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Posted Online on Thursday, 18 May 2006 06:35 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsVadodra - demolition of the dargah and after

Compiled by ZUBER GOPALANI
Trustee, Ebrahim Bawany ITI, Vadodara
zuber@iscbaroda.org

The Milli Gazette Online

16 May 2006

The three-century-old shrine (dargah) was a place of reverence for not only Muslims but for many in the local Hindu segment of the society.

 

On 1 May,06, in a crude display of police power, the local administration in Vadodra [Baroda], in the guise of removing obstructions from roads, demolished the shrine which was on the edge of a road and was in no way obstructing the traffic in a significant way. By doing so the local BJP administration, headed by a over-enthusiastic, semi-literate minion, put the entire city on the threshold of Hindu-Muslim divide when the situation seemed to be back to normal after the 2002 carnage.

 

The location, historical existence and status of the Dargah:

The three-century-old shrine at the Champaner Gate area belonged to a sufi saint called Syed Rashiuddin Chishti, a descendant of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer.

 

·       Its existence at its present location is distinctly shown in the 1912 City Survey Record. (See the map)

·       It was a wooden structure which was badly damaged by Hindutva extremists in the 1969 Gujarat riots. The structure was restored with RCC work to its original state when the riots subsided.

·       The whole structure occupied hardly around 3.5 square meter area on the edge of the road.

·       Members of the minority (Muslim) community had requested the authorities and city mayor Mr Sunil Solanki not to demolish the dargah and declare it a heritage site.

 

1912 City Survey Record

 

The dargah  - a thorn in the flesh of communalists

·       This was no ordinary case of removal of an “obstruction”. The shrine was the target of attack in almost all communal clashes riots in Gujarat since 1969.

·       Hindutva extremists have on many occasions tried to demolish the dargah but were never successful due to the presence of Muslims in the vicinity.

·       All along the BJP and the VHP had been building up pressure to have the dargah demolished.

·       VHP even challenged the municipal corporation in an open letter to take action against Muslim shrines.

·       Developmental work, beautification and/or anti- encroachment drives need vision, sensitivity, long planning and active cooperation of the citizens. The present BJP-led body totally lacks such qualities.

·       The “beautification” of Vadodra came in handy for the BJP/VHP to achieve this exploiting state power.

 

The penultimate days and the day it happened

In a series of meetings held during the preceding 3-4 days, local Muslim leaders made unending presentations and approached all local authorities but to no avail.

Local Muslim leaders tried their hardest to find alternate ways to cooperate with the local administration in a way to avoid the complete demolition of the shrine.

Late evening on 28 April 2006, a notice was pasted on the walls of the shrine for its removal.

A series of meetings were held on 29 April with the Mayor, Dy. Mayor and the Municipal Commissioner in this regard.

The Municipal Commissioner visited the site in the evening and after examining it, suggested to down-size the structure towards the road side and remove the RCC umbrella slab.

The suggestions of the Municipal Commissioner were accepted in a  gathering of people residing in the vicinity which was held at the instance of Ganibhai Qureshi, a BJP leader from the area, and the Municipal Commissioner was informed accordingly. But the Municipal Commissioner telephonically informed that the said suggestions were not acceptable to the elected body.

At 9 am the next morning, i.e., 1 May 2006, another meeting was held with the Mayor and other city officials wherein Muslim leaders again expressed their readiness to effect the required changes in the structure immediately, remove the portion that was obstructing the traffic, if any, and to make the shrine less conspicuous. But the meeting ended without any decision and no sooner the meeting was over, that a demolition squad arrived at the site and it was not alone.

present at the scene were present not only the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, the  Standing Committee Chairman, BJP Corporators,  the city BJP president, former minister Nalin Bhatt. In short, all those who are somebody in the BJP in Vadodra were  present there in full force, to watch and relish this especially enacted drama of public humiliation of the Muslims. On the TV screen they can be seen laughing, joking and making mockery of the otherwise grave and agonizing situation for all.

 

Police high-handedness at the scene resulting into loss of life and eruption of riots

It was only naturally for Muslims present at the site to resist. They squatted on the pavements near the dargah, raising slogans.

The Police exhibited unusual high-handedness. The local Police - as is the Police force everywhere in Gujarat – is not in the habit of using soft and humane approach while dealing with Muslims. Resorting to other not-so-crude means of controlling mobs, like water cannon charge, baton charge, firing rubber bullets etc, are not in its rule book when the crowd is Muslim.  Instead, it focused and fired bullets at the protesters against the demolition, killing at least three innocent persons and seriously injuring more than 20 people.

The Vadodara Police Commissioner told NDTV: “There is no communal angle to this matter. We are trying to bring a modern look to the city and anything that would obstruct us in this matter will have to go. Anybody who comes in the way of developing this city will have to change.” He was right. There is no communal angle. It was a frontal and simple assault on Muslims.

