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Despite assurances of security, poor witness turnout at Gujarat violence probe
July 17, 2003 02:35 IST
Despite assurances that adequate security would be provided to witnesses deposing before the Nanawati Commission probing post-Godhra communal violence in Ahmedabad, only four persons - all Hindus - appeared on the first day of its hearing in Ahmedabad.
On Tuesday, one of the Commission members, Justice K G Shah, had asked witnesses to turn up 'fearlessly' before the probe panel.
Advocates present for the deposition attributed the poor turnout to 'lack of public interest and moral responsibility'.
Those who turned up, residents of the upmarket and majority-dominated Satellite and Ambawadi areas of Ahmedabad, told the Commission comprising Justice G T Nanavati and Justice K G Shah, that it was a 'Hindu mob' that resorted to arson and rioting with two of them stated that 'policemen were present, but were mute spectators to the frenzy'.
Of the four persons, two were advocates, a restaurateur and a deputy sarpanch.
Triveni Sharma, an advocate who lives in Satellite area told the commission that on February 28, the day the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had given a Gujarat bandh call following the burning of the S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, 'Hindu mobs' indulged in arson and loot.
Amrish Patel, an advocate who deposed, said he was sure that 'the mobs were of the Hindu community as the area was dominated by the majority community' and that some of them also wore saffron headbands.
Though the Satellite and Ambawadi areas did not witness any killings, a large number of restaurants, shops and other business establishments belonging to or run by Muslims were ransacked and torched on February 28 and March 1.
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