Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat
Incidents of Post-Godhra violence
This is probably the first carnage to have been unleashed after the Godhra tragedy, after the corpses of the burnt bodies had been taken from Godhra to the Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. The attack on Gulberg society, which was home to Ahsan Jafri, former trade unionist and MP of the Congress party, was launched with military precision 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 itself gives a detailed account of the utter failure of the police to put off the assailants or protect the trapped residents. The FIR admits that the arson and destruction began from that morning itself. The Tribunal recorded detailed testimonies of all the eye-witnesses to the Gulberg society carnage, including a Parsi, who was with Ahsan Jafri until the end, when, at around 2.30 p.m., he surrendered himself to the mob in a desperate attempt to save the persons who had sought shelter in his home from nearby chawls. One of the most shocking aspects of the Gulberg society carnage, to which two eyewitnesses and two others testified, is the fact that the commissioner of police, Ahmedabad, PC Pandey, visited Ahsan Jafri at 10.30 a.m. that day, and assured him of police reinforcements. The CP stands directly indicted because he did not keep his promise of sending police help. The few men who were deputed from the Meghani Nagar chowki, merely watched as 70 persons were butchered and burnt in a macabre dance of death. 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. Ten to twelve gas cylinders were exploded that day and used as arsenal in the attack. Members of the Tribunal visited the site on May 3, 2002. We found hundreds of little glass bottles containing a whitish powder scattered all round. This was used to heighten the impact and intensity of the fire and ensured that the bodies were burnt to ashes.
According to eyewitness accounts as well as the full list of dead and missing persons attached to the FIR, about 70 persons have died — 49 from the society, and 18-20 from outside, who had come to seek shelter at Jafri’s home. This is not the figure mentioned officially. (The official figure released is 59.) Evidence of one Manoj Kumar, a Hindu neighbour, has also been placed before the Tribunal. He testified to the fact that the attackers pulled the babies out with the men, then poured petrol over them and burnt them. The police merely stood back and watched. When questioned about this gross dereliction of duty, commissioner PC Pandey shrugged and said: "We were outnumbered."(The Times of India, March 2, 2002.)
At about 10.30 a.m., police commissioner Pandey, with Ambalal Nadia, the Congress mahamantri, Ward No. 19, and Kannulal Solanki from Ward No. 20, visited Jafri and gave him a personal assurance that they would send reinforcements and that he would be fully protected. Within five minutes of the CP’s departure, at 10.35 a.m., the Zahir Bakery and an autorickshaw just outside Gulberg society were burnt. The stoning of Gulberg society began around 11.15-11.30 a.m. Forty-five minutes later, at about 12.15-12.30 p.m., stones, acid bulbs, bottles and petrol bombs were thrown at Gulberg society from the rear side of the complex of buildings and bungalows. From the terrace of an adjacent bungalow belonging to a non-Muslim, between 12.30 and 12.45 p.m., there was heavy stone throwing, including big boulders. This caused the biggest damage, because, without this frontal attack using premises from within the residential colony itself, the residents might have been able to protect themselves. The volley of huge stones, along with acid bulbs and burning cloth balls, continued until 1-1.15 p.m. Around 1 p.m., one Yusuf, a resident of the society, was caught, cut up and torched. Fear amongst the residents had mounted. By this time there were nearly 80 persons in Jafri’s house. Amid shouts of "Ghusijao" ("Get in!"), between 2.30-2.45 p.m., suddenly the gate at the rear end of the Society, near the railway tracks, was broken down. Between 2.30-2.45 p.m., Ahsan Jafri, who was clearly a specific target, allowed himself to be dragged out of his own house. There, just outside the home that he had so painfully created, for 45 minutes, he was brutally dismembered and then finally decapitated. He was stripped, paraded naked, and asked to say, "Vande Mataram!" and "Jai Shri Ram!" He refused. His fingers were chopped off and he was paraded around in the locality, badly injured. Next, his hands and feet were chopped off. He was then dragged, a fork-like instrument clutching his neck, down the road, before being thrown into the fire. A man who had devoted his life to public service, had met a brutal end. In this attack, Jafri was killed along with his three brothers and two nephews.
At this time, 2.45 p.m., Anwar, another resident, was also killed. The main accused (whose names appear later) brought in logs from the nearby Sansar Bakery and began, ominously, to prepare four funeral pyres. Anwar was killed and then cut up into pieces and burnt. There was a relentless barrage of stoning, throwing of fireballs and frontal attacks on Jafri’s house in particular. This was confirmed by many eyewitnesses to the tragic carnage, all of whom deposed before the Tribunal.
After this, Shafi Mohammed Munawar Sheikh was also cut into three pieces, and burnt alive. It was between 3.30-4.30 p.m. that 10-12 women were first raped, then cut into pieces with guptis, and then thrown into the fire. The police finally arrived between 4.30-5.00 p.m. At 5.20 p.m., the police party which was trying to rescue the people, was stoned. Finally, at around 7 p.m., the survivors were taken out of the area under police escort.
One of the eyewitnesses who was with Jafri until the end, a Parsi woman whose 12-year-old son is one of those who has been missing since that day, gave the Tribunal an elaborate testimony. This witness contacted an influential relative, a legal luminary, for help and the latter rushed to meet the police commissioner in person. The CP the telephoned the witness. He asked her, "How many from your family are trapped there?" "Three, Sir," she replied, implying that there were only three Parsis trapped there – she, her daughter and son - since her husband was at the Meghani Nagar police station. She then saw the other victims around her, quickly recovered herself and said, "No there are 40 persons here." He then took the address but the help, when it came, was too late.
This witness was in her verandah, in the same building as Jafri, when about 6-7 persons came to the neighbourhood to close down everything because of the bandh. A boy who was standing opposite had closed his shop, but they ran to beat him up. He was shouting for help, and there were 6-7 policemen also standing there, who were watching, but did not help. When his brother came to help him, they started beating him up as well. Then the first boy ran inside, to be followed by a boy with a knife. She could see them because they were in the society, but she could not see what happened to the other boy.
This witness saw Jafri go out to meet CP Pandey at 10.30 a.m. Jafri returned after a few minutes, apparently reassured that forces would be sent soon. He told others that he had told the CP that if they could not send forces they should escort the Gulberg society residents out. Children from the different homes in Gulberg society were taking their morning tuition classes when, in panic, parents had to summon them back home. The attackers first torched all the vehicles outside.
