiling by instigating low-key violence with the connivance of fundamentalist elements. In other words, except for some parts of Ahmedabad, life in almost the entire state is normal. Says Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi: "There hasn't been a greater conspiracy to defame a democratically elected government of a progressive state in the annals of independent India. The fact-sheet damns the lies of the conspirators."

Just how the state Government reacted to the challenge that came its way after the February 27 killing of Ramsevaks is best demonstrated by the steps it took. Effective action against elements violating peace has been taken. Up till now the police have fired 8, 465 rounds of bullets and 11,690 rounds of tear-gas shells. As many as 98 people died in police firing in the first three days alone, demonstrating the resolve of the police in controlling the riots. As many as 168 persons have died in police firing so far, the highest in Gujarat's history. Police arrested 33,563 people, the highest in riots in the history of Gujarat, a state marked by communal disturbances.

That the Government allowed the situation to drift is just one part of this campaign aimed at spreading innuendoes. Accusing the state Government of leaving riots victims to fend for themselves at the relief camps is another.

But the facts nail the lies. At the rate of Rs 30 per person, the Government is spending Rs 35 lakh a day on providing foodgrains to the 1.1 lakh inmates of the 99-odd relief camps in the state, 47 of them in Ahmedabad.

The relief operations at the camps are being directly looked after by IAS officers of the rank of secretary to the state Government.

The camps in Ahmedabad have been divided into six groups. Each group is being monitored by a bureaucrat of the rank of secretary. The secretaries have been looking after the minutest problems of the inmates. Teachers were deputed in each camp to help the children prepare for the exams and the state Health Department has been taking special steps to look after the well being of the inmates. In order to rehabilitate the rural inmates, the Government has floated the Sant Kabir Awas Yojana as per the directions of Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee. The scheme will enable the inmates to build houses.

Minimal Economic Loss

A smear campaign is also on to prove that the post-February 27 events have caused unimaginable economic losses to the state and that foreign investment in Gujarat has greatly suffered as a result. As they stand, the facts prove this to be a white lie. The American automobile giant General Motors, which already has a unit in Gujarat, has now come up with a Rs 500-crore expansion plan. But the greatest indicator is the figures of industrial production. It is clear that production in Gujarat hasn't suffered any loss due to the riots. In many cases, industrial output went up in March 2002. The production of soda ash by the corporate giant Nirma increased by 18 per cent from February to March.

The state continues to attract large foreign investment. The concession agreement signed between Gujarat and Royal Dutch Shell for Hazira Port would bring in an investment of Rs 2,500 crore, the second-highest foreign investment in the country so far. Industrial giants like the Indian Petrochemical Corporation limited too haven't suffered any loss of production. Also, claims worth Rs 158 crore have been lodged with the four main insurance companies-far less than the projected economic losses. "The riot scenario in the state is being wilfully magnified by some elements who don't want Gujarat to progress or are the beneficiaries of the magnified projection of economic damage to Gujarat," says Shankarbhai Patel, industrialist and former president of the Vatva Industry Association which represents the largest industrial estate in Gujarat. 'The fact is that the damage to the industrial scene in the state on account of the riots is much lower than what is being sought to be projected.'

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