‘Gujarat riot victims lost their livelihoods too’

September 25th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) A recent survey of the socio-economic conditions of the victims of the Gujarat riots of 2002 has found that a majority of them had to give up their professions after the riots.The survey was conducted by an NGO, Act Now For Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD).

Named the “The Wretched”, the survey report says that for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots it has been a difficult journey - mourning those dead in the sectarian violence and failing to continue with their occupations after the communal conflagration.

“The data analysis made it amply clear that though the victims tried to continue with their occupations, a substantial number had to give up the profession they were engaged in before the riots,” social scientist Gauhar Raza told IANS.

Raza along with Surjit Singh undertook the survey among 4,473 families affected by the riots, who are now staying in 69 colonies in 10 districts of Gujarat.

Communal riots broke out in various parts of Gujarat on Feb 28, 2002, after the Sabarmati Express caught fire in Godhra town a day earlier, killing 59 passengers, mostly Hindu.

In the ensuing violence - one of the worst communal conflagrations in the country - around 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed and thousands of others displaced.

“There is a substantial decrease in the percentage of farmers, and skilled labourers after the riots,” Raza said. “In short, those who were engaged in agrarian activities lost everything, including their occupations.”

In the aftermath of the riots, skilled labourers found themselves turned into unskilled labour as there were no takers for their skills. The percentage of unskilled labour among the population rose from 23.6 percent to 40.7 percent after the riots.

Earlier, 6.8 percent of the families were farmers by occupation but it was reduced to 1.6 percent after the riots.

“A few did join the private sector jobs or opened shops but due to lack of support, avenues and opportunities, there was a very significant increase in the number of those rendered completely jobless,” Singh said.

The number of self-employed people observed a sharp decline from 17.8 percent to 8.8 percent. The number of people in private service dropped from 7.1 percent to 4.9 percent.

Another fallout of the riots - a large number of women from victims’ families were forced to take up jobs as household help.

“Those women who contributed in agrarian activities before the riots, in the present conditions they have been forced to work as household workers in other people’s houses,” Singh said.

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