• Give violence a chance

    The government shows no desire to put out the fires. In fact, it even appears that it wants to keep the flames burning.

    in Gujarat

    As Noorjehan Ghachi and her family took their afternoon nap, oblivious to the world around them, their house was set on fire and they were burned alive. Five of them died and six others sustained serious burns. This brutal massacre in Abasana village in Ahmedabad district is part of the relentless pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Hindutva experiment, the only state in which the fascist party rules with a majority.
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    • Clean out the camps

      With the PM visiting, government officials have suddenly appeared in relief camps. They want to clean them up…and clear them out.

      in Vadodara and Ahmedabad

      Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi wants people in the relief camps to go back to their houses. It would prove his claim that things are back to normal in Gujarat. Almost 1.5 lakh people who have been hounded out of their homes and live in miserable conditions in the state’s 104 relief camps would like nothing better than to return home. Except for a small hitch – they have no homes to go to. And, their lives are still in danger if they leave the camps.
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      • The apostles of violence

        The violence continues in Gujarat abetted by the state. The mobs rule.

        in Ahmedabad and Vadodara

        After being confined within a relief camp for 15 days, Munnabhai Pathan finally gathered enough courage to return to his home at Avdoot nagar in Makarpura, Baroda city’s industrial area. He had fled after his neighbourhood was attacked by a mob. Too scared to live there again, all he wanted to do was pick up whatever was left of his belongings and leave. The fact that the police was willing to escort him alleviated his fear.
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        • Dam lies

          As Narmada River dams continue to rise, so too do the protests about the homes and livelihoods disappearing under dam waters… and the government lies about those who are displaced.


          It started as just another VIP visit. With platoons of security guards, fleets of flashing cars and bowing bureaucrats in tow, three Ministers of the Indian Government were sent by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to assess whether villagers submerged by the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) – a huge dam on the Narmada river – had been resettled properly.

          So the Ministers made their way from New Delhi, the capital, to Madhya Pradesh in central India, one of the three states affected by the project. The first stop: the red-carpet welcome by Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He assured them that all project-affected families (PAFs) would be rehabilitated by 30 June 2006. On that optimistic note, Saifuddin Soz (Minister of Water Resources), Meira Kumar (Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment) and Prithviraj Chavan (from the Prime Minister’s office) set out to visit the submerging villages.
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          • Wild ass in the wild west

            The Little Rann of Kutch is hot, dry and salty but it has a wild ass. This barren landscape is teeming with life. The Agarias also live in this desolate mudflat to make salt.

            DIONNE BUNSHA

            Photo: Dionne BunshaA salt pan Read more

            • When the dam had had enough

              It was like an elephant hurtling towards them, yet many of the huts on the banks of the rivers couldn’t move out of its way when the dams swelled

              DIONNE BUNSHA
              in Sangli and Pune

              “Everyone is zero. Everything was washed away,” Dastagir Fakir, from Sakharwadi village in Sangli, told me. That’s the common refrain in districts worst affected by the floods that followed when water was released from a series of dams along the Krishna river.

              “When the water level started rising, our cattle started getting very restless and upset. We had to cut their ropes and let them go,” says Dastagir. He had spent Rs 4,000 to sow his one-acre with soyabean. It is now totally submerged. “On the first day, we were in chest-deep water. The next day, people from the village came to rescue us and took us to parts of Bhilawadi village that were not submerged. But water started rising there as well. And today, seven days later, they rescued us from the village.” Now, Dastagir and others have been crammed into small two-room school building that is functioning as a relief camp.
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              • Crocodile’s day out

                Central Gujarat went under. Was it a freak downpour or did Baroda sink under the weight of its own development?

                DIONNE BUNSHA
                in Vadodara

                Water kept rising from under Lalji Vasava’s feet when torrential rains lashed his village. Before he knew what had hit him, his entire mud hut in Ankodia village near Vadodara started crumbling. Lalji took his family and fled to the local school, where many other villagers had sought shelter. By the next morning, nothing remained of his hut.

                Now homeless, Lalji rummages through the ruins, wondering how he will survive the rest of the monsoon. “I will have to take a loan from my sheth (employer). But right now, there isn’t much work either because all the fields are flooded,” he said. Lalji is still living in the local school, where the panchayat has made arrangements for their food.
                Photo: AFPVillagers and cattle take refuge on a hillock between Vadodara and Ahmedabad Read more

                • Red carpet for lions, red card for people

                  Some of the Gir lions needed another home. The adivasis in Kuno forest gave up theirs on promises of a better life. But were given little more than stony land

                  DIONNE BUNSHA
                  in Kuno forest, Madhya Pradesh
                  Akke and Kheru share a beedi with their friends and stare at the stone in front of them. Blazing heat and rugged terrain is all they have. No trees, no crop, no cattle, no food, just stony land. Nothing can be grown here. All they can do with it is hammer away, breaking rocks for construction. They get just Rs 70 for a 100 huge boulders.
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