don't want Muslims here'
>>>to index page Nandasan Relief Camp, Gandhinagar District Syed Nasir
Nandasan Relief Camp, Gandhinagar District
We stopped getting any relief from the government after May 27. Earlier we used to get wheat, sugar, rice and oil. For the government there is no camp, no refugees, now. But there are still 419 persons from 95 families in the camp. They are from the districts of Gandhi-nagar, Mehsana, Patan and Ahmedabad.
We had some grain that lasted up to June 13; after that it has been very difficult. Some Ahmedabad–based and Mumbai–based organisations have helped with grain. Today, feeding the persons is very difficult. These are not persons with any land. They used to work in fields. Their homes have been completely destroyed but they have received barely Rs 5,000–15,000 in compensation.
On February 28 itself, MLA Sureshbhai Patel was named and identified by many survivors as leading the mob in village Paliyar. One month ago, a two–day meeting was held in the village where it was decided that "Miyabhai gaam ma nahin joyiye". ("We do not want Muslims in the village"). The total population of the village is around 3,000. The Muslims who have fled just do not want to go back.
Chandmiya Mastanmiya Fakir
There are eleven families here; my own family, my brothers and nephews. We attended that two-day meeting a month back where it was decided: "Bandya nahin chahiye." It was on March 1 that the violence occurred and we were badly beaten. On that day, my relative, Neejumiya Bhikumiya Fakir, had a finger chopped off by the mob and my son, Ilyas Chandmiya Fakir was stabbed. Two homes were gutted and completely destroyed.
We had named the son of the deputy sarpanch, Niteen Rasik Jali, Bharat Ransorbhai Patel, Hashu Gopalhai Patel and Nareshbhai Prahladbhai Patel in the FIR. We escaped and came to the Nandasan camp where 25 other families also came after four days. Since then we have been at this camp.
The sarpanch or the mamlatdar adhikari have done nothing to rehabilitate us. We have received no compensation for the houses; we were not even summoned for the house survey. We have lived there for hundreds of years. We have driven the cars and trucks of the Patels. But now we cannot return.
Jumbasan Ramzan Nisa Fakirbhai
Abasana village, Ahmedabad district
There are five families here from Abasana, about 25 persons. We have been in Nandasan from the beginning of the violence. One family which stayed behind was attacked on the night of April 3–4 by a mob of 40–50 people. Our home is one kilometre away. We were sleeping. It was my daughter who woke up saying, "Bapu, Aslam bapu is shouting". Then we all woke up and ran for shelter. A family from the Darbar community gave us protection.
They had protected the survivors from the attacked Ghanchi family too. We are terrified now. How can we go back? The sarkar is not for us. There is no one from the government for us. The village population is around 2,000. We were khet mazdoors (farm labourers). We also did the lobaan–batti (rituals) at the village dargah. The Ghanchi family and us, we were each other’s support. Now how can we go back? Nasir chacha helps us; we try to earn some money, too, here at Nandasan.
Khorsam village, Patan district
We were first at the camp at Kadih but came to Nandasan after a month. About 5-6 families; 25 persons. In our village the threats from Hindus continue so there is no question of our going back. A week ago we visited the village to check out on our homes and belongings; everything has been looted from our homes. We were told point blank that there is no need to come back.
The sarpanch, Amrutbhai Patel, a Congressman, is our supporter but he is outnumbered by the BJP group: Bholabhai Ambaram, Mukeshbhai Manilal and Chaturbhai Ishwarbhai Patel. He has been trying to get an assurance from them that if we go back "nothing will happen to the Muslims." But they are flatly refusing. Our families have been living there for 100 years or more. We cannot think of going back.
It is Nasir chacha who feeds us now. Sometimes we get some work in the fields, then we can eat on our own. One day we get work, three days we don’t. We need to be rehabilitated here at Nandasan. We have had to leave our homes and belongings which were stolen or destroyed behind, and now have to start from scratch.