 

Days after demolition

 Soon the entire city of Vadodara was gripped in acute tension. Sporadic clashes soon threatened to develop into full-fledged riots. Muslims, their houses, vehicles, lorries and even factories and other establishments, became target of sustained attacks. 

The  situation in the following couple of days was truly frightening and it appeared a repetition of post-Godhra riots. Mobs consisting of thousands of people started roaming during the nights of 1 and 2 May, attacking Muslims, torching their vehicles, lorrie-gallas and houses.  

We have compiled a factual report of the events of those days, starting from 2 to 8 May. In order to offer an authentic, actual and as-it-happened coverage of the happenings in these days we have taken verbatim from the news items on national electronic news channels like NDTV, Zee TV etc and national newspapers and news agencies like Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindustan Times, PTI, Reuters etc (see below).

 

VADODRA-DARGAH DEMOLITION AND AFTER

(from 30 April to 8 May)

The following points emerge most glaringly from the compiled report: (All news items graphically describe the happenings but the items in the brackets invite special attention)

Ø    The local administration with its reckless action has condemned Vadodra city once again to its previous distinction of a “riot–prone” city. (Report items7, 8)

 

Ø    Police in its zeal to please its political masters unleashed a rein of terror on the minority community resulting into huge loss of life and properties of mostly Muslims. (Report items 1 to 4)

 

Ø    During the first couple of crucial days, administration totally failed to provide security to Muslims against the rampaging mobs which went on a killing and burning spree. (Report items 9,11,12,15,19,24)

 

Ø    Muslims were made to feel helpless against the assault. (Report items 9,11,12,15,19,24)

 

Ø    Gujarati language newspapers particularly published exaggerated reports of “the Attack on Court (Nyaya Mandir)” which led the Hon. High Court to take suo moto notice of the incident and that led to the proclamation of the “order” which was later stayed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. (Report Items 18,25)

 

Ø    It is only when the Central Govt. intervened in the matter that the local administration started taking action to arrest the riots and the situation gradually limped back to normal. (Report  items 5,7,13,16,20,21,22,23)

 

Ø    Hon. Chief Minister himself had to rush to Vadodra and direct the local administration. (Report  items 10,14,16,21)

 

Ø    There has been enormous and extensive damage to persons and properties, business establishments of the Muslim community. (The precise damage is being worked out).

 

Ø    The situation deteriorated so fast and resembled so alarmingly to the 2002 carnage that a world body like Human Right Watch took notice and demanded immediate action. (Report -Items 28)

 

 

 

 

-

BARODA-DARGAH DEMOLITION AND AFTER

(PERIOD APRIL 30 TO MAY 8)

IN THE EYES OF NATIONAL  ELECTRONIC AND PRINT MEDIA- WEB SITES

 

1     Dargah demolition in Vadodara claims 4 lives    (zee news)

Vadodara, May 01: The demolition of a more than 200-year-old Dargah here today by civic authorities sparked widespread violence in which four persons were killed in clashes and police firing, forcing the authorities to impose curfew in the sensitive walled city.
Twenty-two people were injured, many of them in police firing and the others in stone-pelting, at the Champaner Gate area following violent protests against the demolition of the Dargah of Rafikuddin Ramatullah Aulia by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation. A policeman was among the injured.
Two locals of Yakoutpura, who were among the protestors, succumbed to bullet injuries received in the police firing. Two more persons were stabbed to death in clashes.
Police opened fire after failing to disperse the protestors with teargas and a cane-charge.
The trouble started when a VMC squad began demolishing the Dargah, which authorities said was encroaching on government land.
Residents of the area began shouting slogans and then attacked officials involved in the demolition, Vadodara city Police Commissioner Deepak Swarup said.
"Police have intensified patrolling apart from clamping curfew in all the sensitive areas and the situation is presently under control," Swarup said.
The complete walled city area has been placed under curfew, police said.
Violence, including heavy stone-pelting, was also reported from Macchipith and Nyay Mandir areas. Police lobbed tear gas to control the crowd in the Nyay Mandir area, officials said.
Director General of Police P C Pande said about 200 additional personnel of the state reserve police force hadbeen sent to Vadodara. "We have also kept the rapid action force on standby. The situation is right now under control."
The additional forces were sent at the request of the city Police Commissioner to deal with the situation, Pande said.
Principal Secretary (Home) K C Kapoor said it was not a case of communal violence.
"It is a case of people blocking authorities from carrying out their official duty," he said in Ahmedabad adding that the demolition drive is being carried out by the civic authorities against unauthorised structures.
Police said people of the minority community had requested the authorities and city Mayor Sunil Solanki not to demolish the Dargah as it was more than 200 years old and its destruction could hurt the feelings of the community.
They demanded that the Dargah be declared a heritage site.
However, the VMC squad demolished the Dargah, which they said was obstructing the traffic, and built a road in its place.
Soon after, people from two groups started pelting stones at each other and set four shops on fire. Some vehicles were also set on fire during the clashes, police said.
Police fired at least 10 rounds and lobbed more than 30 teargas shells to disperse the violent mob.
Bureau Report

