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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
|In the rural areas outside Godhra
B w/o Y from Randhikpur village (District Dahod) is 21 years old, five months pregnant.. We meet her in the camp. Frail, motionless, drained of all expression she tells her story in a monotone as though she is speaking of someone else. Muslim houses in her village were attacked by upper caste people from her own village along with outsiders on March 1 . She and several of her family members fled. She names them: my baby girl Saleha, my mother, Halima, my sisters, Mumtaz and Munni, my brothers, Irfan and Aslam, my maternal uncle, Majeed, two of my father’s sisters, Sugra and Amina, one of their husbands, Yusuf, Amina’s son, and three daughters, Shamim, Mumtaz and Medina and Shamim’s son Husain. Shameem she says was nearing her full term. It was difficult for both of them to run.
At first, they escaped to Chundagi village which was 5 – 6 kms. away and took shelter with Bijal Damor, the local MLA. Then they were asked to leave since it was not safe and they walked to Kuajher where they were given shelter in a mosque. Here Shamim was delivered of a baby girl by a midwife but they were asked to leave soon afterwards because mosques were a target of the rampaging mobs. Shameem barely able to walk, her infant being carried by her sister almost dragged by the others, herself, tired breathless, her baby girl insisting on being carried only by her, they somehow managed to reach village Kudra. Here some Adivasi Naikas took pity on Shamim’s condition and kept them in their huts. B remembers: They were kind to us. Shamim's clothes were dirty.Even though the adivasis were poor they gave her something clean to wear. They let us rest, but then again we had to move but they came with us, escorting us to the next village Chhapadvad. B pauses. A woman next to her puts her arm around her. She continues : We had started moving towards Panivela village. It was a remote and hilly place. Suddenyl we heard the sound of a vehicle. A truck came with people from our own village and outsiders too. They had not come to help us. They stopped us and then the madness started. They pulled my baby from my arms and threw her away. I and the other women were taken aside and raped. I was raped by three men. I was screaming. They beat me and then left me for dead.When I regained consciousness I found I was alone. All around me were the dead bodies of my family, my baby girl, the new born baby. They were covered with stones. I lay there the whole night and most of the next day. I do not know when I was conscious and when unconscious.Later I was found by a police squad from Limkheda police station .I was taken to the hospital and then brought here. In the hospital the doctors confirmed that her medical examination had confirmed rape.
She has named the people who killed her family members and those who raped her: Sailesh Bhatt, Mithest Bhatt, Vijay Maurya, Pradeep Maurya, Lala Vakil, Lala Doctor, Naresh Maurya, Jaswant Nai and Govind Nai (the last three gang-raped her)
Her father and husband have been traced to another camp at Dahod and her brother, Saeed, is with her in Godhra. Her five-month old unborn child is still alive.
Maqsuda Bibi's story:
Maqsuda, large eyes, very thin. lying with her head bandaged in the injuries ward of the hospital. Her face to the wall, neighbouring patients say she does not talk much. She is from Anjanwa village, District Panchmahal. She says, I was in the house with my two sons Ifzal and Imran. They were very scared and kept crying. Our village was attacked on March 5 (long after the notorious 72 hour claim of the Chief Minister) I took my children and we along with four other women started running. We were caught and all of us were thrown into a well that belonged to the sarpanch of the village Jaisigh Dona Ghori. I was unconscious. My children were still. I lay there the whole night. I was rescued by the police the next day but my children were dead and all the four other women with me. I wish I too had died.
Voices from Pandarava village, Panchmahal district
One of the worst atrocities reported is from the village of Pandarava where according to some reports 100 people were killed. The official figure is 21. There was no way to confirm the number. But the delegation met the survivors, many of them severely injured in the Civil Hospital, Godhra. From their accounts it would appear that a mob of adivasis were trucked in led by the sarpanch of the village. They surrounded the Muslim houses, burnt and attacked the inhabitants. There was Sakina Bibi Sayyad, who looked about 65. She was sitting on her bed in a dishevelled and completely disoriented condition. She had sword wounds on her breasts, both hands and neck. She was cut up by the attackers when she was trying to save her sons. They came to attack us, they burnt our house, but where are my family, where? She knew nothing of the fate of her five sons and three daughters whom others fear dead .
Yusufbhai from the same village was lying on his hospital bed with his small children, unable to speak. The mob that attacked their houses pushed an iron rod in his mouth and injured him very severely. His wound is still bleeding and he is in terrible pain.
Fatima Bibi Shaikh and Fatima Bibi w/o Irshad also from the same village are both in the hospital with severe injuries caused by cuts from swords. They too were trying to save their husbands. The latter’s husband was killed. Zohra saw her husband Ayub and mother-in-law Amina killed before her eyes. I tried to save them she cries, holding out her arm broken in several places by Thakeras and the Sarpanch Jaswant Patel. A child Moin, just 5 years old, barely escaped being killed lies injured in the hospital.
The people from the village who were in the hospital looking after their injured family members told us that they were attacked in their homes by many villagers including Thakeras. Some of them escaped and spent the night in the fields. They returned to the village in the morning and found more than a hundred homes had been burnt and they fear that nearly a hundred people may have been killed. They said that Ayub, Murad, Yasin had been killed; Rabia said that her husband, Haneef’s sister Munni, her daughter-in-law, Aslam,her 2 year-old grandchild and one other person were all killed.
From the testimonies of the survivors the violence in the villages followed the same pattern. Some people in the village along with outsiders who came in trucks then attacked all Muslim houses. In many of the areas, those trucked in were adivasis. The survivors could not understand the involvement of adivasis, we have never had any tension with them earlier, they said.
In the camp:
Mohd. Ishtiaq from Mora village told us that there are 115 Muslim and 500 Hindu houses in his village. He said that on March 1 after the namaaz a crowd of a hundred or so people of whom about 50 were from the village, attacked them but they were able to offer some resistance and they went away. At 8.00 p.m. a much bigger crowd came and burnt 23 houses. An hour later the Dy. Supdt. of Police came to the village. They begged him for help but he left. Nor did he send the police. As a result the village faced two more attacks one at 2 in the morning and again the next day. This was when the delegation heard of the use of explosives. "They used something which blew up our houses. " They said "You should be happy that we are only burning your houses." Trucks, shops and agricultural implements belonging to the Muslims were destroyed. About 250 of them took shelter in the masjid and another 116 in Haji Ishaq’s house. Two thirds were women and children. They were all brought to the camp by the BSF. This testimony gave an indication that the attacks were also geared towards wiping out all traces of Muslim property so that it could more easily be occupied.
We also met Ghani Bhai from the same village at the camp. He said that on the 27th evening he was in Limkheda where some attacks were made. His motor-cycle was burnt but he was able to go back to his village. At 2.00 a.m., about 70 houses in his village were burnt. The next day, the burning started at 8.00 a.m. and continued all day till 10.00 p.m. All the inhabitants tried to escape. Some found shelter with Bijalbhai Damor. B and her family were also there he said. The Taluka Panchayat Sarpanch, Lallubhai Parmar, sheltered another 80 people who were brought safely to the camp. Clearly, unlike many of the local politicians who either led the mobs or remained silent, these two leaders played an important role in saving the victims.
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