Dawood Shah Suleman Shah
Sosai village,Visnagar taluka, Mehsana district
From the start of the violence, March 1, we are in Nandasan. We were a lone family of three persons in a village dominated by Patels. The total population of the village is 1,200. The only Muslim house, ours, and the dargah were broken and burned down. We have received no help from the government.
I had registered an FIR with the police 15/20 days later at Visnagar taluka, in which I had named 14 persons: Darbars, Patels, Kumbhars and Harijans whom we had seen leading and participating in the violence. The Visnagar taluka police station arrested them for eight days and then released them. I have a copy of the FIR, which was given to me a month later. All the names of the accused are listed there.
The police had applied to the district sessions court for remand; but the court refused it and allowed them to get out on bail. If we had got the remand as the police had asked for, I/we could at least have recovered our property. The sarpanch is a Harijan since ours is a reserved seat; he has not even asked about us. Being a lone family of Muslims in the whole village, how do we go back? We are old, staying with my granddaughter. Now we have to shift to Nandasan. There is no other way.
Dilawarbhai Jehnagirbhai Mehta
Adhundhara village (Niteen Patel, state cabinet minister hails from here)
Kadih taluka, Mehsana distrct
The police brought us to this camp on March 1. There are 110 Muslim houses in the village — 20 of them are okay but 90 are completely destroyed. Forty of the survivors are in the Nandasan camp; the remaining are in Kadih and Mandali camps. We live at the camp and try to earn some wages working in nearby fields. For four days we do not get any work, one day we do. We have lost our homes, a lot of property was destroyed, but we were lucky no lives were lost.
We have recorded the names of 5-6 persons as accused in the FIR. There has been no action by the police. So, with no support from anywhere, we cannot dream of staying in that village any more, our home for hundreds of years. The families from the 20 homes which were saved, stay there with the protection of two SRP men. But they are constantly harassed and abused by some members of the majority community.
Dariakhan Karimkhan Parmar
Of the 132 Muslim families from Chanasama, 90 are in Patan and 40 in the Nandasan camp. We had one terrible case of Jaanbi, a 60–year–old woman, who was burned alive at Chanasma. We were all there when it happened. We have filed an FIR and named Saileshkumar Sumbhai, Mukeshkumar Jayantibhai, Bhupendrabhai Keshulal who all are in jail. They are all active workers of the Bajrang Dal.
Arvind Tribhovandas Patel is our village sarpanch. He is from the BJP and he did nothing to help. Yesterday we heard from the village that the commonly spoken refrain is that "Miyanbhai nahin joyiye" ("We do not want Muslims here"). Our houses are broken. We can’t think of going back.
I had a chakki (flour mill) and also worked as a labourer. One Muslim owned an STD booth, another a cycle shop. All this has been completely destroyed. And what do we get as compensation? I got a cheque of Rs 1,200 from the government to rebuild my life and rehabilitate my family.
No one from Chanasma even comes to meet us. This is the sixth time that we have been attacked by the Bajrang Dal in the village. The background to the dispute is the controversy over the grazing land that has been held by Muslims (see Communalism Combat, October 2001)
Sabirshah Subratishah Fakir
Khoraj Khodiar, Gandhinagar district,(14 kms from Gandhinagar, the state capital)
The trouble started on Feb. 28. We had had a local dispute over a kabrastan. The Patels forced us to leave and then one month later, homes in Indiranagar were burned and completely destroyed. Muslims have fled to Rajpur, Mandali and Nandasan.
We had moved to the village 13 years ago, from Mahuda Nadiad. Since the attacks on our homes, the Patels have been warning us not to return. They say that anyone not originally from the village returns at their risk. They will not protect us. We were four families from Nadiad who had shifted here. We are labourers and also do the deeva-batti (ritual) at the local dargah. We used to earn Rs 100 a month but can’t dream of going back now. We hope to get some assistance to rebuild our homes in Nandasan.