The mobs were shouting "Jai Sri Ram!" and "Kill! Slaughter! This is what they did to us in Godhra. We will do the same to them here!" Eyewitnesses who deposed before the Tribunal saw that they used gas cylinders from the abandoned homes as ammunition for the attacks. Chemicals were sprayed into the room, then gas cylinders thrown in after removing the seals. With fireballs providing the spark, the gas cylinders exploded like bombs. The blast was so powerful that it made the plaster peel off walls, so much so that the structural steel rods were exposed. The attackers were pulling out the girls and killing anyone who came out of Jafri’s home, either with swords or by pouring kerosene over them and torching them.
By 11 a.m., women had collected in Jafri’s flat, bringing their valuables, fearing the worst. Witnesses also saw the mob throwing something that would fall near their houses and then burst into flames.
Despite the CP’s visit to Gulberg society, the police did not come. Jafri kept looking outside with apprehension while he made calls to all the influential people listed in his diary. He made numerous calls including calls to Congressman Amarsingh Chaudhry, the commissioner, and the local police station.
By then, the mob had started breaking windows. They threw burning tyres inside and the women inside would catch them and throw them out. In fact the witness’ hands were singed. There was no water in the house because it had all been consumed and the water from the tanks below had been leaked out by the mob. Inside, the people did all they could to save themselves in those terrible two hours. They ripped off carpets so that they did not catch fire.
At about 2-2.30 p.m., the phone was disconnected. By then Jafri had begun pleading with the mob for forgiveness—he was speaking in Gujarati—and telling them to let them go. He said that all the residents of Gulberg would leave without any belongings, only their lives. They said, "You burnt our parents, our sisters, so we will not spare you." The Parsi lady even said, "I am a Parsi – we are neither Hindus nor Muslims," to which they replied, "We know no Parsis or anything else." They were in such a murderous mood at the time. They had been burning the kitchens in all the houses first. At about 3 p.m., they even poured petrol over this witness and her 11-year-old daughter. They had brought petrol in plastic bags and they threw the bags at them so they were soaked with petrol. By this time only one room of Jafri’s home was not on fire but the rest were full of smoke. Many persons collapsed due to asphyxiation. There were bodies of women and children everywhere. Many died choking from the smoke. Only the strong and the lucky could survive. The police arrived at about 4.30 p.m. When the victim-survivors were escorted out by the police, the mob stoned the van. That is when PI Pathan gave orders to shoot into the crowd rather than in the air. If he had not fired, and dispersed the crowd somewhat, even the rest would have died. Even when they got into the van, the victim-survivors had only the driver with them; there were no other policemen.
There are 21 eyewitnesses to the entire case who have been consistent in their depositions before other human rights and fact-finding teams. Each of these have lost from 1-7 family members in the brutal violence. The Tribunal benefited from the detailed records of this incident, the FIRs etc., published in Communalism Combat’s ‘Genocide – Gujarat 2002’ issue. The accused, who have been identified by eyewitnesses to have launched the first attack, are: Girish Prabhudaas Sharma, Bharat Rajput, Kapilkumar Munna. Bharat Rajput stabbed Ayyub.
Several eyewitnesses saw the CP arriving and talking to Jafri. "He said to Jafri, ‘We are making all arrangements for you and sending additional police force – you don’t worry." Jafri sa’ab told Pandey sa’ab, ‘If you cannot make arrangements for us and if you don’t have enough men, then arrange for us to go away from here – just let us know."’
Within minutes of the commissioner’s car leaving from one side, a mob appeared from the other and started throwing stones. From the Asarwa side, the ex-corporator and BJP worker, Chunilal Prajapati, was leading the mob, swearing at Muslims and shouting, "Kill! Slaughter! See what they did in Godhra. They killed our Hindus so now kill them all, destroy their society." From the Om Nagar side, ex-Congress municipal councillor, Meghsingh Dubsingh, was leading the mob, which also started throwing stones. Jafri had opposed Dubsingh’s receiving a ticket in the last elections. Muslims from the surrounding chawls also came into the society for protection. There is a railway line behind Gulberg society, and from that side, where there are servants’ quarters, a mob of about 5-6,000 came. They were led by Jagrup Singh Rajput, who was deputy mayor of Ahmedabad when the BJP held a majority in the municipality. Stone throwing started from the back as well. Thus, from all four sides of Gulberg society, stone throwing was going on.
In his desperation, Jafri made over 200 calls that day. He called PC Pandey, Amarsingh Chaudhry in Gandhinagar, Naresh Rawal, and even the chief minister and the home minister. According to a witness, "At about 2:30 p.m., Jafri sa’ab, who was standing at his door with folded hands, was pulled out by four men. The four who pulled him out were: Narayan Kabra, a cable operator in Chamanpura, Ramesh Choti, a ‘Bhaiyaji’, Manish Jain, son of the owner of Rajasthan grocery store, and Krishna, son of Champaben. (Eyewitnesses have also recorded these names in the statements made during police investigations.) As they were pulling him out, they were slashing him with a sword and they cut him up into three pieces. After burning Jafri sa’ab, the people who had come in started burning tyres, etc. They broke all the doors of Jafri sa’ab’s house and torched it from all sides. There were 35 children and everyone was begging with folded hands but they could not go out. By about 3.15 p.m., Jafri’s house had filled with smoke and all persons trapped inside for their safety were finding it difficult to breathe."
Some women from inside were lured out on the pretext that they would be kept safe. Eyewitnesses who testified before the Tribunal saw Dinesh Prabhudas Sharma, who was carrying a sword, killing Yusuf. It was Lathia who tore the clothes off the niece of one eyewitness, raped her and then killed her. Lala Mohansingh Darbar, who was also involved in the incidents of torching earlier, killed another woman.
At around 4:45 p.m., an eyewitness who had hidden himself in a cabin at the back of the small garden, heard shouts of "Run, run!" and guessed that the police had come. This eyewitness asked ACP Tandon to rescue some of the persons suffering from asphyxiation who were trapped inside Jafri’s home, but he was reluctant to do anything. The attack had been planned with such meticulousness that even the water from the tanks in Jafri’s house and garden as well as those in neighbouring houses had been emptied so that the fires could not be put out. Despite the fact that the fire was spreading, the ACP did not intervene to save lives. It was half an hour after the police arrived, at about 5:15 p.m., when the gas cylinders inside Jafri’s house burst. Those who remained trapped and could not escape, died. There were 30-35 women and children who were thus burnt to ashes. The blatant complicity of the Gujarat state and its police in the Gulberg society carnage cannot be understated. The CM, the home minister, the CP, were all called by Jafri himself. The attack lasted for seven hours before Jafri gave himself up to the killers. For five hours it was brutal and intense. Gulberg society, Chamanpura, is in the heart of Ahmedabad city, not in a far-flung area of the state. The extent of the macabre delight that perpetrators took in the crimes committed was evident in what some residents saw on the evening of February 28. When some witnesses returned to the area later that evening, they saw neighbourhood goons ‘playing cricket’ with the skulls of the dead. That such a massacre could take place in broad daylight, and lasting several hours, after innumerable attempts and pleas, desperate pleas, for help had been made, is a pathetic and chilling reflection on the quality of governance in Gujarat under CM Modi. A strong case of personal vendetta by Modi, against Jafri was made out by these witnesses, while CP Pandey stands individually indicted because he failed to send in reinforcements, either of his own choice or on orders from above, although he knew how bad the situation was when he visited Gulberg society at 10.30 a.m. that day.
