Godhra victims deserve our generous help

Gujarat Muslims have been suffering under the BJP rule, especially since 2002. The lot of Godhra Muslims has been even worse since the fateful day when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt there in February 2002. In the wake of that fateful incident, Modi’s administration has tried to prove by hook or crook that Godhra Muslims burnt that coach in a preplanned conspiracy. And to prove that, myths and stories have been concocted using money, muscle power and official machinery. These lies have been exposed beyond doubt by Tehelka exposés and the painstaking work of Teesta Setalvad and others. But we did not care to know how the Muslims of Godhra lived all these years, especially the victimised families whose bread-winners were thrown behind bars and tortured to confess crimes they did not commit. Their brave womenfolk managed somehow to continue the struggle in courts and at home in very severe conditions with almost no help from the community. Here is a letter written by the respected human rights veteran Professor JS Bandukwala to the President of  the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat and the latter’s reply. All concerned are requested to rise to the occasion and help these families. Donations may be sent to Prof Bandukwala in Vadodra (Gujarat) or to AIMMM in Delhi [address at the end] (Zafarul-Islam Khan):

Respected Syed Shahabuddin Sahab,
A team of Baroda Muslims went to Godhra yesterday, after the judgement was announced. We met Maulana Umarjee, Muhammad Husain Kalota, the lawyer Hassan and the families of those who have been convicted. I give you my brief observations:

What I saw was absolutely shocking. These 31 families are living in the midst of a huge garbage dump and open sewers. The place just stinks The men being in jail for nine long years, the family mostly consists of the wife and a large number of children. But there is no income. One family had six daughters and two sons. The last three appear stunted, due to lack of proper nutritions. The local Muslims provide Rs. 1500 per month to the family. The mother washes the clothes of neighbours. More shockingly the High Court lawyers are asking for a fee in the range of 35 lakhs. I just do not know how we can cope with this tragedy.

All in all the Godhra Muslims have truly become second class citizens in India.

With Salaams,
J. S. Bandukwala, Gujarat
Bandukwala from Syed Shahabuddin,
Many thanks for visiting Godhra and sharing with me your observations on the plight of 31 families of those convicted.

I wish the Mushawarat itself was in position to help those families but it is not. Both the Jamat-e-Islami Hind & the Jamiat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind had been very active in Gujarat in 2002. They may still be active. Apart from that there are many rich Muslims in Gujarat including NRIs, particularly among the Bohras & the Memons. What is needed is to form a Godhra Muslim Relief Committee which should collect funds by appealing to all possible sources, including non -Muslims sympathizers & NGOs, in and out of Gujarat.

The Committee should also prepare a more detailed report on these 31 families and appeal to the Govt. of India as well as the Govt. of Gujarat to look after the families when their men are in jail.

You may also try to contact Maulana Vastanvi a Gujarati who is presently the Muhtamim of Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband. Apart from that he runs many institutions. You should ask him to raise funds. Regarding their appeal to the H. C. against their convict you have to contact Teesta Setalvad.

Once the Godhra Muslim Relief Committee is formed, hopefully with you as its chief, the Mushawarat itself would be glad to chip in.

Two points of yours need clarification. First, what happened to the original homes of these families? Secondly, how they get the monthly stipend, small as it is, on which they live?

I am sending extract of your e-mail as well as this reply to Maulana Jalaluddin Umari, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Maulana Mahmood Madni, MP, leader of Jamiat-ul-Ulama-e-Hind and Maulana Arshad Madni who is the President of one faction, as well as Dr. Md. Manzoor Alam, Chairman of All India Milli Council. I am also requesting Dr. Z. I. Khan, Editor, Milli Gazette, to make an appeal in the latest issue for donations.

Syed Shahabuddin
President, AIMMM, Delhi
D-250, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi-110025  India
Tel.: 011-26946780  Fax: 011-26947346
Email:   Web:

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 March 2011 on page no. 6

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