Mantharbhai Alana Sindhi
Khatrej Chokdi, Kalol taluka, Gandhinagar district
We were nine families living at the Kamaldev estate at the Jamadar chowky. On February 28, terrified by the frightening atmosphere around, we went to the Gangotri Hotel for security. We were daily wage earners at the hotel for 10 years. The owner of the hotel brought us to the Nandasan camp where we have been living for over four months. We try and earn a daily wage around here. One day we get food, another day we go hungry.
Pansar village, Kalol taluka, Gandhinagar district
Twenty–five persons belonging to four families from our village are now in the Nandasan camp. In Pansar village, there are about 450–500 Muslims. We have been holed up here for four months, because there is a boycott by the villagers who say they do not want a single Muslim in the village. The government is not helping at all either.
The sarpanch of our village, Gopalbhai Maganbhai Patel belongs to the BJP. The mamlatdar had directed him to get us back. He flatly refused. He said, "We do not want Muslims in our village."
On top of that, is the utterly uncaring government. I have received a cheque of Rs 500 to rebuild my house; my neighbour has received Rs 1,000. Many have not received a single paisa. Is this not a mockery of the people who have suffered?
There is safety in numbers here. We will work and rebuild our lives. But first we need to think of building our homes, from nothing that remains.
Salimbhai Ramzanbhai Sipahi
I have been at the Nandasan camp for over four months. Three days after the violence started, the village sarpanch left us here for our safety though there was nothing obviously to fear in the village. The village sarpanch is Lalitbhai Ransodbhai Patel who belongs to the BJP. I am originally from Radhanpur, living for 25 years in Raisan; doing manual labour and small trade. We never had a problem before this.
In all, there are 10 Muslim homes in the village. All of us are in this camp. The total village is 900–1000- strong. We have not returned since that day. We are told that are homes have not been damaged yet but no one is ready to take us back. There has been no FIR, no police complaint. We are at a loss as to what to do.
Kausermiya Ziauddinmiya Ghauri
On the night of February 28, near the government godown at Indiravasat railway station where we lived, 42 of our homes were set on fire by a mob that came from outside. An ironsmith, a Muslim who lived amongst us, died confronting the mob. At 4 a.m. we all left in his funeral procession. Our homes were completely gutted after we left.
I belong to the Prantij Vohra Jamaat. We arrived at the Nandasan Rahat Camp with four family members. Many from our society are with relatives, some are in a home in Himmat-nagar. We are planning to rebuild our homes and live elsewhere. We have had no help from the government. For 13–14 years things were okay. We had built the colony, the road, the water supply, everything. But suddenly with the poison and hatred being spread and the presence of the Bakshipanch — persons belonging to the Darbar caste, Harijans and Vagharis makes it very dangerous now.
Our colony was attacked twice before, in 1985 and in 1992; then this time. The first two times we managed to face the mobs and fend them off. This time, however, we could not face a mob of 5–6,000. We are all working class people — among us are bidi workers, truck drivers, farm labourers.
For 13–14 years, we had our homes there and now they have been destroyed. We will try and exchange that plot for a plot in Nandasan. We cannot hope to go back.
We fled to the camps right at the start of the violence when 25–30 of our homes belonging to the housing board were gutted and destroyed. We have not received a paisa in compensation. We first went to the Mandali camps and then came here. Now we try and earn our daily wages here. Our homes, costing Rs 1-3 lakhs, have been destroyed and the government has given us absolutely nothing.
What do we do? We are illiterate. We need a plot of land that
only the government can give so that we can re–build our homes and live there.
This camp had 2,700 refugees from Tejgadh, Panvad, Kanvat and Kadval, Kalarani. The camp formally stopped running from the middle of June. Today, while the camp is not formally running, the SRC is actively involved in rehabilitation by building homes through assistance received from organisations in Bharuch/Ankleshwar and Delhi.
Persons displaced violently from Kanvat, have returned and are living in 150 rented houses there. A fortnight ago, residents of 175 homes shifted back to Panvad and are living in the madrassa and masjid there. Fifty-six homes at Kadval have been re–built. Sixteen homes within Kalarani and another 16 surrounding the village have been re–built.
