March-April  2002 

Violence unending

The period between mid-March and April 16, when we go to press, saw continued violence in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat. More and more instances of indiscriminate police firing have been reported where victims are mainly, the minority. It is imperative that the Gujarat police regularly makes available statistics to members of the public. This is one way there will be accountability.

Large mobs still assemble and the police watches them. Nothing short of a complete hand-over of law and order to the armed forces, after Presidentís Rule is declared for an extended period, can stem the tide in Gujarat. We are otherwise likely to see an even further deterioration of security conditions in that state.

16 April 2002: Large parts of Ahmedabad still remained under curfew. It is unheard of that 48 days after communal incidents, this level of violence and terror stalk a region.

15 April 2002: Two persons were shot dead by the police at Dariapur on Sunday evening. The police of the Dariapur Police Station assisted a mob pelting stones at minority pockets in the area. A local resident, Ayub Khan Pathan, had his head blown off when he simply stepped out to take a snapshot and get photographic evidence of police misdemeanours. The violence continued on the morning of April 15 between Delhi Darwaza and Shahibag (where incidentally the Commissioner of Policeís headquarters are located) and the targets were Ė Kanikhad Muslim Mohalla (where 80 households live) and Sajjan Jamadar Mohalla (where 200-250 families live).

Two terror attacks, by mobs of 15-20 and 100-200 respectively, on std VIII and IX standard students belonging to the minority community, giving examinations in two separate examination centres at Delhi Darwaza on April 15..(see Section on State Complicity) This writer spoke to three students from schools Jyot Kanya Vidyalaya and KG Desai High School, who gave her this testimony. There are at least 15 other witnesses to the same incident. The names of the students have been withheld to protect their identity.

Witness One: "My school is the Jyot Kanya Vidyalaya. I was giving my Std IX terminal examination in a room on the ground floor of the building around 10.30 a.m. Suddenly we heard shouts from outside. We asked our teacher, ĎWhat is the noise?" "Kuchh nahin," said the teacher. Suddenly, a group of 10-15 persons stormed into the school grounds and stood in the compound, just outside the class. We were terrified. "Maro, kato;" "Mussalmanon ko nikalon;" " Idhar aa jaao," (pointing to Hindu areas), were the cries we heard. We turned to our teacher who did nothing. Then she said, "you better go." We started running frantically."

Witness: Two: "I was giving my class VIII terminal examination on the ground floor but in another class at the far end of the corridor at the Jyot Kanya Vidyalaya. Suddenly we heard ominous shouts. I turned to the Sir who was the supervisor. "What is the noise, Sir?" "Looks like a fight. You better not go anywhere," he said. (The girl was stammering with fright as she recounted the frightening incident.) Suddenly the shouts grew louder. We just ran out of our class and the school. Six to seven of us ran towards the Kanichad mohalla where residents had blocked the entrance for fear of attacks from Hindus. We were banging on the blockade frantically. They would not open. We were screaming, in tears, "We are Muslims, we are Muslims, please save....... We are so frightened."

Witness Three: "I am studying in the Std IX class at the KG Desai High school between Delhi Darwaza and Shahpur Darwaza. After the examinations when three of us were trying to leave the school to go home a lamba tola (huge mob) came running towards the school. We turned to the Principalís room and the Principal, Ramanbhai Patel for help. He simply pushed us away. It was the Hindus from the back who had attacked us. Luckily, we were finally saved by an old lady, a Muslim lady. I just cannot think of going back to school and giving my examinations tomorrow."

5 April 2002: In a shocking incident, which showed how Modiís armed men still roam the streets, a convoy of five vehicles carrying families from Chota Udaipur to Vadodara under police escort was attacked by a mob en route, which set all the vehicles on fire. At least three persons received serious burn injuries and a policeman, who was attacked with sharp weapons, was also grievously hurt. The families, who were stuck in an unsafe area for the past six days, were being shifted to Vadodara by the police in three trucks, a tempo and a rickshaw.

4 April 2002: Umreth, Anand district: Two persons were killed and two injured in police firing in Umreth town of Anand district, where rioting mobs burnt down about 10 shops. Police fired 20 rounds and imposed indefinite curfew in the afternoon. Kutch, which had been peaceful so far, also witnessed violence on Tuesday. Indefinite curfew was clamped in Anjar after mobs damaged three places of worship.

