From 7.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on Thursday, February 28, a 20-25,000 strong mob surrounded the Chamanpura area in the heart of Ahmedabad city. The FIR lodged by KG Erda of the Meghani Nagar police station (Communalism Combat has a copy) gives a blow-by-blow account of the utter failure of the police to put off the assailants and protect the residents.
The FIR admits that the arson and destruction began from that morning itself. What is not contained in the FIR, but is a fact to which an eyewitness survivor and two Yuva Congress members were witness, is that the commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, PC Pandey, visited Ehsan Jaffri at 10.30 a.m. sharp, and assured him of police reinforcements.
The CP stands directly indicted as he did not keep his promise of sending police help. The few men who were deputed from the Meghani Nagar chowky, merely watched as 70 persons were butchered and burned. The 10-12 women among the victims were brutally gang raped. The centre of an Indian commercial city saw a medieval and macabre dance of death, humiliation and revenge heaped on women, children and men.
10.30 a.m.: Police commissioner Pandey, Ambalal Nadia, the Congress mahamantri, Ward No. 19 and Kannulal Solanki from Ward No. 20 visit Jaffri and give him an assurance that they would send reinforcements and he would be fully protected.
The Zahir Bakery and an auto-rickshaw are burnt.
12.15-12.30 p.m.: Stones, acid bulbs, bottles, petrol bombs are thrown at Gulberg Society from the rear side of the complex of buildings and bungalows.
12.30-12.45 p.m.: From the terrace of an adjacent bungalow belonging to a non-Muslim, there is heavy stone throwing, including big boulders. This caused the biggest damage because without this attack the residents might have been able to protect themselves.
1-1.15 p.m.: The volley of huge stones, plus acid bulbs and burning cloth balls continues. At 1 p.m., one Yusuf is caught, cut up and torched.
2.30-2.45 p.m.: Amid shouts of "Ghusijao," suddenly the gate at the rear end of the Society, near the railway tracks is broken down.
2.45 p.m.: Anwar is killed. The accused bring in logs from the nearby Sansar Bakery, prepare 4 pyres; Anwar is cut up in pieces and burnt.
3-3.30 p.m.: Ehsan Jaffri is pulled out of his house, brutally treated for 45 minutes, stripped, paraded naked, and asked to say, "Vande Manatram!" and "Jai Shri Ram!" He refuses. His fingers are chopped off, he is paraded around in the locality, badly injured. Next, his hands and feet are chopped off. He is then dragged, a fork-like instrument clutching his neck, down the road before being thrown into the fire. After this, Shafi Mohammed Munawar Sheikh is also cut into three pieces and burnt alive. Jaffri was killed along with his three brothers and two nephews.
3.30-4.30 p.m.: 10-12 women are first raped, then cut into pieces with guptis and then thrown into the fire. There is one survivor.
4.30-5.00 p.m.: The police finally arrives.
5.20 p.m.: The police party trying to rescue the people is stoned.
7.00 p.m.: The survivors are taken out of the place under police escort.
Ten to twelve gas cylinders were exploded that day. According to eyewitness accounts and the full list of dead and missing persons attached to the FIR, in all 60-70 persons have died — 49 from the society and 10-12 from outside who had come to seek shelter at Jaffri’s place. This is not the figure mentioned officially. (59, is what the official figure released.)
Exclusive documents obtained by CC give minute details of the addresses of the accused. So far, only 19 out of the 25 persons named by eye witnesses have been arrested.
"We will not rest till we have justice," a survivor told the author of this report. "If there is to be any hope or will left in this country and its people, we will get justice. Or else there is no hope," another added.
Manoj Kumar, a Hindu neighbour, said: "They pulled the babies out with the men, then poured petrol over them and burnt them. Police stood back." PC Pandey, Ahmedabad’s police commissioner, shrugged and said: "We were outnumbered."(The Times of India, March 2).
There are 25-30 accused identified by eyewitnesses and survivors. As against this only 19 persons were arrested.
The First Information Report in the Chamanpura Mass Arson Case:
The first FIR filed by KG Erda, senior inspector of the Meghani Nagar police station names 10 persons and a mob of 20-25,000 as the accused. On Feb. 28, the incident carried on from 10.30 a.m.-7 p.m. Complaint was filed at 8.45 p.m. the same day.
The sections applied in the FIR are: IPC 143, 141, 148, 149, 302, 332, 323, 336, 337, 435, 436, 427, 186, 188, 120(b), Bombay Police Act (1). Also, sections 25(1) (a) and (b) of the Arms Act. All relevant sections have been applied except section 376 (rape). Eighteen persons from the mob which attacked, were injured in police firing. But this has not been recorded by the police.