People have received compensation amounts ranging from Rs 10-30,000 per family. According to a detailed survey done by us, 140 homes in Kanvat, 175 in Panvad, 55 in Kadval proper, 45 around Kalarani, 15 in Karvat and 80–90 in Tejgadh were completely looted, gutted and destroyed.
What we need today, to enable speedy rehabilitation, is tin sheets (temporary building materials) for families; this will cost about Rs 30,000 per family. This would help return people to their homes and livelihood.
We have experienced some genuine regret being voiced by the adivasis. They even say that the rains are not coming because you are unhappy. They say the government and the party in power misled them; the same forces that now want ‘normalcy’ for the elections. We hope that the regret that they express is genuine because adivasis and minorities have had a close and abiding relationship.
Our camp was formally closed down by the government on June 15. We had 2,250 refugees then. We had families here from Piplod, Fatehpura, Jahlod, Sukhsar and Sanjeli. Twenty–five to thirty families are now living in rented houses at Dahod. We are still giving grains to 45 families who are economically in very poor shape.
Our assessment is that most have received compensation cheques from the government though the amounts vary and are insufficient considering the losses suffered. Some have received Rs 5,000 and others Rs. 35-40,000. Today the atmosphere has considerably improved. As part of the Muslim Ghanchi panchayat relief committee we even run depots for building materials so that survivors can receive/buy building materials for 40 per cent less than the market cost.
Usman Khan Pathan
Today we have 400 refugees living here, earlier we had 700. The government has officially shut down our camp on July 1 and stopped giving us any grain. Yet we are feeding 400 people.
We have been fortunate and were able to complete some rehabilitation with the help of different organisations. About 100 homes were built by us at a cost of Rs 4.70 lakhs (including land) with the help of an organisation from Dhol, Bhavnagar, The government has never given more than Rs 5 per head and some ration grains as relief. All the persons here have received compensation amounts for homes destroyed, though the amount was minimal: Rs 15–17,000. This is one-fifth the cost of their houses.
Dasaj town has a population of about 10,000. We hope to accommodate some of the displaced persons here. The 250 Muslim families of Unjha (a population of 55,000) who do not have land but are essentially traders and businessmen need to re-locate because the atmosphere in this Patel–Harijan dominated village has been brutal and completely non-conducive to any return or reconciliation. We hope to receive something from organisations in Delhi towards this.
This camp has 125 refugees whereas earlier there were 400. Now, mainly the families from Sardarpur and Ladol remain. Families of Visnagar have returned after the local atmosphere improved. But no compensation has been received by them yet.
Maulana Ismail Sarodi
One month back our camp was closed down. Most persons have returned to their original homes in their villages. Residents of Anand, Tajapur, Kheda and Sojihura have returned. But the refugees from three villages, Odh, Moghri and Karamsad and Sarodi have just not been able to return.
Those who have returned have had no threats but they did need to work out a compromise before they could go back. In some cases, the sarpanches or village leaders even asked for verbal assurances that the police cases would be taken back. But this has not been done.
Through our committee we have distributed temporary shelters that cost Rs 15–20,000 per home in 54 villages. We have received help from many sources, Muslim and non–Muslim.
On May 31, our camp was closed on paper, even though the leader of the Opposition Amarsinh Choudhary paid us a visit on June 11! We had 300–400 persons in the camp then. Now we have none, most people have gone. The 12 families from Anjanva are in Godhra, living in rented accommodation, 20 other families from Anjanva are in Lunavada in rented houses, the Randhikpur families are in Baria except one, which is in Godhra.
We had a supportive collector earlier, who did not let the camp close; she has been removed, so the school camp is closed; we are now in a building opposite.
The Lunavada camp has 5-600 persons still. Most of the families are from Pandharvada, Anjanva and other villages around.
The atmosphere in the Panchmahal villages differs from village to village. In Anjanva the talati took the Muslims back a few days ago. But Hindu women came out to say that now that Muslims will begin tending their fields again, what about the fields of those who have been arrested and are in jail, among the Hindus? These comments caused a lot of fear; and though the women are staying on there is terror.