The first house in Gulberg society compound belongs to Dayaram Mochi . Two of his sons are in the police force and one is a teacher. He used to have a single-storey house, but over the past 7 years, after his sons joined the police, he added two more floors. From his terrace, one has a view of the entire society. When the stones were being thrown, he informed the mob that there were only a few people in the society, so they shouldn’t be afraid and just rush in. It was from his house that people were pelting stones. The victim-survivors felt that it was because access to this house was allowed that the attack became easy and possible.
The Tribunal met Dayaram Mochi and his wife, who claimed that their house was also looted – and that all the looting was done by people whose only work is looting, and who know no religion. This witness and his wife said that they had good relations with other residents of Gulberg society over the last 12 years. The mob came around 9 a.m. and surrounded the whole society. Since they were also scared they went to the nearby school and sat down quietly. They said that after that they didn’t know what happened. These witnesses said that the mob knew that the Mochis were Hindus and so, although their house was looted, they were not physically assaulted. Mochi said that once the huge mob had breached the wall, that there was no way that they could have stopped the mob from going up to their terrace. They saw that the building was deserted so they rushed in. He said that if he had tried to stop them, he too would have been beaten up. The Mochis did not recognise anyone. Two of the Mochi sons who are in the police were both on duty at the time, one in Daryapur and the other in Shahibag. One is a driver and the other a constable. The third one had gone out to give tuitions.
Mochi’s wife said that only the couple and their three daughters-in-law were at home. Their grandchildren were taking tuitions at the home of a Gulberg resident (who also deposed before the Tribunal), and they ran to get the children back when the mob arrived since they were among the first to see them. The police took chairs from the Mochis’ house. There were only 4-5 policemen although the mob was huge. The police mobile vans came much later. The whole thing started around 9:30 a.m., but it became really bad after 12 o’clock. The Mochis fled to the school across the road at 9.30 a.m. Thereafter, they saw only smoke and nothing else. It seems clear that they were allowed to escape with their lives because they were not Muslim.
Another eyewitness who is a close associate of Jafri denied the story widely-circulated by the CM and the police: that Jafri had fired at the crowd. This witness was clear that in this attack, Gulberg society was the singular target. He said that in earlier riots (1969), too, Gulberg society had been attacked but then there was trouble elsewhere in Chamanpura, neighbouring Asarva and Chakla. This time they came directly to Gulberg and zeroed in on this society. It appears clear that Gulberg was the focus of a pre-meditated plan and attack. Some eyewitnesses also spoke of a clear personal vendetta that CM Modi had against Jafri, which is why Jafri was specifically targeted and his death, the manner of killing, etc., was carefully planned and carried out. The witness had accompanied Jafri to Rajkot, where the CM was contesting a by-election, only a few days before the Godhra tragedy. This witness clearly felt that the CM’s personal revenge and vendetta against Jafri found expression in the gruesome carnage that devastated all of Gulberg society. Jafri campaigned against Modi. In a public meeting in Rajkot, he had urged people not to vote for him because he was an RSS man, and to vote for the Congress instead. The election took place on February 23, 2002.
On February 28, just five days after the election, when the premeditated attack was launched, Jafri made as many as 200 calls to various people, desperately seeking help. Among others, he also called the CM Modi, home minister Gordhan Zadaphiya and union home minister LK Advani, the witness said. Jafri had even sent a fax to Sonia Gandhi in Delhi. In Ahmedabad, he called the mayor Himmatsinh Patel, and Badruddin Shaikh (chairman, standing committee of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation). When Jafri called CM Modi, he received a callous response. It was after the chilling nonchalance of Modi’s response to his plea for help that Jafri lost all hope and gave himself up to be killed, the witness added.
The Tribunal also recorded testimonies of victim-survivors from Dhoopsinh ni Chali, Janakbehn ni Chali, Chandulal Chali and Santookbehn ni Chali. These are lower middle class tenements, from where 70 residents had fled to Gulberg society, to Jafri’s home for support, thinking that they would be safe there as they had been in the past. During earlier bouts of violence in Ahmedabad, Jafri was able to protect them. But not this time. When the Tribunal recorded their testimonies, these persons were living in various camps in Ahmedabad. It is shocking that months after the tragedy there are still so many persons missing, and that there has been no proper computation of the dead by the state. It reflects the attitude of the Gujarat government to the tremendous loss of life, faith and dignity that was the Gujarat carnage.
On the day of the Tribunal’s site visit to Gulberg society, May 3, the entire society was still in a terrible condition. Homes had been completely destroyed, the beams and iron rods and fans in houses were twisted, bent out of shape. Though there are Hindus who live in the Bhagwatinagar society opposite, these persons were not involved in the attack.
In the same attack, shops and showrooms on one side of the society, opening onto the road, were also looted and destroyed. A printing press and a small factory nearby, belonging to Muslims, met the same fate.
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 February 28, the violence continued from 10.30 a.m.- 6 p.m. A complaint was filed at 8.45 p.m. on the same day. The sections applied in the FIR are: sections 143, 141, 148, 149, 302, 332, 323, 336, 337, 435, 436, 427, 186, 188, 120(b) of the IPC, section 1 of the Bombay Police Act and sections 25(1) (a) and (b) of the Arms Act. All relevant sections have been applied, except section 376 (rape). Eighteen persons from the vilolent mob were injured in police firing. However, this has not been recorded by the police. On March 2, a new section was added. In the first FIR (number 61/2002) that was filed, crimes under sections 395, 396, 397 (loot) of the IPC were also added. Then, on March 12, some more sections were added: 398, 295(a), 153(a)(1), 153(a)(2)(b), and 188 of the IPC and section 37(1) of the Bombay Police Act.
The first FIR filed by KG Erda, senior inspector, police station no. 4/5/200 reads, "On the day VHP had organised a Gujarat bandh 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 armed assembly, the maal-milkat (property and earnings) of Muslims was burnt with kerosene, 18 Muslims were cut up in pieces 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 his second FIR 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 two police inspectors, six sub-inspectors, 55 head constables, 62 police constables; as for women police, there was one police inspector, one sub-inspector, six head constables, six and three police constables were on duty. On the patrol there was one police inspector, 5 head constables, 34 police constables and one woman constable.
