Only in Gujarat: cheques for riot victims go to riot accused; probe ordered

Only in Gujarat: cheques for riot victims go to riot accused; probe ordered
Submitted by mumtaz on 2 June 2009 – 8:24pm.

* India News
* Indian Muslim

By Staff Correspondent

Ahmedabad: A scam in the distribution of compensation to the riot victims of 2002 in the worst hit Naroda Patia has come to light. A senior official of the Ahmedabad district administration P R Patel has been asked to look into the scam.

The Ahmedabad district administration, instead of issuing compensation cheques to the victims, issued as many as 21 cheques worth Rs. 20 lakh to one Prabhashankar Pandit, an accused involved in the loot and killing of Muslims in this locality. Pandit is out on bail.

Prabhashankar claimed over Rs. 15 lakh as compensation from the state government. The latest cheques issued in his name are from the union government’s compensation package announced for the Gujarat riot victims of 2002 on the pattern of Sikh victims of 1984.

The Muslim dominated Naroda Patia, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city, had several clusters with Muslim population. One of the clusters was known as Pandit-ni-Chali where 28 Muslim families lived.

When the riots broke out, Muslims left the place to save their lives, leaving behind their home and hearth. Their houses were looted and damaged by the miscreants. When they were still taking shelter in Shah Alam Dargah and were not able to return due to security reasons, the administration began survey of the damaged property.

In connivance with the local talati (land revenue official) and the government surveyor, Prabhashankar’s father Shivshankar Pandit forged the documents showing that he was the owner of all the 28 houses in Pandit-ni-Chali.

This helped Shivshankar to get compensation from the state government amounting to Rs. 15 lakh approximately. According to locals, the Pandit-ni-Chali houses were constructed on a piece of land belonging to Dhanush Dhari Mata Trust with Hukumsih Bhagwansinh as its trustee. However, Shivshankar was mentioned as a caretaker in the records.

“But after the death of Hukumsinh, Shivshankar declared himself as owner of the land’’, says Nazir Pathan, a riot victim and a school teacher. According to him, the ownership of the land should either go to the government or to the Muslim occupying the houses and not to the Shivshankar. However, the state government officials did not give any attention to these things and paid compensation to Shivshankar after the riots though Shivshankar was not the victims.

When the security situation improved, Muslims returned and occupied their houses after repairing them. But no one could question Shivshankar about the compensation he illegally claimed for their houses because of an undercurrent of communal tension. Meanwhile Shivshankar died.

However, the Muslim victims raised their voice when the Ahmedabad district administration handed over as many as 21 cheques of compensation to Shivshanker’s son Prabhashankar after the Gujarat High Court issued an order to expedite the compensation payment to the riot victims recently.

The victims are now demanding that the administration must take the cheques back from Prabhashankar.

On June 1, victims led by Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) representative Shamshad Pathan complained to the district officials. City Mamlatdar Mamta Sojitra, in-charge of compensation distribution in Ahmedabad city, told Pathan and victims that the compensation was given to Prabhashankar because the talati and surveyor report mentioned Prabhashankar’s father as owner of the houses.

However, district collector Hareet Shukla has asked additional collector P R Patel to inquire into the matter.

Pathan said that his organization would move the court in case justice was not done by the district officials.

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