Accountability for Mass Violence

Centre for Equity Studies


This report focuses on the access of victims to protection, justice and reparation after communal violence. It argues that the Indian State has failed, in very large measure, to prosecute perpetrators, to account for its own failures, to compensate victims, and to tell citizens about what it did or did not do. It attempts to verify this hypothesis, by excavating the State’s own records, with the understanding that in anatomizing the State’s response to mass violence, the extraction of official records from the conventional determined secrecy of public institutions, and their careful scrutiny and analysis would perhaps add another dimension both to the chronicling of and efforts to prevent the recurrence of such violence.


Report: Social and economic boycott imposed on Muslim survivors of the 2002 Gujarat program


This report explores the forms and consequences of social boycott imposed on Muslim survivors of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Given that at the time of writing, there exists no formal documentation of the systematic social and economic boycott that the survivors continue to face (seven years after the carnage in 2002), this report attempts to bring to the forefront the voices and experiences of both survivors and activists, who stand courageously amidst this climate of covert violence that exists today. Using principles of critical ethnography, it draws from interviews with Nyaypathiks of the Nyayagraha campaign, and survivor families, both in villages and in relief colonies, to highlight ways in which the effects of the pogrom continue to affect the social and economic lives of survivors.


Relief Colonies for People Affected by Mass Violence in Gujarat


This report contains the findings of a survey of relief colonies of people affected by mass violence in Gujarat in 2002, undertaken to verify the claims of compliance by the state government, as reported in their affidavit to the Supreme Court. The survey involved visiting all the colonies and conducting focus group discussions with the residents to understand the functioning of the food and employment schemes in the relief colonies.


Surviving State Hostility and Denial: A Survey of Relief Colonies for People Affected by Mass Violence in Gujarat 2002

Harsh Mander and Kiran Nanavati


Post- the carnage in Gujarat in 2002, is bitter evidence of the deliberate failure of the State government to restore even a minimal sense of security and equal citizenship to its brutalised minority residents, that even almost five years after the cataclysmic storm of State enabled mass communal violence, several thousand people have still not returned to their original homes and are losing hope of this even in the future. The State government has stubbornly refused to collect and share data about these survivors of the 2002 carnage, as this would entail both accountability for its unconscionable failures, and responsibility for their just and humane rehabilitation. This report sought to cover all the Relief Colonies in Gujarat, with a focus on availability of basic amenities like water and drainage, education, food security and the implementations of various government schemes.

Wages of Communal Violence in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli

Harsh Mander, Akram Akhtar Chaudhary, Zafar Eqbal, Rajanya Bose

EPW, 2016

Three years after the communal carnage in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh, in which close to a hundred people died and an estimated 75,000 were displaced, thousands of survivors have not been able to return to their villages. Even those not directly affected, who fled in the wake of the violence, continue to live in slum-like conditions without basic services. The Aman Biradari team that surveyed these affected villages concludes that the permanent divisions between communities who once lived together peacefully represent the triumph of communal politics. to live in slum-like conditions without basic services. The Aman Biradari team that surveyed these affected villages concludes that the permanent divisions between communities who once lived together peacefully represent the triumph of communal politics.


Reconciliation by Shared Caring

Harsh Mander

The Hindu, 2013

This article argues that rebuilding in the aftermath of violence must involve members of the warring communities if lasting peace and trust are to be established.


Yet Another Doctored Riot

Harsh Mander

Hindustan Times, 2013

The Muzaffarnagar countryside in western Uttar Pradesh is reeling under the gravest communal clash the country has witnessed since the 2002 Gujarat carnage as many resolve never to return to the land of their ancestors. Harsh Mander writes.


Assam’s Unending Tragedy

Harsh Mander

The Hindu, 2012

Partisan policies and a bitterly divided people keep the state of Assam in an endless cycle of violence. This article explores the context of targetted mass violence in Assam and traces the history of ethnic and religious hostility in the state.


Broken Lives and Compromise: Shadow Play in Gujarat

Harsh Mander

EPW, 2012

Victims of mass violence often fail to get justice from the legal system, at least within reasonable time. In the meanwhile, the clamour for “compromise” and for “moving on” often come to dominate public discourse. This article, based on a decade-long intense involvement with the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat killings, tries to understand what motivates the victims to agree to such “compromises” with the perpetrators of violence on them. It identifies various forms of inducement, coercion, fatigue and despair as probable reasons. It argues that forgiveness can only happen when the victim is empowered enough to decide but in our context, such acts merely hide the victims’ inability to receive justice.


Refugees from Hate: Inside Assam’s Relief Camps

Harsh Mander

The Hindu, 2012

In this article, the author recounts his experience and observations at Assam’s relief camps following ferocious violence in the Bodo region, driving nearly five lakh people from their homelands.


The Draft Prevention of Communal & Targeted Violence Bill, 2011: Equal Before Law?