On March 2, a new section was added. The first FIR number 61/2002 was filed, identifying crimes under sections 395, 396, 397 (loot) of the IPC. On 12/3/02,other sections added that are: sections 398, 295(a), 153(a)(1), 153(a)(2)(b), and 188 of the IPC and section 37(1) of the Bombay Police Act.
Erda says: "On the day VHP has organised a Gujarat bandh" that eyewitnesses saw Girish, Ramesh Dhulchand (fake jewellery), Mangalal Dhulchand Jain (Adinath Kirana Store), Asish Chunawala’s son, Ramesh (Sadhna Store), Mukesh Mochi, Gabbar, Alpesh, a man with ghungroowala (curly) hair who has a daroo dhanda, Deepak alias Pradeep (BJP worker).
"Accused of Unlawful Arm Assembly, the maal-milkat (property and earnings) of Muslims was burnt with kerosene, 18 Muslims were cut and burnt, 24 were burnt alive. Both the police and Muslims were attacked with stones, petrol bombs, acid bombs and vehicles were burnt by the mob. "
In the second FIR filed by KG Erda, senior inspector, police station no. 4/5/200, the officer says:
"Under Meghani Nagar, there is an inspector in charge, two police inspectors, two sub-inspectors, 42 head constables and 80 police constables and 3 women police constables. On that day, there were 2 police inspectors, 6 sub-inspectors, 55 head constables, 62 police constables, 3 women, 1 police inspector, 1 sub-inspector on duty. 6 head constables, 6 police constables and 3 women constables were on duty. On the patrol there was one police inspector, 5 head constables, 34 police constables and 1 woman constable.
"On 27th February, when VHP kar sevaks were martyred, the whole state was tense and since 27th February, special bandobast was undertaken at different points in the city.
"At 7 a.m. on 28th February, the Meghani Police Station got an order from the CP for all of us "to stand to." We organised bandobast in the Meghani area, Chamanpura Chakla, Gulberg Society, Dhupsingh Chali, Ratnanagar char rasta, Ramannagar new crossing, Meghani Nagar bus stand, New Menta Bari, Meena Bazaar and Rashmi nagar society.
"On duty were mobile police sub-inspector, BC Dabhi, Requisite Crime No. Ramesh Bhai, head constable, Nathabhai, police constable Sureshbhai and Narjibhai, head constables Bhupendra and Shailesh Singh.
"The police contingent was as needed and armed with tear gas shells. There was enough bandobast at Meghani Nagar.
"At 7 a.m. on 28th February, the mob started attacking the mattress shop, the bakery and the cycle shop. They were breaking all the shops and destroying things and burning them. At this stage, police dispersed the crowd.
"The patrolling was carrying on when at 13.30 p.m. a huge crowd came from all directions — Om Nagar Chakala Road and Meghani Nagar. I called the police on the mobile. The mob had talwars, lakdis, pipes and kerosene and they were shouting, ‘Jai Shri Ram!’
"The mob was 20-25,000 strong. We policemen were shouting, trying to disperse the mob. We were using the mobile announcement and saying that ‘you are an unlawful assembly.’ The mob paid no attention to the warnings. They turned more violent by this time. The bakeries, the cycle shop, the electric shops, the mattress shops, the furniture shops and vehicles were completely destroyed.
"The mobs had put obstruction on the roads and were looting the shops. We let off tear gas and warnings, we even lathi-charged but the crowd was "possessed" and shouting, ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ At this stage, the police did let off the tear gas – four shells were let off. The mob turned even more violent and started throwing stones on the police. The police took all lawful steps. I fired one round with my revolver. I tried to take effective steps.
"But the crowd did not disperse. It became violent. Around this time, the Gulberg Society which has mainly Muslims living there, was attacked by a mob from behind where the railway station was. There was stone throwing and burning and the huge mob even broke the railway track. I could hear shouts of "Ghusijao" and from the direction of Om Nagar and Chakla road, the mob tore down the gates, started burning property and people and throwing stones.
"At this stage there was private firing by Muslims. The DCP Zone 4 and additional CP sector 2 were there. One person, Dinesh, died as a result of police firing. By this time women and men from the Gulberg society, bodies were lying dead. The Gulberg society contains 19 blocks and 8 buildings. Women and children were hiding themselves to save their lives on the lofts. From all four sides they were attacked by mobs: ‘Finish off all Muslims; our people were not spared by them, don’t have mercy.’ These were the shouts.