"On February 27, when VHP kar sevaks were martyred, the whole state was tense and since then special bandobast was undertaken at different points in the city. At 7 a.m. on February 28, 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, 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 February 28, 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, Chakla 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 public announcement system 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 issued warnings, we even lathi-charged but the crowd was "possessed" and shouting, ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ At this stage, four tear gas 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 uprooted the railway tracks. 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 two were there. One person, Dinesh, died as a result of police firing. By this time women and men from the Gulberg society were lying dead. Gulberg society contains 19 blocks and 8 buildings. Women and children were hiding themselves on the loftsto save their lives. 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 its most controversial decisions, the Modi government handed over investigation to PN Barot, assistant police commissioner, a man with connections to the VHP. It later transferred the case to someone else. In the chargesheet filed, the names of the main accused have not been mentioned.
List of 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. Belongs to the Bajrang Dal.Supplied trishuls and petrol.
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 works behind Dr. Sultan’s Dispensary, Chamanpura and lives behind Ramji Mandir.
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; Ramchandra colony, Takri, Chamanpura.
12) Poona Sinh Rajput (40-42): works in Arvind Mills: Opp. Gheewali Chawl, above Ramlal Uttamchand, Chamanpura. A Congress (I) activist. He was seen with a knife in hand.
13) Manish Prabhudas Jain (25): Owner Raja Kirana Store, Dr. Gandhi Chali, Chamanpura.
14) Dharmesh (20): Son of Ram Achal Pathak, involved in illegal liquor business, Chandulal Chali, Chamanpura.
15) Gabbar: Son of Mandan Jhingar (Thin and short, he has an uncle, in the police whose name is Ashok Jhingar); Makes chappals; 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, Mohanlal Wadi, Chamanpura. Was seen inciting the mob.
17) Mehsingh Dudhsinh Chaudhary (45): Advocate and ex-municipal corporator, Congress: (Jafri, a senior member of the party, had chosen not to give him a ticket in the recent elections); Chamanpura.
18) Jagrup Sinh Rajput (48); Advocate and ex-deputy mayor of Ahmedabad: Navi Chali, Om Nagar Road, Chamanpura.
19) Dayaram Mochi and Ashok alias Jhingar: Bungalow No. 1, Gulberg society, Chamanpura. Mochi allowed his home to be used as a place of attack.
20) Mangelal Jain (32): Owner, Adhinath Kirana Store, Opposite Chamanpura Pumping Station. He led the attack on Jafri’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): (He is 5 feet 5 inches tall. Has long hair which is red in colour.); Block 55, Talati Nagar.
He was responsible for the rapes.
24) Girish Alias Kalia (25); Lives near Rohidas bus stop.
25) Dhobi Kailash: Living at Gopal Nagar (They said he is dark complexioned, was carrying a mobile phone, was wearing an earring). He was seen by many persons with a talwar.
(Madan Mochi’s son, Gabbar was also seen.)
* Reproduced from Communalism Combat Genocide Gujarat 2002, March-April 2002.
Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya
About 15 kms from Ahmedabad city, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya have been home to around 1,000 daily wage earning Muslims. Many of the residents here are migrants from Karnataka and Maharashtra. The area lies on a stretch of the outer city, situated along a deserted highway road. The Gopinath and Gangotri housing societies situated nearby are home, the survivors allege, to many of the attackers. The government’s ST warehouse is located across the wide road.
Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon have a long history of VHP provocation. Police sources revealed to expert witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal, that in 1999 a dargah was broken down and an idol installed in its place. At the time, the local police repaired the dargah and arrested 10-15 persons, including Dr. Jaideep Patel, Maya Kotdani and Amrish Pandey. Pressure was mounted on the police by the then home minister, Haren Pandya, but the police stood their ground and the law-breakers were forced to back down.
However, things were different this time round in Naroda. In fact, the attack by rioters on Naroda Patiya, and thereafter on Naroda gaon nearby--a settlement of about 1,000 Muslims--left the entire area completely destroyed and devastated.
According to several dozen survivor witnesses, who until August 23, 2002 were living in many different relief camps across Ahmedabad city, the first attack on Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon began at 9 a.m. on the morning of February 28, the day the Gujarat bandh had been declared by the VHP and Bajrang Dal, supported by the government in power. That morning, a large mob of 5,000 to 10,000 people dressed in half-pants (khaki chaddies) and saffron vests (banians) with black bandannas tied around their heads, set upon the hapless minority residents of the area. They were armed with spears, swords, acid bombs and petrol bombs. They used gas cylinders for their work. The assaulters were mixing petrol with some solvent. According to the evidence gathered, diesel and petrol used was from the ST warehouse, too.
They first attacked the Noorani Masjid in the area and began to burn it with the help of LPG cylinders, tyres, petrol and kerosene. In self-defence, Naroda residents resorted to stone throwing. The police then fired at the community under attack. Four persons were killed and two injured in the police firing. It was around 10-10.30 a.m. that the minaret of the Noorani Masjid was destroyed. During the first attack, the family of Shabir Ahmed Khushid Ahmed and Mehmood Ahmed Khushid Ahmed were burnt alive. The mobs were attacking Hussain Nagar and Jawaharlal Nagar in Naroda.
One of the elderly witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal testified that after the first attack on the Mosque, when the persons attacked were running towards safety into their homes, the assailants overtook them and burnt 2-3 people. One of the first to be so burnt was a physically handicapped youth. He was a Madrasi Muslim lad from Hajira, about 20-25 years old. They put him in a small paan-kiosk/shop [paan ka galla] put petrol on him and burnt him. The victim-survivors ran into their homes and remained there till around 3 p.m. By this time the attack had intensified and, instead of using a single bullet at the leaders of the assault at Naroda, the police was firing at the victims. It was between 5 and 6 p.m., when the mob was at the height of its frenzy, that many women and girls of Naroda Gaon and Patiya were first raped and then doused in kerosene and petrol and burnt.
Survivors of the attack recall that the local police sided totally with the riotous mob. Residents in the camps deposed that the Special Reserve Police (SRP) force present refused to provide them sanctuary and forced them towards the waiting rioters. Once resistance was broken with the help of the police, the rioters stormed inside the settlement, burning and looting at will.
Witness after witness testified to the brazen refusal of the police and even the SRP personnel to do their bounden duty and protect those under attack. ("Nahi, aaj to upar se order aaya ke aaj tumhari jaan bachane ki nahi hai." ("No, today we have orders from above that you are not to be saved") one witness testified that a policeman, KK Mysorewala, clearly told her.)
