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Report of the CPIM / AIDWA delegation to Gujarat
» Introduction Read
» Godhra, Panchmahal district Read
» In the rural areas outside Godhra Read
» Officially recognised deaths / Politics Read
» Destruction of property, loss of lives, compensation Read
» Ahmedabad Read
» Relief Camps Read
» Voices of anguish / Conclusion Read
Voices of anguish
Smt Yashodaben Koshti whom we met at the Shah Alam camp told us that she had read leaflets distributed by the VHP that said that Hindus should not have any kind of relations with Muslims. If they did, they were not Hindus at all. She said I am a Hindu but I am ashamed at what they have done in my name and that is why I am here in the camp to help in whatever way I can.
In the camps, areas and hospitals that we visited there were groups of people from the same neighbourhood, mohalla or village. From their accounts, it was possible to piece together pictures of what transpired in these areas between the night of February 27th and March 5th.
The ‘Times of India’ of March 13th says that, according to the police, 107 people were burnt to death in Naroda Patia and the adjacent area. The Shah Alam Relief Committee presented a memorandum to the All Party Delegation that visited their camp on March 8th. In this they have said "Another gruesome tragedy took place at Naroda Patia and Naroda village in the northern labour/industrial area of Ahmedabad. A Hindu gentleman, Mr. Tiwari, who is a resident of Naroda Patia sheltered 30 people in his house. He contacted the Shah Alam committee. The DCP of the area was contacted for help to shift these stranded people. It took three hours for the police to arrive and by that time 27 Muslim women, men and children were done to death. Only three escaped the jaws of death and are now in the Shah e Alam refugee camp."
Victims from this area of Ahmedabad city were met by the delegation in both the Shah Alam and Juhapura Sankalit Nagar camps. Amina , an educated woman who worked in a printing press and lived near the Noorani Masjid in this area said that tension started growing in the area from the 27th night. On the 28th morning (the day on which the VHP had declared a Gujarat Bandh on that date) between 9.00 and 10.00 a.m., her neighbours started shouting "They are coming" .The entire area was cordoned off by mobs from all sides. She said that on the pretext of saving them, the rioters separated the women and children from the men, but after this happened, the women were also attacked brutally. Her sister Saeeda, a dress-maker, was killed in the melee that ensued. A pregnant woman, Qausar, was slashed through her stomach with a sword and killed. The nearby Roadways Depot was used to supply fuel which was used for burning homes and people. Rashida Bano, whose husband had a tube-light supply business and who is Qausar's sister-in-law, said that her home in which there was a large consignment of tube-lights was completely burnt down. Sabira Bibi and Chand Bibi confirmed the story about Qausar. In fact, the latter said that she was an eye-witness. Fatima said that her sister, Qudrat Bibi lost eleven members of her extended family of which only three members have survived. Lal Bibi 's son Muskan and daughter Safiya were both killed. She said that when she cried out to SRP personnel for help, they said "You people burnt Hindus in the train, now you have to pay the price."
We met Rehmunissa, a frail young woman who had a two day infant lying on the ground in front of her. Rehmunissa told us "I started my labour pains and delivered my baby while the attacks were taking place on the 28th February. I was all alone. Most of the people had run away including the midwife. They had been told that some vehicles had been sent to take them away to safety. The midwife returned when this did not happen and she cut the umbilical cord. Immediately after this, I ran to the entrance of my chawl and back 7 times in that condition, in the same clothes, clutching my newborn infant because someone would say that the vehicles had come. Finally, the vehicle came and I was brought to the camp."
Naseem Bano ran for her life with her infant male child that had been born on February 24th while Roshan who was nine months pregnant did the same. Rukhsana, whose child was born on March 5th after she had come to the camp and had been taken for her delivery to the hospital, was also with them. All three of them, along with others from the area, ran to the Excise chowki across the road and fell at the feet of the constables there and begged them save their lives. They told us that, after some time, the constables, moved by their plight and their condition, called the police who brought them to the camp.
A 7 year old boy, Yusuf was rescued from a garbage-heap where he had been left for dead and brought to the camp. He received a sword-slash just above the right eye which is still bloodshot. His mother, Razia Bano, has been admitted to the hospital with severe burns. His father, Mohd. Ayub Ghani, has been killed but Yusuf has been told that he is in the hospital looking after his mother.
Babloo (real name, Irshad), 21 years old who lives in Telephone Exchange galli chali in the same area, s/o Mehrunissa and Noor Mohammed who works on a tanker, and who himself did plastering work , was injured in police firing on the 28th at 4.00 p.m. and was reportedly in the Government Hospital where he was taken from the Al Amin Hospital.