"We kept issuing warnings to disperse the mob, we even opened fire. Shravanji Lathoji Vanjara and one more was injured in private firing."
In one of it’s most controversial decisions, the Narendra Modi government has handed over investigation to PN Barot, assistant police commissioner, a man with connections to the VHP.
Mohammmed Shareifbhai Nasiruddin Sheikh,
(Interviewed on March 23)
Sharief Bhai is a survivor of the Chamanpura mass arson. He lost his wife, Nasreen and two daughters. The owner of a prosperous electronic business, he could have escaped with his family but he was at the forefront, along with young men, warding off the murderous attack.
Today, he and his son Sahil (10) are the sole survivors of his family. When I met him on March 24, he told me that he had not cried so far. Justice, even if it is a long and arduous fight, is what he seeks and is willing to fight for.
Gulberg Society, Chamanpura, Ahmedabad
(Interviewed at Behrampura, Ahmedabad on March 9)
I rescued one-year-old Afrin who is now with her grandmother Shahdab. Her family members who lived next to Ehsan Jaffri at Gulberg Society, were hacked, brutalised and killed on February 28. Their names are Anwar Khan, Zaitun Bibi, Akhtar Khan and Sajida Bano. It took me four days to reunite Afrin with her grandmother. The Madavpura police station simply refused to co-operate.
Advocate and brother-in-law of Shariefbhai. He shared with Communalism Combat a confidential list of all the eyewitnesses who saw the entire scene:
I. Ayub Habib Khan Pathan: (Lives opp. Gulberg society): At 10.30 a.m. on February 28, he saw and recognised accused 1) Bharat Rajput 2) Girish Prabhude Sharma 3) A man wearing specs and with a half-sleeve T-shirt; about 5 feet 5 inches, of medium build, with a thin beard. He is the main witness to all that happened on that day.
II. Altaf Gulabkhan Pathan: At 10.35 a.m., a rickshaw (No. GJ9Y786) and a Luna were burnt. The Luna belongs to him. He saw and recognised 1) Bharat Rajput; 2) Girish Prabhude Sharma; 3) A man wearing specs, wearing a half-sleeve T-shirt, about 5 feet 5 inches, of medium build, with a thin beard 4); Kapil, son of Munnabhai (a good friend of Mohammed Sharief; 5) Dharmesh Prahladbhai; 6) Lala Mohan Singh Darbar 7) Amlesh (he broke the lock of a tailor’s shop, took out all the clothes that were there and burnt them). Accused Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are accused of the same offense.
Accused Nos. 1 to 4 are iat 8.45 p.m.mplicated in the burning of the Luna and a rickshaw. This witness also saw the following: between 11.30 a.m. and 12 noon: 8) the deputy mayor of Ahmedabad, Jagrupsinh Rajput (former BJP person, today with the Congress) 9) Chunilal Prajapati (ex-municipal corporator, former BJP, today independent) and 10) Meghsingh Guptsinh Chaudhary (ex-corporator who belongs to the Congress (I).)
III. Habib Khan Bhumekhan (father of Ayub, witness I):
At 10.30 a.m., he saw with his own eyes, the attack on his other son, Yusuf. The attack was carried out by Dinesh Prabhudas Sharma who killed Yusuf with a sword. (The other witness to this incident was Saeed Khan Ahmed Khan Pathan).
IV. Saeed Khan Ahmed Khan Pathan (Lives at 18, Gulberg Society): From his terrace he saw Accused No. 1-3 and Accused Nos. 4-7 brandishing guptis. He saw his own brother and Ehsan Jaffri’s brother killed at 2.45 p.m. Kailash Dhobi plus two ‘Bhaiyyajis’ killed Anwar Khan Pathan (elder brother of Saeed Khan) with talwar (swords). They also killed Aslam, Ehsan Jaffri’s brother; and when his son (Jaffri’s nephew) tried to save his father, his two fingers were cut off.
V. Saeed Khan Ahmed Khan Pathan saw Ehsan Jaffri being pulled out of his house by 1) Mahesh Prabhudas Jain (owner of Kirana Provision Store in the neighbourhood); 2) Narayan Kabra Channelwala; 3) Krishna (son of Champabehn); 4) Ramesh alias Choti; 5) Dinesh Prabhude Sharma. Ehsan Jaffri was paraded naked, humiliated, fingers cut off, body cut into three pieces and burnt. All the assailants had made a huge funeral pyre with logs of wood in front of Gulberg Society and were throwing the cut up bodies into the flames.
