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Published in the 1-15 July 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Foreigner's search for justice in Gujarat 

The Milli Gazette Online

Dholakha (Gujarat): Zarina, an Australian who embraced Islam 13 years ago, is running from pillar to post in Dholakha, Gujarat in search of justice and to have the killers of her son who was killed in the Gujarat riots of 2002, booked. As ill luck would have it, her husband Mohammad Abdur Rahman was killed in Mumbai riots which had erupted in the wake of Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Ten years later her 14-year-old son Imran too was killed. This double tragedy has caused so much pain and sorrow to her that at 35 she looks much older. 

Born in Perth, Zarina came to India when she was only 16 years old along with her elder sister Dorothy who was a medical student in Bangalore. Thereafter she did a diploma in nursing and joined Saint Martha Hospital in Bangalore where she met her would-be husband, Abdur Rahman who was a patient there. Rahman was a resident of Mumbai. She married Rahman and gave birth to Imran who was a student of 9th class in Mumbai but later on she got him admitted in a madrasa at Dholakha. On the night of 28 February 2002 when the riots had already erupted Imran was attacked and seriously injured. The attackers wanted to burn him also but he was somehow saved and admitted to a hospital in a serious condition. After about one-and-a half months he succumbed to his injuries and died.

Zarina says that when her son was attacked she was in Mumbai. She left for Dholakha as soon as she came to know of the attack and could meet him only after six days. When he was on his death bed, he expressed his last wish that she should remain in India only and not return to Australia. In deference to her sonís last wish she says that she has decided to live in India, come what may. Therefore the question of her going back to Australia does not arise. Hence, instead of living with her parents in Australia, she prefers to live in this congested, Muslim-populated small town. She has no source of income and therefore financially she is in a very bad condition and survives on the assistance provided by some sympathetic people and the aid agencies.

She is so much wrecked by her miseries that she does not properly remember her past and has forgotten many things. Her neighbours say that she has lost her mental balance. She insists that she will not desert Islam. She says that she wants justice and wants to see those people being punished who killed her son and husband.

Police had closed the case of her sonís murder for want of proof but on Supreme Courtís intervention it was re-opened last November but there is no progress so far in spite of the fact that she had named at least two killers, as told by her son. One of them is Raju, son of one Narahari and the other is the son of a goldsmith. She says that she has provided some clues to the police and if one of the them is caught, other killers too will be caught. Inspector B.G. Solanki, however, does not think so because when her son was alive she failed to disclose the names of the killers to the police or to her own people. It is therefore difficult to believe what she says. Some local Muslims say that when the attack was made on the madrasa there were policemen and home guards around but they do not want to identify the culprits. Another argument against this is that the madrasa was attacked at night and hence it is difficult to identity the culprits in the crowd due to lack of proper light.

Zarina says that she is waiting for the day when the killers will be punished. She says that local people see her in a strange manner, probably because she is the only white skinned lady in this area who can speak only English. People do help her by giving her money and eatables. She says that destiny has been unkind to her but she is determined to fight for justice. 

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