Similarly, in Natapur, Baria, Salia and Godhra there is tension and fear. Those refugees who had sought shelter in the camps of Kalol, Halol and Dahod have not gone back to their original homes but are living in rented homes in Lunavada town. The residents of Fatehpura have returned as also those from Sanjeli.
The case of Dailol station is interesting. This was the town where 38 persons were killed in the village. A Tasia family which was in the timber-cutting business used to live near the station. On February 27, sensing trouble, the family handed over their ‘ara machine’ (log–cutting machine) to a Hindu neighbour to run. For two months he ran it. When the Tasia family returned to the village, he handed them back the machine.
Within days, the Hindu received three letters signed by a gaonvaasi (village resident). The letters warned, "In the next round, even you will not be spared. We do not want Muslims, anyway. But in the next round, you, too, will go."
We have shown these threatening letters to the DSP and the collector on whose specific nudges and assurances we had told refugees to make the painful trip back to the village.
The other issue in Godhra is the non–release on bail of over 40 innocent Muslims, 19 of whom are detained in Nadiad and 23 in Baroda jails. Both sections 436 and 307 (rioting and attempt to murder) have been applied.
On June 30 this camp was formally closed but we still have 460 inmates from Pandharvada and Anjanva. The camp ran from March 7 to June 30. Today, 12 widows’ from Anjanva will complete there iddat period. So in the next few days they will go back on a trial basis. Five families from Pandharwada went back on a trial basis after five meetings with the villagers. The common refrain was that you may return but remove the names of the accused from the FIRs and chargesheets.
Twelve widows have received compensation for lives lost. But one Ameenabi Kalubhai from Anjanva whose husband’s body was not found and hence is in the missing category has not received anything. We have heard that former NCW chairperson Mohini Giri is considering building a widows home here soon.
The atmosphere in the villages is risky. Now? with the transfer of the collector and the DSP who had kept things in the Panchmahals on a tight leash, we are extremely worried.
Another issue is the illegal detention of innocents who were arrested. Eighty–four persons are also detained in Lunavada; a person who had just returned from Haj pilgrimage was illegally detained on March 15. Courts just do not want to entertain the bail applications.
Allah Rakha Shaikh,
There are 75 Muslim families from Por whose homes were completely gutted using gas cylinders for arson on March 1. Even the masjid, dargah and kabrastan were destroyed. The instigators, 53 of who were arrested, had been named, with others, in the FIRs. They have been given bail on the condition that they don’t leave Gujarat. The Gandhi-nagar district court had rejected bail, but the High Court granted it after four months. We have also filed a case for adequate compensation in the HC.
Only the Thakores and Vagharis who looted and from whom some of our things were recovered have been arrested. Due to pressure from Patels we could not succeed in getting the bigwigs arrested. The zilla panchayat president Suman Patel and Raman Patel, both of whom also belong to the Bajrang Dal had led the attack. Then we decided not to push too hard since we do not want too much enmity as we have to come back and stay in the same village.
Some 400 homes belonging to 62 families had been destroyed, for which we have now received Rs 35-45,000 each. In the beginning we were given a paltry Rs 3–5,000. We made an application for re–survey and the collector was sympathetic; he summoned us all, did a re–survey and finally gave us the revised bigger amounts.
This is also not sufficient since the total damage is about Rs 2 crores. How do we repair our masjid, the kabrastan and the dargah? CM Modi has refused to give money. The State is flatly refusing to take responsibility. In all, Muslims have around 100 bighas of land; also good milch cattle which have been stolen.
Since the incident, up to now, there have been at least 50 meetings with the police, the collector, village leaders and us, the affected persons. The Gandhinagar district minister and local MLA, Vadilal Patel, was present at some of the meetings.
Orally, we have been repeatedly told at the meetings that we should withdraw our cases against the accused. So far we have just said that once it becomes a police case, we cannot withdraw. Fortunately, the SP was transferred and the new SP arrested the accused and they were in jail for three days.