Commissioner of police, PC Pandey was aware of the attack on this lone Muslim settlement on the outskirts of Ahmedabad from the morning of Feb 28 itself, when over two dozen calls made to his mobile phone were desperate cries for help from residents in the area. But no help was forthcoming. His team and the local police station with PI, KK Mysorewala, have been directly indicted by the evidence recorded by the Tribunal.
Witnesses alleged that the leaders of the riotous mobs were waving copies of the Sandesh newspaper, saying see what you Muslims have done to us Hindus at Godhra as they attacked the area. The men in the mob that attacked Naroda Gaon and Patiya were described by witnesses as wearing khaki shorts, caps and had saffron bands [kesri patta] tied around them. Many witnesses testified that when out of distress they screamed, "Allah! Allah!" they were taunted by the attackers, who said, "No, say Jai Sri Ram!"
Mohammed Hussain was one of the people who were shot dead by the police in this area. His wife testified before the Tribunal. He was on the other side of the road when the attack began in the morning with a six-month-old daughter in his arms. Across the road, his wife had their other two children with her. He was trying to cross over to where his family was when he was hit. The bullet hit him in the head; it blasted in from one side of his head out through the other. He fell down right there. Though his wife screamed to the police for help, there was none forthcoming. As she was trying to reach him, the police beat her up severely and then they hit the children. They were hitting them with the butts of their rifles, preventing the wife from reaching her injured husband. Some Muslim youth tried to pull the witness’ husband out of the way. He was bleeding profusely so they tried to move him to the side. They had moved him just a little way when a Hindu mob came and poured kerosene on him, put cycle tyres on him and set fire to him there and then. The wife was witness to this. She was screaming for help, trying to get them to stop, but the police could do nothing. Then as the mob came towards them she had to run with her three children towards Gopinath society where her brother lived. When she met the Tribunal she was traumatised by the events of that day. The assailants had burnt her husband so badly, his face, everything was burnt. Their 4-year-old son was an eyewitness to everything that happened and the child was still ill in May 02, still distraught at having lost his father. He saw his father’s body, he saw him bleeding. He was witness to his father’s killing. The third child, a girl, is 2 ½ years old. The six-month-old, injured by a brutal rod is recovering. This woman also saw many young girls running naked in front of her eyes. According to her testimony, they caught hold of innocent children and sliced them up. They were pulled out of their mothers’ arms. Her aunt (her mother’s brother’s wife), has returned to her parents’ village in Gulbarga now, after her two children, Nilofer and Sohail, were burnt alive.
This witness, when trying to escape asked some Hindu women from the locality for a drink of water. They refused. She then went to the SRP post. She asked a man in uniform there to allow her to go to the big water tank where she could get some water but he refused. He said the orders were that she was not to be allowed further. He added laughing, "Yeh tumhara akhri din hai, vaise bhi tum marne wale ho" ("This is the last day of your life, you’re going to die anyway"). It was a police officer in uniform, who said this to the witness.
This witness and many others testified to the taunting demeanour of the SRP men who did not help them at all. In fact, many were whistling at the victims from their location up there, jeering and laughing. They were also playing religious songs (mandir ke gaane, bhajans) on the tape recorder, blasting them at full volume. They also assaulted young Muslim boys, grabbing hold of them, pulling them by their hair, shoving them around saying, "Hato, hato!" ("Move, Clear off!") The police have not recorded the statements of this witness and she had not received compensation either. She expressed the wish to use the compensation money for rehabilitation but not at Naroda where all was lost for her and many others.
After the first attack on the morning of February 28, the second assault began around 2.30 p.m. when the mobs gathered on all sides of the basti. There was ample time between the first round of attacks and the second for the police to have galvanised enough forces. This time, according to witnesses, many from the attackers were carrying jerry-cans (kerba) filled with kerosene, diesel [kaala tel] and black oil from the ST workshop. They first poured this on some of the victims nearest at hand. The workers present at the ST workshop were observed supplying them with black oil (diesel?) which they then used in the arson. The aggressors were lighting balls of cloth and throwing them on the victims. They were throwing fuel and fire-balls at the residents from the rooftops of nearby buildings as well. Many of those who were trying to come out of the area were pushed back, prodded with long sticks. Over four dozen witnesses from Naroda, living at in different camps in Ahmedabad city during the visit by members of the Tribunal, narrated the fact that more than 150 calls for help had been made to the commissioner of police PC Pandey on his mobile phone. Initially, they received terse responses, after which, witnesses averred, the mobile was simply switched off.
The falsity of the official figures, which suggested only around 70 deaths in the Naroda Patiya incident, was evident from the testimonies of so many survivors who have listed in detail the missing persons from that area and who named their kith and kin, whom they had seen dying in front of their eyes. The actual death toll has to be much higher. Many also narrated how SRP men misguided a large group of people who were trying to escape into a trap, where the mob killed them and threw the bodies into a well. Most of the dead bodies were charred or mutilated beyond recognition and an overwhelming majority of the survivors did not manage to have access to the bodies of their relatives in order to perform the last rites in a dignified manner.
Dozens of eyewitnesses who deposed before the Tribunal described gory incidents where children were burnt alive and women were raped. One woman, Kauser Bano, who was nine-months’ pregnant, had her belly cut open and her foetus wrenched out, then swung on the edge of a sword before being dashed to the ground and flung into the fire. According to eyewitness accounts, at least two more women were subjected to a similar fate. The enormity and ferocity of the attack forced all the surviving residents of the settlement to run away. Every house was looted and some burnt. The entire settlement was completely devastated.
The Tribunal also recorded the testimony of an eyewitness to the rape of Khairunissa, daughter of Marukh Bano. An animal-like mob of 11 gang raped her. Soon after the brutal act, they burnt the family alive one by one. The mother’s head was cut off. Those bodies of this family that could be found were in a horrifying brutalised condition.
The violence at Naroda Gaon and Patiya was marked, as in other areas of Gujarat, by pre-meditated and sinister levels of violence and, at the time of the Tribunal’s visit, arson burn among was a recurrent factor. Sexual crimes against women and girls, including rape, were determinedly used.
An eyewitness to the murder of 6-year-old Imran also deposed before the Tribunal. The witness described how petrol instead of water was poured into the mouth of 6-year-old Imran. A lit matchstick was then thrown into his mouth and the child just blasted apart.