VI. Saeed is also an eyewitness to rapes conducted by Accuse Nos. 6 & 7, Lakia and Lala Mohanji Darbar.
VII. Aslam Anwar Khan Pathan saw his father being burnt by three Accused 1) Kailash Dhobi and 2) two ‘Bhaiyyajis’.
VIII. Aslam Anwar Khan Pathan also saw his brother Akhtar Anwar Khan Pathan being killed by Kailash Dhobi and two ‘Bhaiyyajis’ (Aslam and Saeed are residents of 18, Gulberg Society).
IX. Aslam Kasambhai Mansuri. He is a resident of Bungalow No. 2, Gulberg Society and is also an eyewitness. He is undergoing treatment at V S Hospital (Case No 851) since February 28.
X. Firoz Mohammed Gulzar Mohammed Pathan (Resident of 15, Gulberg Society. He is an eyewitness who has lost 5 family members): He saw 1) Kapil, son of Munnabhai, 2) Chunnilal Prajapati, 3) Narayan Channelwala and 4) Ambesh Kantilal gathering logs of wood and tyres and throwing bodies of the persons killed into the fire. Firoz saw "pol" gate of the society near the railway track being broken, those responsible for bringing it down were Girish Prabhudas Sharma, Ramesh Choti, JT Paanwala (living in P. Bhatirani Chawl). Firoz also saw killing and looting by Mahendra Pukhraj Marwadi and Mukesh Pukhraj Marwadi (living in Chandulal Samardas Chawl in Chamanpura).
Firoz saw his own mother and father being killed. His mother was raped in front of his eyes before being killed. Totally, Firoz has lost 5 family members—Gulzar Mohammed Noor Mohammed Pathan (55), Mariambi Gulzar Mohammed Pathan, Firdosh Bano Gulzar Mohammed Pathan (sister), Irfan Mohammed Gulzar Mohammed Pathan (brother) and Imran Mohammed Gulzar Mohammed Pathan (brother).
XI. Salim Abdulbhai Mansuri saw 1) Mangilal Dhulchand Jain 2) Naginbhai Patni and 3) Kiranawala Mangilal burning and attacking the society. Bungalow No. 1 of Gulberg Society had been sold to one Dayaram Mochi. He was the only non-Muslim in the society and he allowed his home to be used on February 28th to attack his neighbours. This, for the survivors ,was the biggest form of treachery.
XII. Imtiaz saw Bharat Rajput, Girish Prabhudas Sharma, the man in a half-sleeve, white T-shirt, Gabbar, Mahendra Pukhraj Marwadi, Mukesh Pukhraj Marwadi, Mangilal Dhulchand Jain and Nagin Patni along with many other people in Dayaram Mochi’s house, preparing to attack.
XIII. Zaiki, wife of Mohammed Rafiq living in Bungalow No. 11, who was also injured seriously, is also an eyewitness. She is under going treatment in hospital.
XIV. Firozbhai Bandeali Sheikh (Flat No. 13 Gulberg Apts.): Saw Chunnilal Prajapati and Kapil, son of Munna (living in Babusangh Madesinh chali) leading attacks.
XV. Dilawar Sikandar Sheikh (he had come for shelter from Chandulal Shameldas Chali, Chamanpura), saw Dharmesh, Kapil, son of Munnabhai, Kali Daya Bhai and Boba Patni.
XVI. Shairabehn Salimbhai Sandhi (Bungalow No. 6, Gulberg): She saw Kailash Dhobi pull out Jaffri, along with Narayan Channnelwala, Rajput, Nelson Chaudhary.
XVII. Salimbhai Noor Mohammed saw Champabehn’s son (Krishna), Manish Prabhudas Jain (owner of Raja’s Kirana Store). He also saw Dayaram Mochi’s son and Dayaram Kirana.
XVIII. Ashrafbhai Sikandarbhai Sandhi saw Gabbar throwing stones from Bungalow No. 1. He also saw Kapil, son of Munnabhai, Ambesh, Manish and Dharmesh attacking the Gulberg Society furiously.
XIX. Rashida Dilawar (resident of Chandulal Chali who had come for Gulberg Society for shelter): She saw Dharmesh (in Bungalow No. 1), Kapil, Ambesh, Bhupesh, Gabbar and Narayan Kabra leading attacks.