Farah Naqvi and Harsh Mander

July 2011

In this article, Farah Naqvi and Harsh Mander examine the Draft Prevention of Communal & Targeted Violence Bill, 2011 proposed by the NAC. They examine the Bill as a special bill in response to the social reality, with provisions that also punish ‘dereliction of duty’ by public servant to protect citizens during an event of communal violence.


Blood and Roses: Injustice, Resistance and Violence

Harsh Mander

The Hindu, 2011

If justice and equality are to be reclaimed effectively, it has to be done through instruments which are egalitarian and just too. This article argues that new generations will — and must — reclaim the ideas of equality, fraternity and justice, brick by brick. But to do this, they will need to fashion new instruments to achieve these ends.


Conflict and Suffering: Survivors of Carnages in 1984 and 2002

Harsh Mander


Even though these were separated by 18 years of history, there is tragically a great deal in common between the communal massacres that played out on the streets of Delhi in 1984 and in settlements and bye-lanes across Gujarat in 2002. This paper documents some of the findings of the research conducted with survivors of these two major pogroms over more than a year in the widows’ colony established by the Delhi government in Tilak Vihar and in four of the worst-hit districts of Gujarat. It examines the paths of suffering, renegotiation and healing separately for the direct victims and the vicariously affected.


Counterfeit Peace In Gujarat

Harsh Mander

The Times of India, 2003


Inside Gujarat’s Relief Colonies: Surviving State Hostility and Denial

Harsh Mander

EPW, 2006

Many of those who survived but were displaced by the widespread communal violence in Gujarat in 2002 have been forced to remake their lives in “relief colonies” that are without most basic public services. Surveys of these colonies and their inhabitants, five years after the violence, reveal not merely the miserable conditions in most of them, but also the denial of all support by the state that thus perpetuates the insidious ghettoisation of a community.


Towards Peace, Democracy and Justice: Committee of Concerned Citizens

Harsh Mander

EPW, 2004

In Telangana, hardly a day passes without reports of horrific killings either at the hands of the police or Naxalite political parties. Unnoticed by much of the country, a citizens’ enterprise has persisted for more than five years to try to restore justice and peace to the troubled districts. Although it has not succeeded in stemming the violence, it is the only initiative that has evoked responses both from the state and Naxalite leaders.


A Defining Election: Combating Hate and Inequality

Harsh Mander


Harsh Mander writes about the elections of 2004, in the wake of the Gujarat pogrom and the threat to values of secularism and democracy in India.


Call of Conscience, Cast of Character

Harsh Mander

Outlook, 2002

This article focuses on the role and responsibility of higher police and civil services, in context of the mass brutality in Gujarat in 2002.

Battling Impunity: Legal Justice for Survivors of Communal Violence as a Public Good

Harsh Mander and Anirban Bhattacharya

India Exclusion Report, 2018-19

The paper by Harsh Mander, and Anirban Bhattacharya highlights how, despite the principles and laws laid down in the Constitution, the hegemony of the Hindu majority bars minorities from effectively demanding and receiving justice in cases wherein they have been subject to gross mistreatment and organised violence. An investigation into the records and outcomes of various cases allows the authors to recognise patterns in the role of the state machinery in the inadequate addressal of severe cases.


Survivors of Ethnic Conflict

Sanjay (Xonzoi) Barbora and Saba Sharma

India Exclusion Report, 2015

Political violence in a particular area of western Assam has resulted in the death and displacement of several thousand persons of different ethnic groups since the early 1990s. This chapter of the India Exclusion Report focuses on major modes of exclusion, including territorial exclusion, traces in detail the historical context of these processes, and presents recommendations for relief and rehabilitation, the repeal of AFSPA, special provisions for children, and the plugging of data gaps.


Survivors of Mass Communal Violence in Muzaffarnagar: Profiles of Loss, Dispossession, and Recovery

Sajjad Hassan

India Exclusion Report, 2015

This chapter of the India Exclusion Report tries to understand, from the perspective of violence survivors, the dynamics of bias-motivated violence towards minorities, and more specifically the loss that violence survivors suffer. Using the specific case of the Muzaffarnagar mass violence, the chapter seeks to explore how victim communities are denied citizenship—equal treatment in terms of protection from violence, besides access to legal justice, and reparation and resettlement. This is situated within the larger discussion of the dilemma: how are certain communities repeatedly and variously subject to violence and atrocious crimes and what can they do about it?


Some Paths to Forgiveness: Religious Conflict and Shared Living in India

Harsh Mander

January 2010

Extracts from the book ‘Fear and Forgiveness: The Aftermath of Massacre’ (Mander 2009) in this essay tell us the story of communal violence in India, beginning from Partition, and how victims have been systematically denied avenues of justice. Mander explores whether there are any avenues of reconciliation, justice and reparations for victims of some of the most brutal pogroms in the history of India.

Dr Iqbal Ansari Memorial Lecture

Communal Violence in India: Ending Impunity

Harsh Mander


This paper looks at impunity for perpetrators of violence during communal pogroms in India, especially the Gujarat pogrom of 2002. It is only when the justice system ends the impunity granted to perpetrators of violence can justice and reconciliation be imagined for the victims.