The 76-year-old father of Kauser Bano, who lost seven family members including his pregnant daughter, has survived along with his nephew, Javed Ismail, a 14-year-old who was working. This witness testified before the Tribunal. His parents were burnt in front of his eyes. He heard the mob, who attacked with iron rods and lathis before using arson, shouting, "You have burnt our train, we will not let you go!" Javed was badly hurt himself. He was hit on the head with a metal rod/pipe and fell unconscious. Before he was attacked he saw the assailants hitting a young girl from the neighbourhood on the groin (pisaab ki jagah) with metal rods/pipes and then killing her. He was then assaulted by a man who hit him on the eye and he fell down unconscious.
Young Javed’s father, Ismailbhai, a tailor, and two other family members, his mother and sister, were also killed. Only his uncle, Kauser Bano’s father is alive. None of the dead in this family could be identified.
Kauser Bano’s father told the Tribunal that he now had little with which to live. The gold ring that he wore would be used for the costs of his funeral.
Many victim-survivors from Naroda Patiya had to be hospitalised and were admitted to VS hospital or LG hospital for several days. Many were re-united with their families after a week or ten days. The severity of burn injuries on the victims could be observed by the Tribunal, especially among those living at the Sundaramnagar relief camp. There has been no aid or relief for victims of burn injuries though arson was a technique of violence that was used relentlessly in the post-Godhra carnage.
According to the testimonies of witnesses as recorded by the Tribunal, at least 80 people were burnt alive and thrown into the well, Tisra kua, behind Gangotri and Gopi Park, behind the ST workshop. A 70-year-old woman, Tarkas bibi Abdul Ghani, was burnt alive. The police was completely inactive and this provided inspiration to the mob. The message was, "Muslim ko zinda jalao" ("Burn the Muslims alive"). The shocking thing was that the SRP also supported the mob. Tear gas was being flung at the Muslim mohalla (neighbourhood), which was, in fact, being targeted by the mobs.
As one witness maintained: "… I saw them do this. We ran on ahead and by the time I reached our mohalla it must have been about 3 p.m. By this time we were really worried. The mob had started burning houses, looting, throwing petrol and setting fire to buildings. Since ours were kaccha houses (crude/impermanent structures), we climbed on to the roofs of pucca RCC buildings nearby. There were many of us, including women and children at Gopinath, Gangotrinagar. This was at about 3-4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Between 5 and 6 p.m., when the mob was at the height of its frenzy, many of our women were first raped and then doused in kerosene and petrol and burnt… I saw them doing this"
Fathers testified with pain and humiliation about the rape of their daughters. One Sufiya Bano, aged 22 years, was raped and burnt in front of her father. The Civil Hospital, where she was admitted and later died, confirmed the attack on her.
When her father, a witness who deposed before the Tribunal, tried to save his daughter, he was brutally caught hold off and his beard cut off. Seven members from this family were killed — three sons — Mehmood (18 ), Ayub (14) and Hussain, (7 ), three daughters — Sufiyabano (22), Afrinbano and Shahinbano (4), and his wife, Lalibibi (40).
Naroda Gaon and Patiya possibly witnessed the worst intensity of violence as also the most planning. Close to 150 persons are estimated to have been burnt alive after being hacked, cut, gang raped. It is shocking that months after such gruesome carnage the state has made no attempts to compute exact figures of loss of life. Bodies were thrown into a well. Women have been killed in very large numbers. At the mass grave that was dug on March 6, to provide burial to 96 bodies from Naroda Patiya, 46 women were buried.
Victim-survivors of Naroda Patiya do not have any papers to show proof of existence or residence. There are no death certificates since no remains were found as bodies were burnt to ashes. The government has done nothing to address this problem. A majority of families from here have migrated back to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan.
The scale and brutality of the violence needs not only to be recorded in detail but dealt with firmly. Swords, iron rods and trishuls were used in the attacks. Limbs of victims were severed off, before many were just quartered; while girls and women were stripped and paraded naked, before being raped and burnt. Most bodies were not recovered. How could they be?
Apart from the police, including PI, KK Mysorewala, who told victims who begged for help, that "today there are no orders to save you", witnesses also testified that some SRP police also supported the miscreants. Some of the SRP personnel reportedly told the victims that "Tumko aaj andar nahi lenge, tumko aaj marneka hai" ("We won’t allow you in (to shelter in the SRP post) today, today you have to die"). Many workers from the ST Workshop, government employees, were also involved. They were shouting "Jai Shri Ram!" and they threw stones at the victims and also supplied the fuel/diesel (kaala paani) for burning. Neither the SRP nor workers from the ST Workshop came to the aid of those being attacked.
The scale and the brutality of the attack suggest obvious pre-planning and training – especially considering that the attack on this neighbourhood went on for no less than seventeen and a half hours. Finally, it was under police escort provided by additional CP Tandon at 2.30 a.m. that Sharif Khan of Shah-e-Alam Camp rescued victims of Naroda Gaon and Patiya on the morning of February 29.
One of the significant testimonies recorded by the Tribunal was of young men from the area of Naroda Gaon and Patiya who had attended Bajrang Dal Camps at Sardarnagar and Dwarkanagar on a weekly basis. These camps had started since August-September 2001. Some of these meetings were secret, only meant for trusted mantris. Swords and trishuls were distributed at these camps. Youth were galvanised to be in a constant state of military preparation for a ‘war’ about to take place. The regular indoctrination at these camps, as recorded by those who had attended them, and who divulged details about the same to the Tribunal, was that the main ‘target of hatred’ was Muslims. Members who attended and were being trained were also assured of protection from the police and from the organisation if anything were to happen to them. Many persons who deposed about the camps expressed the opinion that the training made ordinary young men become terrorists.
At Naroda, 1,100 homes belonging to Muslims were first looted and then 25 per cent of these were burnt. Witnesses spoke about a particular substance – a packet of whitish powder, which when thrown on a person’s skin made the skin peel off. Once the flesh was bared, people were burnt to death. Many witnesses saw the attackers throw this whitish substance. They used their hands to throw it but witnesses could not say whether the attackers used something to protect themselves when they threw it. In Naroda, Shahin Bano (22), spoke of one Hindu family living there who, she thought, must have heard that something was going to happen because they ran away the night before the attacks began.
Several witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal were eyewitnesses to Dr. Jaideep Patel (VHP) and Maya Kotdani (BJP MLA) actually leading the mobs. They were also instrumental in encouraging other accused to commit violent sexual crimes. Other accused among politicians were Ashok (MLC) and Vallabh(MLC) named directly by eyewitnesses.