 

2.    Vadodara: 2 killed in violence over demolition (Rediffmail Website)
May 01, 2006 14:51 IST
Two persons were killed in police firing and seven others injured in stone-pelting in the Champaner Gate area following a violent protest against the demolition of an 'encroached' dargah in Vadodara. The Vadodara Municipal Corporation had undertaken the demolition on Monday morning. Subsequently, a curfew has been imposed in the area.

Two locals of Yakoutpura, who were part of the protestors, succumbed to bullet injuries after police opened fire to quell the violence and also lobbed tear gas shells, senior police officials told PTI.

The trouble started when the VMC squad started demolishing the 200-year-old dargah and locals of the area began shouting slogans and later attacked officials involved in the demolition, Vadodara city police commissioner Deepak Swarup said.

A policeman hit during the stone pelting was also among the seven injured. "Police have intensified patrolling and clamped curfew in all the sensitive areas and the situation is presently under control," Swarup said.

Police said people of the minority community had requested the authorities and city mayor Sunil Solanki not to demolish the dargah, as it is more than 200 years old and could hurt the feelings of the community. They demanded that the dargah be declared a heritage site.

However, the VMC squad went ahead with its demolition plans as the structure was obstructing traffic, police said.

People from two groups started pelting stones on each other and set on fire four shops, officials said. Police fired at least 10 rounds and lobbed more than 30 tear gas shells to disperse the violent mob.

 

 

3.     Violence in Vadodara, 3 die in police firing

Reuters
Posted online: Monday, May 01, 2006 at 1411 hours IST
Updated: Monday, May 01, 2006 at 1854 hours IST
Ahmedabad, May 1: At least three people died and 18 were injured on Monday when rowdy mobs fought pitched battles with the police in Vadodara, protesting a demolition drive in a communally-sensitive city of Gujarat, police said.

Police opened fire at the violent crowd which pelted stones when civic authorities came to demolish a Muslim shrine that was on the list of properties encroaching roads in Baroda, 120 km (75 miles) south of Ahmedabad.

Two of those killed died in police firing, police said.

"Muslims objected to the anti-encroachment drive and pelted stones," Deepak Swaroop, the city police chief, told Reuters. "We had to take action," he added.

A curfew has been imposed in the area, the officer said. He added there were no clashes between Hindus and Muslims but an alert had been sounded in sensitive areas.

Gujarat was rocked by Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 when 59 people were burnt to death in a train compartment.

 

4       Four killed in Vadodara violence (NDTV)

Rohit Bhan
Monday, May 1, 2006 (Ahmedabad):

Four people were killed in the Fatehpura area of Vadodara where an incident of stone-throwing by a mob sparked off tension on Monday.
The mob was protesting against the demolition of a 300-year-old dargah by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation.
Members of the minority community had requested the authorities and city mayor Sunil Solanki not to demolish the dargah and declare it a heritage site instead.
Traffic obstruction
But the VMC went ahead with its demolition plan as the dargah was obstructing traffic, said police Commissioner Deepak Swarup.
The administration has said that this is not the first religious structure it has had to remove for obstructing traffic.
"The city police station area under which the dargah comes been put on curfew. But what is more important is that there is no communal angle to this matter. All communities have been told that Vadodara is a city which is over 200 years old," said Deepak Swaroop, Police Commissioner, Vadodara.
"We are trying to bring a modern look to the city and anything that would obstruct us in this matter will have to go. Anybody who comes in the way of developing this city will have to change," he added.
In retaliation, people from two groups started pelting stones and set four shops on fire.
The police fired at least eight rounds in the air and lobbed 78 tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
A curfew has now been clamped in the troubled areas. (With PTI inputs)

 

5      'Don’t let Vadodara clashes go out of hand'
Press Trust of India
Posted online: Monday, May 01, 2006 at 1642 hours IST
New Delhi, May 1: The centre on Monday asked the Gujarat government to take all necessary steps to ensure that the situation did not get out of hands in Vadodara, where two persons were killed in police firing.

 

 

Union Home Secretary V K Duggal spoke on telephone with state Chief Secretary Sudhir Mankad and offered central assistance to control the situation, an official said.

Duggal told Mankad that all steps that were required to control the situation in the sensitive area in Vadodara should be taken by the state authorities.

Two persons were killed in police firing and seven others injured in stone pelting in Champaner gate area following violence by people protesting against demolition of an "encroached" dargah by Vadodara Municipal Corporation in the city on Monday morning, leading to imposition of curfew in the area.

