Gulbarg riot victims and Teesta Setalvad divided over compensation?

by Mar 1, 2013

Survivors of the Gulbarg society massacre, which took place in Ahmedabad during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, are apparently none too pleased with human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who they say hasn't given them funds that she collected in their name.

A notice was sent to Setalvad's residence in Mumbai, and made public by the survivors yesterday, has brought out the dispute between those who are still living in Ahmedabad and the activist, who edits the magazine Communalism Combat.

The notice, signed by 12 survivors, stated that the residents had discovered through Right to Information applications that Setalvad had "collected huge donations from national and international organisations in the name of providing financial assistance for reconstruction of houses or developing the society into a museum", reported the Indian Express.

The site of the Gulbarg housing society which was destroyed during the 2002 communal riots. AFP

The site of the Gulbarg housing society which was destroyed during the 2002 communal riots. AFP

They said that despite collecting over Rs one crore through foreign and domestic donations to build a museum at the site of the massacre.

Setalvad who heads the NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, had reportedly promised to build a 'Museum of Resistance' at the site of the horrific riot in which 69 persons, including Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed.
The activist had reportedly proposed to buy the 5,000 square metre plot where the housing society once stood from the residents but with property prices escalating, residents wanted a larger sum. The deal for the museum fell through, but the donations were collected  by the trust, ibnlive reported.
However, residents of the society, who are now living in other accommodations on rent, say that whatever funds have been collected in their names should be distributed among them and that they wanted to seel their homes instead of selling it at a lower rate for the museum.
"Divide the money collected among riot victims. It has been taken in our name,"  a resident Firozkhan Pathan said.
"They had expressed inability to pay the rates that members were asking for and so the society has passed a resolution that individuals can sell their houses," Tanvir Jafri, one of the residents, said.
The activist is still assisting the wife of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, who has accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of being complicit in the massacre,  in her legal battle but might have to let go of her dream of building a museum at the site of the riot.
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