One of the main accused, Bhavani Singh Chhara was identified by many witnesses as intimidating and threatening residents before the attack. He was involved in the most loathsome crimes. He has another name but people called him Bhavani. He is a driver working for AMTS, has a son who is a lawyer practising at Bhadra Court, and lived in the mohalla/area. Witnesses said that he has a big moustache and is a Chhara (Tribal), a Rathod. He was responsible for stripping girls and women, parading them and then raping them. Young boys of eight have witnessed crimes of this nature against women who were their sisters and mothers. Limbs of women were dismembered, a variety of objects were thrust into women’s bodies. Apart from Bhavani Chhara, Suraj Chhara and many Chharas from Chharanagar were in the mob, especially initiating the crimes against women. Guddu Chhara son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya (local level BJP/VHP worker), one of the accused, was absconding from the neighbourhood when the Tribunal recorded evidence.
Jaideep Patel (second in rank to Praveen Togadia of the VHP) was the leader of the mob. A doctor by profession, Jaideep Patel was one of those who travelled in the motor cavalcade from Godhra to Ahmedabad and incited persons along the way. Guddu Chhara, son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya; Ratilal son of Bhavani Singh; AMTS driver, Mungna Chhara; the Owner of Manoj Video Pvt. Firm; Murli Naran Sindhi; Satish Mahadik; Bipin Panchal (a dangerous person who is said to have a lethal gun, he is the owner of Uday Gas Agency), are the main accused.
Ratilal, AMTS driver Mungna Chhara and the owner of Manoj Video were the rapists. Bipin Panchal, also known as Bipin Sindhi, (a local level BJP/VHP worker), is believed to have 400-500 gas cylinders in stock. Many of them were used to explode homes and other buildings. It is believed that trucks from Shola Satellite area were commissioned to enable the huge mob to move freely.
Ashok (BJP MLC),
Vallabh (BJP MLC),
Mayabehn Kotdani ( BJP MLA),
Dr Jaideep Patel (second in rank to Praveen Togadia of the VHP),
for leading the mob.
Guddu Chhara, son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya (local level BJP/VHP worker)
Ratilal, son of Bhavani Singh
AMTS driver, Mungna Chhara
Owner of Manoj Video Pvt. Firm
Murli Naran Sindhi
Bipin Panchal Sindhi, owner, Uday Gas Agency (local level BJP/VHP worker)
Jai Bhagwan (Gangotri apartments); (local level BJP/VHP worker)
Naresh and Chotta, (local level BJP/VHP worker)
Sangeet Furniturewala Sindhi.
Accused of Rape: Ratilal, AMTS driver Mungna Chhara and owner of Manoj Video
Accused (assailants): Bajrang Dal/VHP activists
Accused (police): the IGP, commissioner of police, PC Pandey,
and PI, KK Mysorewala
Rest of Ahmedabad
On February 28, 2002 various areas of Ahmedabad city and it’s environs were systematically targeted by mobs. While the treacherous attack on Gulberg society began in the early morning itself, by about 9 a.m., simultaneous attacks had been launched at Naroda Fruit market, Vatwa, Gomtipur and Sundaramnagar among others.
Of the 200 wholesale fruit businesses with galas in Naroda Fruit Market, all 17 owned by the Memon community were selectively and completely gutted after money from the safes was stolen and all business records destroyed. Agricultural produce committee chairman, Laxman D. told witnesses 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. Witness Ramanlal, Naroda Fruit Market, Swami Narayan Road, Naroda, testified to the targeted attack on his business, which was, in fact, a three-generations-old story of Hindu-Muslim partnership. Ibrahim Ramanlal is a fruit commission agent located on the Swami Narayan Chawl Road. This traditional intra-community partnership was not spared by mobs, people who had obviously done their research well. Losses incurred by Ibrahim Ramanlal amount to Rs. 2.5 lakh.
Behind the fruit market, the Babanshah Mosque at Swami Narayan Chawl was also reduced to rubble. Pages of the Koran were torn and strewn all over the floor; the vandals had even had time to defecate on it. A framed photograph of a Hindu idol was placed at the very spot where the imam stands to lead namaaz. Telltale signs of a puja having been performed here, 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.
The New Gujarat (National) Kabadi Market Corporation, near Bhulabhai Park, Behrampura, was attacked, vandalised for three full days from February 28-March 2. The two watchmen on duty were maimed and butchered before being torched. The Kagdapeth police station located nearby just allowed this 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 lasted for three whole days, to make sure that the destruction was total.
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 policemen at the Kagdapeth police station, under which the Kabadi Market falls, were blind to the systematic damage for three days. Dozens of calls were made to the police to ask for their assistance. The total loss to materials is about Rs. 4 crore while the loss to buildings, amounts to Rs 1.5 crore. As the violence began in Ahmedabad on February 28, the troublemakers broke down the gates of Kabadi Market, looted and burnt down all the shops, and destroyed the Kabadi Market completely.
A witness from Jamalpur told the Tribunal how the 100-year-old dargah opposite the Jagannath Mandir had 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 sounds and trumpeting that followed caused terror in the entire locality. During the last election, former minister 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.
Three eyewitnesses, who deposed before the Tribunal, saw former revenue minister Haren Pandya opposite the VS Hospital, setting fire to the Apna Bazaar Medical. "Aa Miyaone aag lagadiye" ("Let us burn these Muslims"), he was shouting, after he had 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 Pandya, leading the mob, prevented them. An FIR has been launched against him and BJP MLA Ashok Bhatt. Just outside the Ellis Bridge police station, Haren Pandya was overheard 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.
Vatwa, an area located on the southern outskirts of Ahmedabad, saw repeated and prolonged bouts of violence, first on February 28, then on March 20 and again on April 5, the day after the PM’s visit. These attacks were led by large mobs comprising several residents of nearby housing colonies like Murlidhar society, Mani society, Asapalav society, Picnic Park and Manav Nagar. The attacks were allegedly led by a resident of Vatwa, who is also a Bajrang Dal leader – Haresh Patel. Patel was ably supported by the police. The total population of Vatwa is 1,21,716. Out of these, 65,928 are male and 55,788 female. Thirty per cent of the total population of Vatwa is Muslim. During the violence in Vatwa, 5 persons died in the Roshni Park area, 4 persons died in Syedwadi, and 4 persons died in the Nawapura area. In all, 60 people were severely injured. Out of them, 8 were injured in police firing while the rest, 52 in all, were injured in private firing, burning, stone throwing or bomb blasts.
At Nawapura-Kabrastan, a basti of 300 houses was completely gutted by mobs that attacked all day and through the night on February 28. The attacks were launched by the residents of Asapalav, Picnic Park, and Manav Nagar housing colonies. There were many persons from the Waghari community involved in the attacks.
In the following localities, all the Muslim homes were burnt down: Bachubhai Kua (70-80 houses); Bismillah Nagar (60 houses); Darbar Khetar (70-80 houses); Syedwadi (150 houses); Azim Park (100 houses); Muchadipir (9 houses); Roshni Raos (105 houses); Burhani Society (72 houses); Vanderval Talav (110 houses); Jahedshah Pirni Dargah (15 houses); (8) Janiya Pirno Tekro(10 houses).