Najma Ayub Quraishi, about 30 years old, arrived in the Shah Alam camp completely naked. She told us that "acid was thrown on me and one of the rioters urinated in my mouth. Because my clothes were sticking to my skin and the burning sensation was unbearable, I tore them off and pieces of my skin also came off. Both my children were killed.".
This is 40 kms away from the Bapu Nagar Aman Chowk camp where 450 of its inhabitants have come. They were brought here by the army after their homes had been attacked. Roshan Bano from this village told us that the men and women of the village lay in the fields with their children for 2 to 3 days without any food. She said that even their animals were burnt alive by the attackers. With her were Haneefa, a physically challenged child and a blind, old man, Ismael Bhai Nanabhai.
We met Roshanbai Shaikh who lives and runs a womens patchwork co-operative in this area in her office. Here we met Farzana, Shahnaz Bano, Manjulaben Patel, Farhat Roshanbai talked to us with great dignity and without any bitterness but with great anguish. She said that the 28th was tense with people moving around, shouting slogans and threatening them. Most of the population in this area is Muslim but there is one row of Hindu hutments in the Jhalah Complex. All the 150 Hindu families left the area and their homes are safe and untouched. They are reported to be in Vejalpur Vistar. We could not visit them but we did see their homes. On March 1st, when the men had gone to the mosque for the Friday prayer and the women and children were in their homes, rioters entered the area and started the attacks. They threw acid and indulged in arson. 90 homes were burnt. Their inhabitants are mostly in the Al Rahmani camp which we could not visit. The local Hindu inhabitants only joined the outsiders after the police came and taunted them and provoked them. Thinner chemical was used freely in the arson. Farzana told us that her husband, Haneef, was heartbroken not by the burning of his house and furniture but by the burning of his books which he had collected and spent more than 80,000/- on them. She is most concerned about the education of her two children and asked us whether we thought that their Hindu teachers would neglect them or deliberately punish them when they eventually went back to their school. Manjulaben told us that she lives and works in that area among Muslims and does not feel threatened at all. She said "The Government is doing all this. The Bajrang Dal, VHP, Shiv Sena and all these people should be banned." Farhat, a 12 year old boy, asked us how and when he would be able to go back to the Don Bosco school where he studies.
Dr. Gandhi ki chali, Chamanpura (near late Shri Ehsan Jafri’s house)
We met Shahnaz Bano who lived in this area in the Juapura camp. She told us that on the 28 morning at about 10.00 a.m. a mob of thousands came into their area.. She said that the attackers were shouting the most obscene abuses and threats (very sexually explicit) and were setting whatever they could on fire. She along with some others were able to leave from the back of their chali and reach the Kalupur Railway Station. Her own house was looted and burnt. She said that other people from her area took shelter in Ehsan Jafri’s house in Gulmarg Society, believing that they could not be harmed there. One of them was her neighbour, Zubi, who was 8 months pregnant. She was killed. Another neighbour, Bikhiben’s son and two younger brothers-in-law were also killed along with Ehsan Jafri and his family. Bikhiben pretended to be a Hindu and told the attackers that she only worked for Jafri’s family. She was allowed to leave the house which she could do only by walking on the dead bodies of her son and brothers-in-law. She is in the Shahibagh camp.
The unbridled extent of the violence in Ahmedabad is illustrated by the fact that a National Handicrafts Exhibition organized by the Government was attacked because many of the stalls were owned by Muslims. Many of them were from Bhagalpur, Bihar. Of these, three, Abdulla, Rehmatulla and Saidulla are dead and two are missing. These facts were made known to us by one of the leaders of our joint delegation, Com Subodh Roy who is the Lok Sabha member from Bhagalpur. They were later corroborated by the Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad.
One of the members of the delegation visited the camp at Vizapur in Mehsana District. where victims from Sardarpur village are present. They told him that on the night of March 1, the houses of 84 Muslim families were attacked and totally burnt. Many of the women and children took shelter in the only ‘pucca’ house. This was then doused with petrol and set on fire. 22 people died. The total number of dead is 54. The survivors were rescued by the police and brought to the camp. There are 1000 people in the camp including 400 students from the Visnagar Hostel. The victims said that their standing crops and bore-wells had been completely destroyed. They also said that some dalit families who had given them protection have also been driven out of the village (This is only one small example from a district where many incidents are reported to have taken place).
As we send this report to the press, comes news of fresh violence from the rural areas of many districts in central Gujarat. The most disturbing report is that the Central Government is withdrawing the army back to prove that there is normalcy in Gujarat. This will be disastrous for the state. The army must stay just as Narendra Modi must go, the first as a temporary measure, the latter permanently.
Gujarat cannot and must not become the future face of India. q
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