The Gujarat High Court today lashed the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government for "inaction and negligence" during the 2002 ''anti-Muslim pogrom'' in the state, which led to the damage of a number of religious structures.
A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala ruled that the government must pay for repairing such damaged structures as well as compensation for the damage.
The court said the state government had failed, showed inaction and was negligent, because of which factors the riots occurred, and religious structures were destroyed as a consequence.
"The Gujarat government's inadequate response and inaction resulted in an anarchic situation, which continued unabated for days on," the bench bluntly observed while ordering compensation for over 500 religious structures damaged in the state during the period of the riots.
Responding to a petition filed by the Islamic Relief Committee of Gujarat, the court said that as the government had paid compensation for destruction of houses and commercial establishments, it should also pay compensation for destroyed religious structures.
The court directed that principal judges of 26 districts of the state would receive applications for compensation in case of religious structures in their respective districts and decide on them. They have been asked to send their decisions to the high court within six months.
The riots occurred immediately after a railway carriage full of activists of the RSS activists was set on fire by Muslims near Godhra station in Gujarat on 27 February 2007. In the vitiated atmosphere that followed, the actual culprits of the train-burning were never identified.
The IRCG, a charitable trust, had filed the petition in 2003 seeking the court's directions to the government to pay compensation for damage to religious places during riots on the ground that the National Human Rights Commission had recommended this and the state government had in principle accepted the NHRC suggestion.