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Eyewitness account: 
‘We shall be killed tonight’
By Aziz Burney

On Friday night while we were staying in Ahmadabad state guest house for a short while, there was a phone call from the Muslim majority area of Shahpur requesting Shabana Azmi, member of Parliament (MP), to do something soon otherwise tonight we shall be killed. Hearing this Shabana burst into tears and told me that exactly the same thing had happened in Mumbai earlier. A crowd of seven thousand people has encircled Shahpur and Watoajwapura, the worst-affected areas. The situation is very critical and explosive and anything can happen any time.

The true position of Ahmadabad can be understood from the following fact: On Friday night, BBC’s reporter Rehan Fazal requested for a room in the 5-star Taj Residency Hotel. The hotel manager asked him to give a Hindu name for staying in the hotel. On Rehan’s reply that he cannot do so because he cannot change his name which is mentioned in his visa and passport, the manager said that in that case he cannot stay in his hotel. Rehan narrated this incident to Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Sita Ram Pachori. 

I have come to Ahmadabad alongwith Amar Singh, Raj Babbar, Shabana Azmi and Sita Ram Pachori, all members of Parliament.

An idea of the critical situation can also be had from the fact that the Police Commissioner, CN Pande, told the delegation that for making a round of the city on duty, he has got his beard shaved that very day. Similarly, ANI correspondent told them that he has shaven his beard today itself because people are being identified after disrobing them in the affected areas. Whatever he and Rashtriya Sahara Hindi editor, Govind Dikshit, have seen during one hour only is really terrible. 

Upto a distance of only a few hundred metres from the airport around fifty vehicles were lying burnt. This was the scene in a market where all shops belong to Muslims. On going slightly further, they are stopped by police. High police officials say that you cannot go beyond the guest house and must stop there. At the airport also a police officer had advised us that our venturing into the city will not be safe. The previous day Defence Minister George Fernandes was harassed and misbehaved.

Police and high administrative officials give us details of the dangerous and terrible situation of the previous two days on condition of not mentioning their names.

We are at the moment in the state guest house from where Amar Singh talks to Chief Minister Narendra Modi on phone No. 2866343 and tells him that they are continuously receiving phone calls from the riot-affected people and tells him that the delegation wants to visit VS Hospital. Modi says that their going to the hospital is fraught with dangers. When we could not provide proper security to George Fernandes how and what security can we provide you, he says. When Amar Singh says that we have police escort with us, Modi said that your going there will lead to increased tension. Thereafter, Raj Babbar tells Modi on phone that a telephone call has just now been received from Bapu Nagar saying that shots are being fired from the residence of the Gujarat state home minister Govardhan Jhaparia. On being asked about Modi’s reply, Raj Babbar said that he says that you know who keeps arms. Hindus do not keep arms. At that moment Amar Singh said that despite danger to our lives, we must go there. According to him, this was a planned and organized official terrorism. Continued

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