XX. Himmatbhai Ghulambhai (also from Chandulal Chali), saw the same 6 persons leading the attacks.
XXI. Babu Khan Ishaq Khan Pathan (Janakbehn Chali), saw Mangelal Patni carrying out arson and looting.
Addresses of the accused:
1) Girish Prabhudas Sharma (26); In the truck body business; Patni Society, Chamanpura.
Supplied 5 litre kerosene drums for arson.
2) Dinesh Prabhudas Sharma (23); Patni Society, Chamanpura.
Supplied 5 litre kerosene drums for arson; supplied petrol drums for burning people.
3) Ramesh Choti (30); son of Panditji; Bangle-seller with a shop next to Asha Trading, Patni Nagar Society, Chamanpura.
4) Kapil (22); son of Ram Narain (Munna); works in a petrol pump near Swami Narayan Mandir, Babusingh Madhesinh Society, opp. Gulberg Society, Chamanpura.
Supplied trishuls and petrol; belongs to the Bajrang Dal.
5) Suresh Alias Kali Dhobi (22); he is a washerman; Babusingh Madhesinh Society, Opp. Gulberg Society, Chamanpura.
6) Narayan Tonk alias Kabra – Channelwala (40); Gheewali Chali, Chamanpura.
Stone throwing and stabbing.
7) Bharat Lakshman Rajput, he lives behind Ramji Mandir and works behind Dr. Sultan’s Dispensary, Chamanpura.
8) Surendra (22); son of Champabehn; His father-in-law owns Asha Trading Company, his mother works in Shevan Clinic as a compounder, Dr. Gandhi Chawl, Chamanpura.
9) Krishna (son of Champabehn); Dr. Gandhi Chali, Chamanpura.
10) Lala Mohanji Darbar; involved in illegal liquor business; Dr. Gandhi Chali, Chamanpura.
He has been seen by eyewitnesses actually committing rape.
11) Sushil Brij Mohan Sharma (26); works in the Home Guards; Resident of Ramchandra Colony, Takri, Chamanpura.
12) Poona Sinh Rajput (40-42); works in Arvind Mills; a Congress (I) activist; Resident of Opp. Gheewali Chawl, above Ramlal Uttamchand, Chamanpura.
He was seen with a knife in hand.
13) Manish Prabhudas Jain (25); Owner Raja Kirana Store,
Resident of Dr. Gandhi Chali, Chamanpura.
14) Dharmesh (20); son of Ram Achal Pathak; involved in illegal liquor business, Resident of Chandulal Chali, Chamanpura.
15) Gabbar; son of Mandan Jhingar; (Thin and short, has an uncle in the police. The uncle’s name is Ashok Jhingar). He makes chappals; Resident of Babusingh Madhesinh Chali, Opp. Gulberg Society, Chamanpura.
He was in Bungalow No. 1 leading the assault on Gulberg Society.
16) Chunnilal Prajapati (55); ex-municipal corporator, from BJP.
Resident of Mohanlal Wadi, Chamanpura.
Was seen inciting the mob.
17) Mehsingh Dudhsinh Chaudhary (45); an advocate and ex-municipal corporator of the Congress. Jaffri, a senior member of the party, had not chosen him for the ticket this time; Chamanpura.
18) Jagrup Sinh Rajput (48); an advocate and ex-deputy mayor of Ahmedabad, Navi Chali, Om Nagar Road, Chamanpura.
19) Dayaram Mochi; living in Bungalow No. 1 and Ashok alias Jhingar; Resident of Bungalow No. 1, Gulberg Society, Chamanpura.
Mochi allowed his home to be used as a place of attack.
20) Mangelal Jain (32); owns the Adhinath Kirana Store, Opposite Chamanpura Pumping Station.
He led the attack on Jaffery’s house.
21) Dilip Suraj Bali; Ramchandra Colony, Near Water Tanker, Chamanpura.
22) Naresh Krishnadas Brahmania, In the illegal liquor business. Talati Nagar, Near Rohidas Bus Station, Block No. 32, Talati Nagar.
23) Lakhia (27); lives in Block 55, Talati Nagar. (He is 5 feet 5 inches tall. Has long hair which is red in colour.)
He was responsible for the rapes.
24) Girish Alias Kalia (25); Lives near Rohidas bus stop.
25) Others have given the name of Dhobi Kailash, living at Gopal Nagar. They said he is dark complexioned, was carrying a mobile phone, was wearing an earring and was seen by many persons with a talwar. Madan Mochi’s son, Gabbar was also seen.