 

6          NDTV 2-5-06

Tuesday, May 2, 2006 (Vadodara):

A day after four people were killed in clashes after a dargah was demolished in Vadodara, tension continues to prevail in the city.
Fresh incidents of stone pelting and arson were reported from the Fatehpura area of Vadodara on Tuesday.
The incident took place in the key circle of the city police station in the walled city.
Rapid Action Force personnel, who have been patrolling the streets, soon brought the situation under control.
The curfew has been lifted in staggered phases in four of the six police circles of Vadodara.

 

7      Vadodara admn was not cautious: Centre
INDIAN EXPRESS 2-5     22 HRS
Press Trust of India
Posted online: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 at 1610 hours IST
Updated: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 at 1633 hours IST
New Delhi, May 2: The Centre on Tuesday said the Vadodara district administration did not take enough caution in dealing with the issue of removing the dargah as matters of religious sentiments need to be dealt with a lot of sensitivity.

"Enough caution was not taken by the district administration which decided to remove the dargah on the pretext of clearing illegal encroachment. More caution should have been taken," Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal told reporters here.

Jaiswal, who visited Vadodara where five persons have been killed in clashes following the demolition of the dargah, said "such matters (religious) should have been dealt with more sensitivity."

He said the administration could have sorted out the matter in consultation with the community representatives and not resorted to the demolition right away. Pointing out that it was believed that the dargah was nearly 300 years old, Jaiswal said "distinction should be made between an ordinary place of worship and the one which is a few hundred years old, where more sentiments are involved."

Jaiswal said the district administration could have used baton-charge or fired rubber bullets to bring the situation under control.

Asked whether the Centre would order an inquiry into the clash, he said "we will see what the state government will do and thereafter decide on the matter."

He also said the Centre was ready to assist the state government in every possible manner and would provide extra forces, if sought.

Jaiswal said according to the information received by him, the clash was not of

communal nature but between the district administration and members of a particular community.

 

8.     Politics made dargah removal point of prestige
Express News Service
Posted online: Tuesday, May 02, 2006 at 0931 hours IST
Vadodara, May 2: The razed dargah near Champaner gate, over which violence broke out in Vadodara on Monday, stood in the middle of the road. Local Muslims say it was of a Sufi saint called Syed Rashiuddin Chishti, a descendant of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer. They claim the shrine was some 300 years old.

Little else is known about the shrine, except that it has been attacked in all communal riots in Gujarat since 1969.

But Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), which is controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seemed to have been intent on removing it - and on Monday itself - to prove a point.

All along the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had been building up pressure to have it demolished, if only to show that the ongoing demolition drive against illegal structures was not targeting only Hindu shrines.

The local Muslims leaders’ decision to oppose the demolition on the ground that it was a “historical structure” — Muslims do generally not consider dargahs places of worship — only seemed to have increased the political pressure.

This was evident from the presence of BJP leader Nalin Bhatt and councillors Rakesh Patel, Arvind Patel, Chandrakant Thakkar, Lalit Raj, Harish Shevani, Yogesh Patel and Mahesh Rana during the demolition.

But the situation had been made volatile even before. An open letter from the VHP had taunted the municipal administration for failing to take action against Muslim shrines while removing those of Hindus.

Muslims had made official representations against the demolition on Saturday. They’d also faxed a memorandum to the National Minorities Commission on Sunday quoting the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991, which they ensures status quo to religious places built before 1947.

Municipal commissioner Rohit Pathak’s statement on Monday evening mentioned the demolition of 20 Hindu temples with people’s co-operation. What it did not mention was that the Muslim community, too, had co-operated during the removal of a smaller dargah in the Danteshwar area.

So the dargah near Champaner gate became one that was prominent enough to drive home the point that demolitions would continue come what may.

To declare the dargah an illegal structure, municipal authorities latched on to the fact that it does not have ownership papers nor is it a protected monument. Only the city survey of 1911 by the then Baroda State makes mention of the dargah.

Police officers admit that hastening the removal guaranteed violence.

Given the politicisation of the issue, the conversion of the attack against the authorities into communal violence took little time — something for which the police seemed ill-prepared, as indicated by how the violence spread to several areas in the walled city.

Violence unfortunate, but drive will go on

The demolition drive will continue, we did it in larger public good. The violence and opposition is sad and unfortunate.

Rohit Pathak, Municipal Commissioner

We are telling Hindus to remove temples, how could we allow the other community to remove it partially. A balance needed to be maintained. The demolition drive will continue.

Sunil Solanki, Mayor

We tried our best to maintain peace, but there was no co-operation from the municipal administration. They were adamant. Development can’t be at this cost.