3 April 2002: Police, under PI SD Sharma, in the presence of Mr Parmar of the Ahmedabad Collectorate, led a violent attack on the 750 refugees of the Suleiman Roza Relief Camp (behind Nutan Mills), Saraspur and actually shot two persons, Pirujbhai Mohammad Sheikh(30) and Khatoonbi Sharfuddin Saiyed (45). The camp, which has been home to 750 displaced persons over the past 40 days, was thus forcibly wound up.

29 innocents were shot at by the RAF and SRP forces on April 3. One innocent, Advocate Nizam was shot dead by the police inside his home on April 3. On the same day, on the eve of the PMís visit, Dr Ishaq Sheikh, Vice President of the Al Ameen Garib Niwas Hospital, was pulled out of his ambulance by the Ahmedabad police, SRP and RAF personnel and brutally beaten up. Police Inspectors Modi and Parmar were present while this happened and did nothing to stop the assault. The second person shot dead in police firing hails from Sakhar Ghanchi ki chawl ó (Mohammad Yunus Akbarbhai). The Policemen named by eyewitnesses are NA Modi (PSI D Staff), NR Jadhav, senior Police Inspector and Mr Sawani, DCP.

3 April 2002: Abasana, Ahmedabad: Late on the night of April 3, five members of a Muslim family were burnt to death at Abasana village, 70 km. from here. Three houses were burnt down and five members of the same family, including a baby girl, were hacked to death and then set ablaze by an unruly mob of around 15-20 persons at about 12.30 am. The Kadih police reached the spot at 2.30 am. On the evening of April 3, in another incident, in broad daylight and in the heart of this city, 34-year-old Muhammad Riyaz Qureshi was hacked to death near the Shahpur police post, apparently because he was married to a Hindu. There is heavy police deployment in the area but the policemen saw nothing, heard nothing and did nothing.

2 April 2002: In one week, mobs set fire to over 50 Ahmedabad houses whose residents wait in relief camps. The police in the city of Ahmedabad just did not stop them. They say that fire spreads too fast and that they are short of staff.

Fifty houses were set on fire at Behrampura in the Dani Limda area; they had been vacated by fleeing residents on February 28. About 500 yards away are the Behrampura police outpost and an additional police picket but that didnít help much when the mob got to work. Homes in Rajpur, Gomtipur, Ramol, Syedwadi, Vatwa and Madhavpura were gutted. A mob set on fire at least eight houses at Adundara village near Kadih in Mehsana district even as curfew continued in Kadih town. A mob of not less than 10-15,000 attacked homes at Vejalpur and Johapura. Police fired about 31 rounds and 156 tear gas shells in the area on Sunday night to control the situation.

Three persons were killed in police firing all over Gujarat. At least one person was killed in Cambay and Petlad towns in Kaira district in police firing and one was stabbed to death in Kadih town in Mehsana district as violence re-erupted in the curfew-bound towns late at night. At least three persons were killed in Cambay and Petlad in police firing earlier in the day to control mob violence.

Disturbances spread to newer areas such as Narsanda, Boriyavi, Chaklasi and other small towns and villages in central and north Gujarat where mobs set fire to houses and shops belonging to a minority community and tried to damage some places of worship.

31 March 2002: About 60 houses in two chawls on Dani Limda Road in Behrampura were gutted following arson resorted to by residents of Pathani Ni Chali and Ghasiram Chali after a minor incident of stone-throwing between two groups on Sunday afternoon.

30 March 2002: A 25,000 strong mob gathered at CTM Amraiwadi at the junction of Vatwa and Jantanagar Ramol and Ansaribagh and tried to attack Gomtipur, Jhumli Chawl, Najor Road, Vora Chal and Sukhram Road. For residents, the terror continued late into the night.

29 March 2002: Two Kashmiris were allegedly burnt alive by rioters during communal clashes at Ahmedabad in Gujarat. They have been identified as Sareer Ahmad of Gohan-Kokernag and Isfaq Ahmad of Vesu-Qazigund. Reports said the former was a truck driver while the latter a cleaner. They were on their way from Kashmir to Ahmedabad in their vehicle, loaded with Kashmiri apples. As the truck entered Ahmedabad, a mob stopped it. When the miscreants discovered that the driver and the cleaner were Kashmiris, they severely thrashed the duo. Their truck was set ablaze and subsequently the two were burnt alive.

