March-April  2002 

Naroda Fruit Market, Kabadi Market

Of the 200 wholesale fruit businesses with galas in Naroda Fruit Market, all 17 owned by the Memon community were selectively and completely gutted, money from the safes stolen and all business records destroyed. The agricultural produce committee chairman, Laxman D. told CC that despite repeated calls, the police had not responded. These 17 wholesale businesses were destroyed in broad daylight on February 28, even as the attack on the lives and dignity of the residents of Naroda Patiya was in full swing.

Place: Naroda Fruit Market, Swami Narayan Road, Naroda

(Interviewed at the Naroda Fruit Market on March 8)

Ibrahim Ramanlal is a three-generations-old story of Hindu-Muslim partnership. Ibrahim Ramanlal is a fruit commission agent on the Swami Narayan Chawl Road. This traditional intra-community partnership was not spared by the mobs who had obviously done their research well. The lost incurred was Rs 2.5 lakh. This will not make a difference to us, however. We will make sure that this relationship, which is much more than a business one, as it spans generations, will be rebuilt and flourish.

On March 6, the day this correspondent visited the area, I found the Babanshah Mosque, Swami Narayan Chawl, behind the fruit market reduced to rubble. As we climbed up the broken stones, we saw not just torn pages of the Quran strewn all over the floor; the vandals had even had time to defecate on it.

The framed photograph of a Hindu idol was planted at the very spot where the imam stands to lead the namaaz. There were telltale signs of a puja having been performed at the place. And the slogan "Jai Shri Ram" scrawled in red on the walls were clear evidence of what exactly the hate-mongers had in mind when they held a whole population to ransom.

New Gujarat (National) Kabadi Market Corporation, near Bhulabhai Park, Behrampura, Ahmedabad

Place: The New Gujarat (National) Kabadi Market Corporation, Behrampura, Ahmedabad
Sirajbhai Hanifbhai Qureshi, Kabadi Market

(Interviewed at the Kabadi Market on March 9)

The New Gujarat Kabadi Market Corporation, near Bhulabhai Park, Behrampura, was attacked, vandalised for three full days. The two watchmen on duty were maimed and butchered before being torched. The Kagdapeth police station located nearby just allowed it to happen.

The Mohamadiya Ahle-Hadis Masjid and 225 shops in the Kabadi Market (160 inside and 65 outside) were completely destroyed on February 28 itself. The attack went on for three full days to make sure that the area was destroyed completely.

Two watchmen, Ahmed Mohammed Arab and Yusuf Abdul Gafur Sheikh, were found dead — cut up and charred — just outside the shop of one Harun Yusuf.

Two other watchmen who survived and are eyewitnesses are Gani Bhai Jamal Bhai and Abdul Shakur Abdul Jabbar. They have named Ashok Bhai Sindhi as one of the main accused in leading the attack. The police station under which the Kabadi Market falls, is the Kagdapeth police station, whose policemen were blind to the systematic damage for three days.

We must have made hundreds of calls to them. The total loss to materials is about Rs 4 crore and to the buildings, another Rs 1.5 crore.

Place: The New Gujarat Kabadi Market Corporation, Kabadi Market, Ahmedabad
Secretary, Kabadi Market

(Written memorandum submitted to CC by the secretary, The New Gujarat Kabadi Market Corporation, Kabadi Market Number: 2, Bhulabhai Park, Behrampura, Ahmedabad - 22; to the NHRC):

On February 28, during the communal riots in Ahmedabad, the troublemakers broke down the gates of Kabadi Market, looted and burnt down all the shops, and destroyed the entire Kabadi Market. During the looting and the burning, we called the fire brigade several times but there was no satisfactory response from them, nor was a fire engine sent. In spite of informing the police station, the police, too, remained inactive. What’s more they encouraged the looters and the arsonists.

After all this, two of the watchmen of our market, Ahmedbhai Mohammedbhai Arab and Yusufbhai A. Gafurbhai Shaikh were killed with sharp instruments. The panchnama has since been made and post-mortem carried out in the Civil Hospital.

By this heartless act, our entire Kabadi Market has been destroyed and our place of worship has been burnt, our holy books damaged. The estimated damage to the Kabadi Market is about Rs. 4 crore.

Place: Jamalpur, Ahmedabad
Liaqat Bhai

(Interviewed at the residence of a local at Jamalpur on March 5)

The 100-year-old dargah opposite the Jagannath Mandir has been broken down and for days, Ram Dhun was heard playing there every night. On the night of February 27-28, the elephants that are kept inside the temple premises were made to drink liquor. The screams and yells that followed caused terror in the entire locality. On the night of February 27, ST services were suspended. Why? So that people from the villages could not escape?

During the last election, Haren Pandya, who won from the Paldi area, had openly proclaimed during his campaign, "Baandyo nahin bachwo joyiye" (Not a single baandyo, abusive term for a Muslim/circumcised person must be spared.)

Near the Kanch ki Masjid, there is the shop of one Syed Paanwala, Bashir Bhai. He feeds masala paan to the police because he has no choice. On February 28, his paan ka gala was destroyed. PSI Yadav who stood near the destroyed gala the whole day, asked Bashir Bhai to come to the Haveli police station to register his case.

But once at the police station, he was thrashed by PSI Yadav and PSI Chavda. Both used to eat free paan from him. The worst conduct was at VS hospital. Here, Bharti behn and Anita behn, both BJP corporators (Bharti behn is from Mani Nagar) were actually instructing doctors on which patients to treat and which not to treat. At the VS hospital, treatment was being denied to Muslims when pressure from BJP MLAs and corporators was put on the local administration.

Revenue Minister Haren Pandya was seen by us opposite the VS Hospital setting fire to the Apna Bazaar Medical. "Yeh Miyane Aag Lagaye" ("Let us burn these Muslims"), he was shouting, after he burnt it down himself. The Ellis Bridge Police Station is close by but they did nothing.

The fire brigade was called and they tried desperately to put out the fire. But Haren Pandya, leading the mob, prevented them. An FIR has been launched against Haren Pandya and MLA Ashok Bhatt. Just outside the Ellis police station, Haren Pandya was over heard telling the PI even as Hotel Ellis was aflame: "Aah samaj kayi nathi kartoo" ("This community does nothing".) The PI concerned had a special room permanently booked for him at Hotel Ellis.

Opposite Jamalpur Darwaza, the Jagannath Mandir was under police protection!

The local PI Jadeja fired at Muslims and watched with glee as fireballs (aag ke gole) reduced some 10 jhopadas and 2-3 cabins to ashes near Jamalpur Darwaza. Jadeja then filed an FIR against Muslims claiming that a 2,000 strong mob had attacked. This was reported by Star News and the Gujarat Samachar on its front page. But not one Hindu hut has been burnt in the area. I know because I am an eyewitness.

The dead body of Yusuf bhai Allabux bhai, a night watchman at Kabadi Market, No 2, Behrampura, was found with his legs severed. An FIR has been filed against PI Barot for this murder by the Kabadi Market Association.

Assailants identified: Revenue Minister Haren Pandya, BJP MLA Ashok Bhatt, Bharti behn and Anita behn (both BJP corporators).

Policemen indicted: PSI Yadav and PSI Chavda, PI Jadeja, PI Barot.

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