Moin Refai, Member of Muslim Delegation

 

9.     Vadodara police fires to disperse crowds again

IANS ]

VADODARA: Police fired seven rounds to disperse crowds that were pelting stones at them during the funeral procession of the Muslim youths killed in police firing on Monday morning.
"People shouted slogans against police and indulged in stone pelting in the Wadi area of the city from where the funerals were taken out. Policemen controlled the situation by firing seven rounds," Vadodara Police Commissioner Deepak Swarup said.
"There is a strong feeling of anti-establishment among Muslims and they are reacting as the bullet that killed two youths were from police. It will take some time for the feeling to die down," he added. (EMPHASIS SUPPLIED)

 

10    Vadodara tense, Modi to assess situation

NDTV MAY 3 14.30HRS

NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, May 3, 2006 (Vadodara):

Vadodara continues to be tense after a night of violent clashes. There are reports of fresh incidents of stone throwing in the Panigate area.
In a separate incident, two factories in the Sardar Industrial area were set on fire by a mob.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi will visit Vadodara later in the day to assess the situation.
Fresh violence erupted after a man was burnt alive on Tuesday by rampaging mobs.
Six people have been killed since Monday when Vadodara Municipal Corporation demolished the over 200-year-old Rashidudin Chisti-ni-Dargah in Fatehpura area of the walled city.
On the defensive
Reacting to the persisting violence in the city, the BJP has blamed vested interests for trying to frame the state government.
BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also asserted that the party had full faith in Narendra Modi.
Senior BJP leader L K Advani also spoke to Modi on the Vadodara situation and asked for a comprehensive appraisal.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, meanwhile, has asked the state government to take immediate action to control situation.
"What has happened in Gujarat is being watched by us. I am sure the Gujarat government is also watching it and will take necessary action. It should not be hyped up but it should not be taken lightly either," said Patil.

11.    “NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, May 3, 2006 (Vadodara):

Tension mounts
About 20 riot victims are already in the local hospitals.
Eyewitnesses told NDTV that a mob of over 2,000 people attacked Muslim colonies on Ajwa road.
Residents of the Muslim colonies alleged that the police did nothing despite repeated calls for help.
"We kept calling the police but the phones were either switched off or busy. We finally called police control and they said go to Pakistan. We would request the government to take action against the people in the control room," said Yusuf Sheikh, an eyewitness.
Muslim residents said the police refused to help on account of shortage of forces.”

 

12.    “Vadodara clashes revive memories of 2002 riots


Wednesday, May 3, 2006 (Vadodara, godhra, riots):

Tuesday night's violence in Vadodara has revived memories of the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Eyewitness accounts of organised mob violence and police indifference to desperate calls for help are chillingly familiar in the state.
The family of Rafiq Vohra, who was burnt alive in his car, is inconsolable.
"He was like my brother. We kept calling the police but there was no response. They kept saying 'we're on our way' but never came," said a relative of Rafiq.”

13.   Conduct a detailed inquiry: Centre to Guj govt
Press Trust of India
Posted online: Wednesday, May 03, 2006 at 1257 hours IST
New Delhi, May 3: The Centre on Wednesday asked the Gujarat government to conduct a detailed inquiry on how the situation in Vadodara went out of control in the wake of demolition of a dargah there.

It has also asked the state authorities to ascertain whether the district administration acted appropriately to tackle the situation.

"I have so far no reason to believe that the state and district authorities acted otherwise," Home Secretary V K Duggal said after reviewing the situation with senior officials of the ministry.

Asked whether the Army will be deployed, he said government was in touch with the state authorities and will act "according to what the situation is".

 

14     Jaipur, May 3: Senior BJP leader L K Advani has sought a report from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the violence in Vadodara.

 

15.   Muslims can’t 'trust' state govt
Reuters & Agencies
Posted online: Wednesday, May 03, 2006 at 0941 hours IST
Ahmedabad, May 3: After a mob burnt alive a man in his car, curfew was further clamped in Vadodara. The 30-year-old victim, who worked in an oil refinery, was returning from a late shift, when he was surrounded by a mob of hundreds.

Muslim residents said they did not trust the state government.

"Our lives are in danger as Hindu extremists armed with swords and knives surrounded our residences. We called the police but no one responded," said Moyin Khan.

State home minister Amit Shah said the government was keen to control the violence and was doing all it could.

 

16.     NDTV Correspondent
Wednesday, May 3, 2006 (Vadodara):

The Centre has deployed the Army in Vadodara to quickly contain the situation and bring normalcy in the city.
The city has been tense following violent clashes triggered by the demolition of a 200-year-old Rashidudin Chisti-ni-Dargah in Fatehpura area of the walled city.
Home Secretary V K Duggal said nine to ten columns consisting of about 1,000 Army personnel have been deployed in Vadodara.
He made the announcement after a meeting to review the situation was undertaken by the Centre. Army is on the standby in Ahmedabad, he said.
The decisions were taken after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Home Minister Shivraj Patil.
Appeal for peace
Earlier in the day, Modi visited Vadodara to assess the situation and appealed for peace.
"Situation in Vadodara is under control. I have asked for additional forces. Now 24 companies of our state forces are outside for election duty. That's why we need additional forces," said the Chief Minister.
The city continued to simmer even as fresh reports of stone throwing in the Panigate area came in.
In a separate incident, two factories in the Sardar Industrial area were set on fire by a mob.