29 March 2002: The 200 residents at the Kadih Relief camp near Kalol were attacked by a large mob at midnight.

26 March 2002: Even one month after the Godhra carnage, things have not returned to normal in the city. Every day, violence breaks out in new areas. While there was trouble in Khadia and Ramol areas on Tuesday, two incidents of stabbing were reported from Ranip and Shaherkotda areas on March 26.

24 March 2002: A 30-year-old woman was stripped in public and stabbed to death in the Vejalpur area of Ahmedabad on Sunday as violence continued unabated in Gujarat. Fresh violence has erupted in Bhavnagar, Jambusar (Bharuch district) and Prantij (Sabarkantha district) towns and indefinite curfew has been imposed there 30-year-old Mumtazbano, whose maiden name was Geeta before she married a Muslim, was stopped by miscreants at Vejalpur when she was going out with her husband on a scooter. She was stripped and stabbed to death. Her husband has been admitted to the VS Hospital with serious knife injuries.

24 March 2002: An 18-year-old student, who was on his way to write his HSC examination, was stabbed by two unidentified assailants on Wednesday afternoon, leading to tension in the communally sensitive Dhoraji area.The student, Ashok Lakhabhai Ahir, was first taken to Junagadh and was shifted to Rajkot on Thursday. Doctors said his condition was serious.

24 March 2002: The Revdi Bazaar in Panchkuva area of Ahmedabad was transformed into a raging inferno when manic rioters set shops afire. The market place, which houses wholesale cloth shops, soon erupted into flames which took the Ahmedabad Fire Brigade more than five hours to control. Though no casualties were reported, the damage, say local shopkeepers, could well cross Rs 15 crore.

22 March 2002: At least four persons were killed, three of them in Vadodara, as violence flared up in the central Gujarat city where curfew was again imposed in six police station areas. In Ahmedabad, one person was killed and three others injured in stabbing incidents in the Kagdapith and Gomtipur areas while incidents of violence and arson were reported from some areas of north Gujarat. A 35-year-old man, reportedly a tailor, was found with his throat slit near the Lal Akhada in the Fatehpura area of Vadodara. The second case of stabbing was reported in the Dandia Bazar area of the city. The person, who ran an English class at Apsara Apartments, was attacked at his office in the afternoon. In Ahmedabad, Ghanibhai, who cooked food for the 7,000 residents of the Shah Alam Relief Camp, was brutally killed by youth from just outside the ghetto area, where he had gone to buy a basket used to clean rice.

21 March 2002: Six persons were killed in renewed violence in Ahmedabad. Five persons were killed in police firing at Kalupur, (Usman Ghani Memon, Arif Mansoori, Fakir Aakha Ali Shaikh, Mohammad Aslam, Mani), while one person was stabbed to death in sporadic incidents of violence in the Dariapur, Karanj and Shahpur areas.

At Himmatnagar town, one shop was set ablaze in the Motipura area when curfew was relaxed for women and children between noon and 6 p.m. Vatwa continued to remain under the grip of tension after the arson at Nava Chunaravas on Wednesday, when two persons were killed in police firing.

19 March 2002: At least two people have been killed in police firing in the Vatwa area of Ahmedabad on Wednesday afternoon and indefinite curfew has been clamped in Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha district.Mobs went on the rampage in Vatwa, torching several hutments and cabins by firing petrol bombs before the police moved in and restored order. Violence spread in Himmatnagar town in Sabarkantha district, after the disappearance of a boy sparked violence.

18 March 2002: Four persons, including two belonging to the minority community, were killed when police opened fire to disperse mobs in Bharuch and Sabarkantha districts as fresh bouts of communal violence hit parts of Gujarat, police sources said. Two persons were killed and as many seriously injured when police fired on a stone-pelting mob in the sensitive Undai-Hajikhana locality of Bharuch, which has been rocked by a fresh spell of violence since yesterday. With this, the death toll in the latest spell of violence in the town, went up to four. Two persons were stabbed to death yesterday.

17 March 2002: Even 17 days after the Godhra carnage, Ahmedabad has not calmed down. Incidents of arson, rioting and loot were reported from the Dani Limda and Dudheshwar areas. One person died in police firing while three others, including a Home Guard of State Civil Defence, sustained serious stab wounds in Dani Limda. Around 2 pm, a 1,000-strong mob went on the rampage and set fire to two textile-dye manufacturing units in Dani Limda. Prior to this, the mob also damaged three shops and set ablaze four vehicles.

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