(Salatnagar in Gomtipur had approximately 260 hutments, in which about 1,500 inhabitants resided. On March 1, about 2,000 miscreants came and reduced these hutments together with the household belongings to ash. The leaders of this crowd wore saffron headbands and saffron belts with trishuls tucked in them. Many among them wielded swords.
This mob was allegedly assisted by the PSI of ‘D’ staff of Gomtipur, Modi, in setting fire to the hutments. Modi arrived in his own jeep (registration number GJ-1-AR-5342) and stopped opposite Ambika Mill No.1 at about 12 o’clock in the afternoon.
A resident and eyewitness to the police complicity, Mohan Bundela, who is part of a housing rights organisation, Jansangharsh Manch, has filed an FIR against the police addressed to the DySP of the Gomtipur Police Station.)
Salatnagar hutments, Gomtipur, Ahmedabad
(FIR lodged with DySP, Gomtipur Police Station)
I, Mohanbhai Banarsidas Bundela (convenor of Jansangharsh Manch) wish to inform you with sorrow that opposite Ambika Mill gate no.1, near Khokhra over-bridge, Gomtipur, about 2,000 troublemakers came and set fire to the Salatnagar hutments (about 260 in number with 1,500 residents), together with all the household things in them on March 1, Friday.
The leaders of this crowd had tied headbands of saffron colour and worn saffron belts with trishuls on them and many of them had swords also. This crowd of troublemakers was assisted by the PSI, ‘D’ staff of Gomtipur, Mr. Modi, in setting fire to the hutments. Mr. Modi stopped his own jeep GJ-1-AR-5342 opposite Ambika Mill No.1 at about 12 o’clock in the afternoon.
From a crowd that was standing in the lane opposite, two-four people came with empty Bisleri bottles and after filling them with petrol/diesel from the PSI’s car, they mingled with the crowd once again. At about 12:30 p.m., they attacked the roofs opposite Ambikanagar, splashed petrol/diesel on them and set fire to them. At that time, some of the poor people of these hutments took their children and ran towards Kalupur station and some ran towards the railway colony.
Before this attack, I myself, Mohanbhai Bundela, had asked for protection from PI of Gomtipur police station continuously for 24 hours. However, no help was given to these poor hutment dwellers from the Gomtipur police station. On (telephone) number 100, several times a complaint was lodged with the control room. In spite of this, no protection was given to the roofs opposite the Ambika Mills and no bandobast was made.
The attackers were from the Amraiwadi police precinct and we called Amraiwadi police station several times and we also complained to PI Patel personally that from your Amraiwadi precinct a big crowd is trying to set fire to the hutments repeatedly. So please make some extensive arrangements. But in spite of our verbal complaint and several complaints on the phone, the responsible people of the police station did not provide protection to the hutment dwellers.
As a result, these hutments were burnt down by more than 200 anti-social elements with the help of the police. And all these hutments of Ambika mills were razed to the ground. And these troublemakers looted the 8-10 huts that were saved from the fire. In addition to these troublemakers, the PSI, ‘D’ staff of Gomtipur, Mr. Modi, gave petrol/diesel in front of our eyes and it appeared that these troublemakers had made some prior arrangements with Mr. Modi. We inform you with regret that not only the police arrested none of the troublemakers.
Mr. Modi knows the troublemakers who harmed the poor people because he himself did not perform his duty but helped them to set fire to the roofs of the poor people and put the police force in to disrepute. So please, sir, arrest these criminals immediately and taking appropriate legal steps, arrest them and put them in jail. Also, make arrangement so that these hutment dwellers get immediate protection in future. I, myself, Mohanbhai Bundela, went to lodge the complaint of the hutment dwellers in Gomtipur police station in the evening of 02-03-2002, but they refused to lodge the complaint that is why we are sending this complaint by Registered AD.
Policemen indicted: PSI Modi (Gomtipur police station), Gomtipur police station, Amraiwadi police station, PI Patel (Amraiwadi police station).
Ramol Khanwadi Relief Camp
There were around 2,500 refugees from the Khokhra Housing Society (200 homes burnt), Soneni Chawl, Janata Nagar, Gafoor Basti (200 homes gutted), Ansar Nagar (200 homes gone), when I visited the camp on March 6.
Until that day, no FIR had been recorded by the police, nothing by way of relief had been received from the collector. Residents of the camp recalled how 12-15 rickshaws had also been burnt on February 28. On March 6, in anticipation of the visit of former prime minister, VP Singh, the collector had sent some dal, some rice and some oil, which arrived in our presence.