2014 photo of an Indian Muslim visiting displaced relatives at a Muslim relief camp in Muzaffarnagar. Photograph: (AFP)
Communal violence between Hindus and Muslims led to the deaths of over 60 people and the displacement of tens of thousands
Human rights NGO Amnesty International released its report on the 2013 gangrape in Muzaffarnagar today (February 9) asking the next government in the poll-bound state to ensure that the survivors get justice and investigations
are not further delayed.
The report reveals that there has not been a single conviction in the cases of gangrape despite the government constituting a special team to investigate the cases. It also says two of the survivors were forced to change their statements.
"The state government constituted a special team later in September 2013 to investigate the cases, and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and the chief of the ruling Samajwadi Party promised swift justice.
The state government and successive central governments have also failed to adequately protect survivors from threats and harassment aimed at deterring them from pursuing their cases, and to provide adequate reparation to the survivors. Their failures continue to keep the survivors in a state of fear and insecurity, sceptical that they will ever get justice.
As state assembly elections commence in Uttar Pradesh, the gang-rapes of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli are at risk of becoming another forgotten human rights tragedy," the report states.
It accuses the state government of failing to protect women from threats and intimidation and of not informing them about the status of their cases.
In 2013, communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in and around Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Uttar Pradesh led to the deaths of over 60 people and the displacement of tens of thousands.
The report talks about the fact that thousands of Muslim families were forced to flee their homes and take shelter in relief camps and that scores of women spoke of having been assaulted, raped and gangraped. It states that out of the seven women who eventually came forward to report that they had been gangraped, none has received justice so far.
With the Uttar Pradesh elections around the corner, the NGO said the new state the government should ensure that those responsible for the crime are brought to justice and the survivors are provided with effective legal assistance and rehabilitation.
"Ensure that the investigations and prosecutions into the gangrape cases are pursued vigorously without undue delay, and those responsible are brought to justice. Investigate reports of threats, intimidation or harassment of survivors or their relatives, and bring suspects to trial.
It has also recommended the Centre to enact a robust law to respond to communal violence and a comprehensive victim and witness protection program.
Activist-lawyer Vrinda Grover, who represented the victims in the Supreme Court, said this is the first case where section 376 (2)(g) (rape during communal or sectarian violence) of the Indian Penal Code has been invoked in
the FIR since the law was amended.
"State machinery is not working in favour of women victims. There was a deliberate design to not allow these cases to move forward. The delay was deliberate and this is an example of institutional complicity...The scenario is
changing today as the rape survivor is standing against the wrong and demanding justice...
"According to me, this is the most appropriate time to release the report because we are not here to listen to empty slogans by political parties. This is the time that they act speedily to give women their rights," she said.