This enraged the Patels. Now they are translating their anger and putting pressure through an economic boycott. We are 400 Muslims in a village of about 5,000 people. Muslim women have traditionally worked in the fields of the Patels and our youngsters have driven their trucks and other vehicles. Now they refuse to have any dealings with us. So there is no work and there is impending starvation.
In the Por violence, three women and three children were killed during the attack, which was led by the zilla panchayat president Suman Patel and Raman Patel who also belongs to the Bajrang Dal. It was a Friday. The sarpanch had told us not to worry; he would protect us. But when we were attacked soon after namaaz, PI Jhalla acted in a biased manner.
All of us just got into three trucks to flee. One truck would not start; people started getting out to get into another. They squeezed in. They requested PI Jhalla to take us through the farms, not the village. He said, "Kya aap ka baap ka raj hai kya?" He took us through the village. Near the Patel society stone throwing began; 80 were hurt and six died due to asphyxiation.
Now after that tragedy we are faced with a social and economic boycott. This year we decided that the urs of the dargah in Por would be simple; we would just have a fatiha and a Koran khani. We sent an invitation to the Patels but they refused to come.
The mention of "a 1,500 strong crowd of Muslims and a 1,500 crowd of Hindus" in the police FIR regarding the March 1 incident has distorted the whole picture when not a single home or property of any Hindu has been destroyed.
We had mentioned names and given details of the weapons used. We complained separately to the DGP/SP/DSP and the district collector. The earlier DSP gave us no hearing, while one PI told us: "We will burn you like your homes." Due to the threats we received, we made an application for transfer of the case to the crime branch but to no avail.
We have lived in Por for generations. Today, we live there desperate without any livelihood. We are trying to get all the affected persons the rahat card (free rations for six months).
The atmosphere in Por had worsened over the last one and a half years, after 100–150 Hindu boys of the village became members of the Bajrang Dal. The mohalla next to the society where we live is a Swaminarayan Gurukul. This sanstha’s mahant is one Purushottamdas Charandas Shastri. I have documentary evidence that he is very communal.
I am the former deputy sarpanch. What we are experiencing now is a terrible social and economic boycott. The ration from the government is not enough. The other villagers are threatening us because of our complaints. At this point we do not want to compromise. So they are squeezing us economically.
Rahimchacha Miyabhai Shaikh
We live in 75 homes; about 450 persons. We need business badly. If some idaara (organisation) can train our boys from three villages who are facing similar boycott it would be good. We are largely dependent on agriculture. Our businesses have been destroyed; our borewells and pumps have been ruined. Personally I have suffered a damage of Rs 2–3 lakhs. Our women used to milch cattle. If we could get some cattle, we could supply milk to the dairy. Gandhinagar is only 10 kms away; Ahmedabad and Kalol only 15 kms. Three cities are nearby.
Ten of our rickshaws were burned; the truck drivers are jobless.
Malek Kasim Sardarmiyan
I am a member of the gram panchayat since last year. My home has been destroyed and I have suffered damages of about Rs 2 lakh. I had a buffalo shed with eight buffaloes. Two are found while others have been stolen. My borewell is gone, so 50 bighas of my brother’s and my land are now without water.
Rashidmiya Alimiyan Malek
Like others, I too have suffered losses. I am in the SRP, posted at Rajkot. But since the villagers shifted to Mandali relief camp I have been on leave with them as I can give them some protection.
Akhtarbhai Bhikhubhai Malek
One of my rickshaws was burnt. Six others were also totally destroyed in the neighbourhood. Even if I had the rickshaw, what is the use? The villagers no longer hire our vehicles. How long can we survive like this?
There were six persons in the village who died from asphyxiation, trying to escape. Two were from my family: Mahibaibibi (65) and Ilyas Hussain (2). The others who died are Fatimabibi (50), Sakeena Bibi (65) Farukh Hussain (5) and Shoaib (10).