 

17.  Cong 'blowing out of proportion' Vadodara incidents: Naidu

Coimbatore, May 03: Criticising the Congress for 'blowing out of proportion' the Vadodara incidents, BJP Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu today said they were doing so 'only because' it happened in a BJP ruled state. zee news 22.30
    

18.   May 3

The Gujarat HC, taking note of a media report about a mob attack on a district court after the Vadodara Municipal Corporation razed a dargah, had on May 2 directed the municipalities of Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot and Ahmedabad to take immediate steps for the removal of religious structures on public land.

 

19. ‘We called police, they told us to call up Pakistan instead’(INDIAN EXP May 4)

Soumik Dey

Posted online: Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 0000 hrs

VADODARA, MAY 3: The mob that killed 38-year-old Mohammad Rafi Vora at 11.45 pm on Tuesday night near his Kismat Colony residence did not spring to action suddenly. In fact, the situation in the curfew-bound Ajwa Road area had been tense even four hours before the incident.

However, the police reportedly did not respond to frantic calls from residents of minority community societies here, and arrived only after Rafi was attacked with swords and his Tata Sierra car (GJ-6AA 8285) set on fire with him inside.

‘‘He was coming towards the colony and the mob was already on the street. He honked and accelerated to get past the mob, when the car hit the divider and overturned. The mob then turned on him and set the car on fire,’’ said Rafi’s friend Salim Vora, a Vora Colony resident.

The mob did not give Rafi a chance to come out of his car and attacked him with swords. ‘‘He was killed first and then set on fire along with the car,’’ is what his post-mortem report states.

His younger brother Mohammad Haji Vora says, ‘‘My brother was into the business of leasing out oil tankers. On Tuesday night he was coming back from Gujarat Refinery. We had called him when he was at Dhumal Chowkdi and warned him that the situation was tense. He was the pride of our family and had donated money for the construction of the Ektanagar police chowki.’’

‘‘Retired police inspector B I Pathan, a resident of Kismat Colony, had called the police when the mob started gathering. Instead, he was asked to call up Pakistan,’’ he added.

Haji’s friends alleged that residents of the Riddhi Siddhi society opposite Vora Colony were part of the mob. ‘‘The Friends of Police also ditched us in time of need. This, however, is the first incident of communal violence in so many years,’’ said another Vora Colony resident Akil Sheikh.

Police Commissioner Deepak Swaroop refused to comment on why the police did not respond in time. But he added that rioteers had tripped transformer switches in the area, which caused an impediment in police work.

The police are yet to take any action following the incident. ‘‘We have registered an FIR and combing operations are to begin by Wednesday evening,’’ said Panigate police inspector Y A Bhatiya. On Wednesday morning, Rafi’s body was brought from SSG Hospital to the residence of his elder brother in Fatehgunj and then taken for burial.

 

20.                          Vadodara violence: Jaiswal to submit report

 (NDTV 4-5-06 9.30hrs)

  NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, May 4, 2006 (Vadodara ):

Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal will submit a report on the Vadodara violence, a day after his visit to the communally sensitive city.
Jaiswal reportedly, said that the Rashidudin Chisti-ni-Dargah in the Fatehpura area should not have been demolished and condemned the police firing.
The city has been tense following violent clashes triggered by the demolition of the 200-year-old dargah in the walled city.
The death of Rafiq Vohra, a Muslim contractor, who was burnt alive by a mob on the outskirts of the tense city has raised several questions about where the police was when the violence peaked.
Muslims alleged that an over 2000 strong mob attacked their colonies but there was no police action.
“He was like my brother. We kept calling the police but there was no response. They kept saying 'we're on our way' but never came," said Rafiq Vohra’s relative.
Locals said the police station is at a distance of around one kilometer but it still took the policemen close to an hour and a half to arrive at the site.
Fear among Muslims
The violence has brought back memories of the 2002 Gujarat riots when the same Muslim colonies were targeted.
Residents of the Vohra and Kismet colonies that are Muslim dominated say they made close to 200 SOS calls between 11:30 pm (IST) and 12.30 (IST) but the police did not respond to their pleas for help.
The police however, claim there was no delay in action.
“If they say we reached late, that is totally baseless. It might have taken us 5-10 minutes to get there. I was there and the DCP was also there,” said VM Parghi, ACP.
According to sources the Centre has indicated that stringent action should be taken against Vadodara Police Commissioner, Deepak Swaroop. ...
 

