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Were sexual crimes in Gujarat planned?
By Syed Ubaidur Rahman
Ahmedabad: Women have been the main target of the rioters in Gujarat. After visiting the state for more than a week and meeting hundreds of people in different camps spread over the four most affected districts of the state including Panchmahal, (under which Godhra comes) Baroda, Anand and Ahmadabad, I have reached the conclusion that women were consciously and specially targeted by the rioters who were being controlled by the VHP and Bajrang Dal criminals besides the members of the RSS and the BJP.
Fatima Yusuf Patel, an eyewitness of mass rape in Ahmadabad
The way the Hindu mobs acted while brutally dishonouring Muslim women will put the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo to shame. Wherever there were killings, there were large scale rapes of Muslim women irrespective of age differences. There are incidents when all this was done while their fathers, brothers and husbands were made to witness this brutality after being made captives. And at times all this was done inside the village mosques.
Fatima Bibi Md Yaqub Sheikh whose family lost 19 members including her sisters and brothers says that whatever they did could have been justified, except the way they raped women. She says that when her family tried to flee Naroda Patia, the area where 90 people were burnt alive they all requested the police to save them, but police instead of doing anything for their safety asked them to surrender themselves to the mob.
She says that her sister and her niece both were repeatedly raped by the mob. She adds that her sister offered the rioters twenty thousand rupees that she had with her and asked the rioters to spare her and her daughter. But she says, those were not men, they were devils wearing Khaki shorts, Fatima Sheikh refers to the RSS men who were in the mob. She adds that those devils not only snatched those twenty thousand rupees from her sister but raped her and then burnt her alive. Her niece too was given the same treatment after being raped by men she lost count. And both of them were disgraced there on the road.
Fatima, sobbing inconsolably told me that her sister and niece were not the only ones who were raped by the mob on the road near Naroda Patia. She says there were at least 25 such cases. And all the women were stripped naked before being raped and then were burnt alive. She says that even the very old ones who were not raped were also stripped first before being thrown in the fire.
Jawed, one of the worst victims of the riots, who has been left alone after his father, sister and all other family members were killed by the rioters is another victim. All of eleven years old, he says, ‘unhon ne meri mummy, papa, aur baji ko zinda jala diya. Meri masi ke ladke ko jaan se mar diya aur meri masi ki beti aur bahu se badtamizi ki aur phir unko bhi jala diya (they burnt alive my mother, father and sister. They killed my cousin brother and then outraged his wife and sister). Jawed saw all this being done to his closest relatives. This young boy who has been brought to Shah Alam dargah camp in Ahmadabad by some strangers will probably never forget what his innocent eyes saw being done by these beastly people.
Bilqis Yaqub Patel from Randhikpur is one of the worst cases of this horrific crime to whom I met in Godhra relief camp. Five months pregnant this woman of around 20 years was not only beaten up badly and left for dead, she was also raped by three men from her own village. Eight other women, her close relatives including her sister Shamim, Amina Adam, Halima, Munniben Abdul and Madina who were with her too were meted out the same barbarous treatment. Munniben was just all of nine years and Halima was over 45. But for those age difference was nothing.
Shamim, Bilqis’s sister who had delivered a baby boy just two days ago while fleeing was not only tortured brutally by those people who had thrown her two-days old baby into the fire but also repeatedly raped. No woman was spared. Everyone was given the same brutal treatment. Bilqis says she and all other women who were killed-Bilqis too was taken as dead when the rapists and killers fled-were lying stark naked when she regained consciousness.
Bilqis who lost her two-years-old child and the one in her womb due to miscarriage refuses to speak. Sharifa Umarjee and her aids who take care of these devastated women in the Godhra camp ask her to tell what happened and it was only after their prodding that the young lady spoke. Sharifa Umarjee told this correspondent that it was only today when they received the news that Bilqis’ husband has survived and is in another camp in Dahod district.
But Bilqis is a unique case as she was among the very few women in the whole state who were able to file an FIR against the devils whose name she told me as Govind Nai, Naresh Moria and Jaswant Nai. She has also named all the 23 people who killed all the women and children who were with her.
Others are not so fortunate. Hundreds or probably thousands of women who were raped after every incident of violence and burning around this devilish land have not been able to file FIRs. Don't ask about those who were burnt alive after being raped and mutilated.
Reenu Khanna a social activist in Baroda says that the rioters from Sangh and more particularly from the VHP have used rape to inflict deep psychological wounds in the minds of the whole Muslim community. Khanna who has been working for relief and rehabilitation of the affected people along with her husband says she knows that whichever locality these people attacked they also left horror tales after playing havoc with the women there. When asked about the police registering FIRs against the perpetrators, she says that the police rarely files any charges against the criminals and even if it does it makes the criminal look like a group where no name would be mentioned. She says that rape cases have gone almost unreported and there are very few cases when any FIR has been filed.
Yasmin Sheikh, only 13-year-old has remained mute ever since she was brought to the Camp in Godhra from her village, Delol near Kalol taluka in Panchmahal district. A young child who had not seen the world at all had a very tragic brush with the marauders. This is the village where 35 men women and children were burnt alive and all the houses were destroyed including the lone double story mosque. All her family members were killed including her mother, father and all other relatives. She was sexually brutalized and then left for dead on the road outside the village. No FIR has been filed in this case.
Similar is the case of Raheemabi who has taken shelter in Rakhyal camp. Her whole family was chased from Ansar Nagar area in Ahmadabad. No one has survived in her whole family and she alone has been left to tell the gory tales of the horrific crime the Sangh goons did with her family. Not only she but her sister, both were sexually targeted by the mob. She says that she recognizes the people who killed her sister and her family, but police is not ready to file FIR.
Examples are scattered all over the state, in all relief camps throughout the state. In every relief camp there are dozens of women and young girls who have been meted out this treatment. And it continues to be done.
YA Charkha asks about the future of these women and girls. He says that the beasts who attacked our localities near Godhra town were well prepared to do what they were assigned to do. He says that he has been told by reliable contacts that the criminals who attacked Muslims were told by their bosses to do as many sexual crimes as they could. And they were told that there would be no police to book them in these charges and no one would ask them anything about what they did.
Muhammad Shamim one of the trustees of the Shah-e-Alam camp says that the large scale sexual crimes against Muslim women were committed to add to psychological frustration of the whole community. He says that it was one of the worst instruments and worst sort of violence perpetrated and planned by the Sangh criminals.
Francis Prakar the principal of the prestigious St Xavier's College in Ahmadabad who has been active in providing relief to the affected people throughout this macabre killing and inhumane assault on women says that he fears reprisal from the affected people if the issue is not addressed properly and justice is not given to them. Justice to the victims and the perpetrators, he adds. He means that criminals should be given fitting reply so that no one could dare to repeat these and victims are compensated properly, though he adds that in these cases no one can compensate them due to the height of mental agony and physical suffering.