Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, has a checkered past in severe human rights abuses.As the Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, Modi oversaw one of the worst anti-minority pogroms in Independent India. Some 2,000 people, mostly minority Muslims, were killed by rampaging mobs while the police was asked to look the other way. This prompted Human Rights Watch to title their investigative report on this violence “We Have No Orders To Save You”. This slaughter was also marked by unprecedented sexual violence against minority women. Hundreds of women were chased on the streets of major cities and gang-raped in public view before being burnt alive. Properties belonging to Muslims were destroyed in a targeted fashion, resulting in an estimated loss of $760 million. Subsequent social and economic boycotts organized by Hindu militias further crippled the community.
During the pogrom, over 300 mosques, religious monuments and heritage sites belong to the Muslim community were destroyed. National and International human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and India’s own National Human Rights Commission (a federal government body), have accused Modi of presiding over the 2002 massacres and subverting state apparatus to facilitate the pogroms. This not only includes the participation of the state police forces in the massacres of minorities but also their refusal to register police complaints by the victims, the appointment of state prosecutors belonging to the Hindu militias that perpetrated the pogroms, and the denial of medical services to victims at hospitals. Several senior bureaucrats, who were eyewitnesses to one of his meetings, have accused Modi of urging law enforcement agencies to allow the Hindu militias to ‘vent their anger’.
Several senior ministers in Modi’s government were involved in the violence. Former home minister Amit Shah along with revenue minister Haren Pandya participated in the destruction of a 400 year old heritage mosque in the city of Ahmedabad. Other ministers accused by eyewitnesses of involvement in violence include Gordhan Zadaphiya, Ashok Bhatt, Narayan Laloo Patel, Prabhatsinh Chauhan and Ranjitsingh Chawda. Maya Kodnani, a cabinet minister in Modi administration has been convicted for life imprisonment for leading a massacre of 97 people.
Fourteen out of Gujarat’s 25 districts were allowed to burn as Ministers were specifically deployed by Modi to interfere with police functioning by taking over the police control rooms and provide logistical support to the rampaging mobs.
Mr. Modi has ignored the need to rehabilitate the victims of the 2002 pogroms or to apologize for the horrific violence that occurred under his watch. After 12 years, over 16,000 victims that were driven from their homes continue to live in refugee colonies which do not meet basic standards of sanitation. According to Amnesty International, 21,000 people whose houses were burnt are yet to receive their entitled compensation from the Gujarat state government. The state government refuses to rebuild religious monuments that were destroyed during the 2002 violence.
A number of victim families from Gujarat and their next of kin reside in the United States, and continue to face mental trauma for the violence inflicted upon them and their family members.