21.  Vadodara tense, Army conducts flag marches     ZEE 4-5-06 930HRS
Vadodara, May 04: The Army last night conducted flag marches in all curfew-bound localities of this riot-hit town where a shop was set on fire in a fresh outbreak of arson as three days of violence left six dead and more than 60 injured.
Two columns of the Army marched through trouble-torn areas in city police station limits, Nawapura, Wadi, Raopura, Karelibagh and Panigate localities, city Police Commissioner Deepak Swarup said.
He said if necessary, the Army would conduct flag marches in some other violence-hit areas today in the wake of the demolition of a Dargah on Monday.
The Armymen had moved in all curfew-bound localities of the town, officials said.
The shop of Indian steel traders was set ablaze in Daboi area but there were no casualties.
Home Secretary V K Duggal told reporters in Delhi that nine to 10 Army
. columns consisting of about 1,000 soldiers had been deployed in Vadodara to control the situation.
The Army had also been put on standby in Ahmedabad, he said. Earlier, the Centre had despatched 500 para-military personnel to Vadodara.
A few incidents of stone-pelting and arson were reported today in the violence-hit town which remained tense.
Police said anti-social elements burnt three factories at the Sardar Patel estate and looted a shop at Raopura. Police used teargas in Bavchavad area to disperse two groups pelting stones at each other.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who toured riot-hit areas, said the situation was under control and warned of stern action against anyone fomenting unrest.

 

 

22.  Gujarat 2006 versus Gujarat 2002 (INDIAN EXPRESS)

MILIND GHATWAI, SHIV AROOR & VARGHESE K GEORGE

Posted online: Thursday, May 04, 2006

In 2002, there was no response from the BJP-led NDA Centre for hours after violence broke out. This time, the UPA sent Minister of State Sri Prakash Jaiswal the same evening as violence broke out on May 1.

After Modi’s request at 4 pm today, 13 paramilitary troop companies—nine deployed in Vadodara and four in Ahmedabad—have been drawn from the Rapid Action Force (RAF), CRPF and BSF. In 2002, the Army was not deployed until the worst massacres had already happened in Ahmedabad and across the state.

Today, the Army put three columns from its Vadodara-based air defence brigade and another from Gandhinagar on flag march duty. Four columns, consisting of about 250 troops, are to make a peaceful flag march through the sensitive parts of Vadodara today in a 10-vehicle convoy of jeeps.

Two more columns of the Army have been pressed in to assist the civil administration and Gujarat police.

Last night, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told Modi in no uncertain terms that it was the Gujarat government’s responsibility to ensure that the situation did not spiral out of control.

The Home Ministry also asked Gujarat Chief Secretary Sudhir Mankad to provide a detailed report on the violence.

Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi also spoke to Mankad and indicated to him that with the assistance of additional central forces, it was imperative that the situation was defused immediately.

 

 

23.   Government gives shoot orders to army

Times of India may 5 10.30hrs

Vadodara:

 

NEW DELHI: The central government has granted extraordinary powers to the army, deployed in Gujarat's strife-torn city of Vadodara, to shoot to prevent any escalation in the violence to avoid a repeat of the state's sectarian clashes of 2002.
Ten companies of the army, deployed in the city on Wednesday night, were given the power to shoot if that was necessary to control any rioting mobs, official sources said here.
The move, however, risks a spat with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gandhinagar, since, according to the norm in such situations, the army's role is only to assist local authorities, and a prior permission from the district magistrate is required to fire at mobs indulging in violence.
Violence broke out in Vadodara, about 110 km from Ahmedabad, when police fired at an unruly crowd on Monday, killing two people. The largely Muslim crowd was protesting the demolition by civic authorities of a 300-year-old tomb.
The police firing provoked clashes, leading to four more deaths in two days, even as the situation was 'under control' on Thursday and curfew was relaxed in many parts.
The army was sent to the troubled city at the request of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as 24 companies of the state's reserve police force were on duty in the states where assembly polls were on.
The violence brought back memories of the sectarian strife in the state, including in Vadodara, in 2002 that claimed at least 1,000 lives.
While the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government did not want further flare-up in the situation, the Modi government could cite numerous precedents to make a case of the central government encroaching into the state's purview as law and order is a state subject.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Gujarat High Court rejected a petition against the ongoing demolition of illegal encroachments in the state and asked the authorities to continue the drive.
The central government's case, meanwhile, was bolstered on Thursday when the Supreme Court took cognisance of media reports about the situation in Vadodara, and stayed the demolition drive against illegal encroachments in the state.
Union Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj has been asked to study the high court judgement and examine the grounds for a possible appeal, the sources said.
Union Minister of State for Home Shriprakash Jaiswal, who visited on Vadodara Monday, is understood to have prepared a report critical of the state police's firing. The report also criticised the civic authorities for carrying out the demolition when there was enough ground for apprehension that it could lead to communal tension.
Union Home Secretary VK Duggal has told the state government in no uncertain terms that violence not be allowed to spread to others parts of the state.

 

24.    Lynching in Vadodara

After inaction, cops turn prompt
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
Posted online: Friday, May 05, 2006 at 0541 hours IST
Updated: Friday, May 05, 2006 at 0608 hours IST
VADODARA, MAY 4: After accusations that they did not respond to frantic calls for help made by residents of a society on Ajwa Road following the Tuesday night lynching of Kismat Colony resident Mohammad Rafi Vora, the police have suddenly decided to become more proactive in the case.

Immediately after the incident, an FIR for murder was registered in which a Panigate police inspector was the complainant. A few hours later, the FIR was changed and the prime witness in the case and the brother of the deceased, Haji Vora, was made the complainant instead of the inspector.

This, after an inquiry was conducted throughout Wednesday. The new complaint names 12 people among the accused who were part of a mob of more than 1,000. All the names were provided by the prime witness Haji Vora.

On Thursday, the police conducted combing operations in the Kisanwadi area and Ajwa Road societies near the incident site, and around 25 people were reportedly held for questioning to identify those present in the mob.

 

25.  SC stays Gujarat HC directive on removing religious structures ZEE 5-5 7.30HRS

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Gujarat high court order directing authorities to remove all religious structures that were encroaching upon public spaces across the state without any discrimination.

The bench stayed the high court order and issued notices to Gujarat chief secretary, state`s Director General of Police, Police Commissioners and Municipal Commissioners of Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and development authorities of these cities seeking their response in the matter.
It also issued a notice to a media organization on the basis of whose report the high court passed its order.
The ASG said the high court took suo motu action based on a newspaper report "without even conducting a prima facie examination into the veracity of the contents of the newspaper report and without any pleadings on record."
"There was no petition, no affidavits or counter-affidavits or any official documents about the total number of temples or Islamic shrines on public space or whether they are protected monuments," he submitted.

 

NDTV MAY 5 22HRS

26. Curfew temporarily lifted in Vadodara


NDTV Correspondent
Friday, May 5, 2006 (Vadodara):

To halt the possible spread of violence, the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered municipal authorities in Vadodara to halt all demolitions of illegal structures.
Mohammad Asar Doodhwala, a local resident in JB Nagar spoke of intimidation and fear in the city in the wake of the demolition.

"I sat to have dinner with my family when a they came and stared abusing us saying go away or we will burn you alive. We got up and ran".
JB Nagar is a poor neighbourhood with a mixed population of Hindu and Muslim residents. (emphasis supplied)


SUNDAY EXPRESS May 7, 2006

27.  Peace comes to Vadodara
Press Trust of India
Posted online: Sunday, May 07, 2006 at 1257 hours IST
Vadodara, May 7: With the city remaining by and large peaceful on Sunday, curfew was lifted for seven hours in all six police station areas and people ventured out of their homes to stock essential supplies, police said.

With no major incidents of violence reported in the last three days, people came out in large numbers to complete their weekend shopping as the seven-hour curfew relaxation started from 9 am.

Police commissioner Deepak Swarup said the decision to lift curfew and withdraw the army is likely to be taken this evening after reviewing the situation.

 

28     Halt bloodshed to prevent another Godhra: Rights group (Hindustan times May 5)
Agence France-Presse

Vadodara, May 4, 2006
Gujarat must take action to stop Hindu-Muslim riots from worsening, a rights group warned on Thursday as troops patrolled a city where six people have already died.

Vadodara has been under curfew since Monday when violence erupted after authorities demolished a Mulsim shrine saying it was built on government land.

"The Gujarat government must be vigilant against extremist violence against helpless civilians," said Brad Adams, Asia director for the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"Instead of allowing this violence to deepen religious hatred, the authorities should launch an immediate, thorough and transparent investigation to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted and punished," he said on Thursday.

The group said it was worried that there could be a repeat Gujarat's 2002 riots which left more than 2,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.

 

29.   Army withdrawn from Vadodara
Press Trust Of India

Posted online: Monday, May 08, 2006 at 2146 hours IST
Updated: Monday, May 08, 2006 at 2148 hours IST
Vadodara, May 8: The Army was on Monday night withdrawn from all riot-affected areas of the city when the troops marched out of remaining four localities ahead of schedule following improvement in the situation there.

The Army troops pulled out of city, Wadi, Panigate and Navpura of the city at 8 pm IST. They had been withdrawn from Raopura and Karelibagh, the other riot-hit areas, on Saturday morning.

City Police Commissioner Deepak Swaroop told PTI that with no untoward incident being reported from the city in the last four days, he decided to withdraw Army from the city tonight.

 

 

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