Witnesses like Anwar Jaffri, Munawwarbhai Pathan and Rizwana Shaikh, an advocate, told the Tribunal that Bachubhai Kua, Bismillah Nagar and Nawapura were burnt on February 28 while Roshni Raos and others were burnt down the next day. The crowds that attacked here were huge—witnesses described how they saw heads, heads and more heads (‘mundi, mundi, mundi’). Mahesh Patel of the Bajrang Dal, Girish Pandya and Amita Patel (municipal councillors belonging to the BJP) were leading the crowd. They were even arrested on March 3, but by that evening they had been released on bail. PI Singh and PI Damod were openly helping them. Every nook and cranny in Murlidhar society and Manav Nagar is filled with VHP and Bajrang Dal supporters. The crowd was carrying swords, pawda, chara (agricultural implements); some even had guns. They were wearing saffron headbands and shouting "Send Muslims to Pakistan." Apart from torching all the homes, 7-8 persons were killed in firing and another 7-8 persons are missing. The residents of Nawapura were mainly involved in the bhangar (recycling) business. On February 28, when Syedwadi and Nawapura were being gutted by mobs from the ‘border’ areas, the SP KC Patel, was himself standing there. He was also spotted at Waghnivas Kabrastan, standing and enjoying the destruction. The entire police department watched as large parts of Vatwa were destroyed.
One Vilayat Hussain whose farmhouse was burnt down, suffered a loss of Rs. 3-4 lakh because even the wheat crop was burnt and the bore-well destroyed. A complaint was filed on March 1. The assailants identified by eyewitnesses are Mahesh Patel (Bajrang Dal), Girish Pandya and Amita Patel (BJP corporators). The policemen indicted for dereliction of duty are superintendent of police, PI Singh, PI Damod.
Women victim-survivors from Vatwa spoke of the particularly objectionable behaviour of the PI Damod from Vatwa police station. He openly threatened people saying that if anyone complained, "We will take away Muslim children and women." Many of the residents of Nawapura are in the bhangar ka dhanda, (scrap business) and all the residents of these bastis are daily wage earners. For weeks after the first assault, the victim-survivors continued to be terrorised as, every night, a cassette was played on the loud speakers with voices shouting, "Kato! Maro!" ("Chop! Kill!"). They wanted victims to come out of their homes in panic so that they could attack them again. When women went to the other side of the ‘border’ to buy vegetables, vendors were threatened: "Do not sell vegetables to Muslim women, nor milk for Muslim children." Witness Abeida cried uncontrollably as she narrated her story. Hers was the first house at Nawapura and it suffered the worst destruction. "I recall the men who entered my house. One wore jeans and had specs on. They kept on shouting some Bajrang Dal slogans; they destroyed everything." All the belongings painstakingly saved by the witness for years, including her own wedding jewels, were looted. Dowries collected for her three daughters were all gone. With particular poignancy she said that what she had collected over 30 years was destroyed in as many hours.
Ahmedabad city was the scene of brutal violence, typified by the Gulberg society carnage and the Naroda massacre. But stray and sinister instances took place everywhere else as well. At the CTM Char Rasta, Salim Khan, a Muslim driver, was burnt alive after a message was passed on the police wireless that a Muslim driver was coming that way. On the night of February 28, when people were attacked in Vatwa, all they could see was heads and more heads. Swords were being waved in the air, shots were fired by privately owned guns. "Tab hame malum pada ki hamara Allah ke seva koi nahin" ("Then we realised that none but Allah is on our side"), one witness said. The crowd had only one intention: "Musalmanon ko khatam karo!" ("Finish off the Muslims!") And throughout, innocent people were killed. Out of sheer fright, the residents of Roshni Park, Raunak Park, Tufel Park, Siraj Park, Nawapura, Vandervad Talao, Jasodanagar Pate, Burhani society and Bismillah Nagar moved into the relief camps.
The behaviour of PI Damod was nothing short of criminal. When some persons spoke to him near Taslim society about the scale of violence, these were his words: "Jo hua kam hua; itna maar khaya kam hai ki aur mar khana hai?" ("What happened is not enough. Are you satisfied with the beating that you have received, or do you want more?")
In Vatwa, otherwise a locality of poor Muslims, there is also the 65-bungalow Burhani society, consisting of sturdy bungalows that were destroyed by huge mobs on February 28. They used acid and explosive chemicals while setting fire to homes. A timer device, black in colour, was attached to the mains and some solvent poured into it, enabling a quick short-circuit, in seconds. Samples of the chemicals that they used to ensure that the fire raged on for hours, were produced before the Tribunal. Chemicals were also recovered from four other locations within Ahmedabad. As elsewhere, in Vatwa, too, gas cylinders had been used to explode homes, a school and a mosque. Rasool Khan, the principal of the government-recognised Asmi High School, where 500 students used to study, deposed before the Tribunal. This school admitted students from KG to the 10th standard. His wife is the principal of another school, the Friends High School, which had almost 1,000 students. Asmi High School was completely burnt down and so was their bungalow, situated just behind the school. The worst part of this offence was the fact that the witness said that, leading the attackers, he saw a fellow educationist, Navneet Patel, the principal of two municipal schools situated in the Hindu-dominated side of the area who is also the owner of Patel Pan House, apart from being principal of Tajgi School. Along with Keshubhai Sabziwala and Babulal Patel, Navneet Patel led the three-sided attack on this school and the whole of Burhani society. Nothing can be more painful for a teacher and a principal than to see his school being burnt, all the records torn and destroyed and even the children’s work and charts defecated upon. But, when the attack is led by an educationist, a human being who is supposed to impart values and a sense of purpose to the young, despair fills the heart. There appears a clear target in the overall destruction — lives maimed and brutally snuffed out, the community crippled economically, religious and cultural symbols debased, and all signs of modernity and growth erased.
After the first attacks, the second bout was on March 20, when, at about 5.00 p.m., a crowd came from the Asapalav society and Nilgiri society, both of which are occupied by Hindus, and set fire to the godown in Nawapura. Since the fire and smoke were visible from Syedwadi, a group of people gathered outside Syedwadi, to see what was happening. In the meantime, senior police officers such as SP KC Patel and ACP BS Jebaliya as well as local PIs arrived and soon after that, the policemen in about 3 police vehicles jumped out of their vehicles and started firing at the crowd in Syedwadi. As a result, 2 persons died on the spot and several were injured in the police firing.
On April 5, the day after Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit to Gujarat, at about 10.00 p.m., the residents of Karmabhumi society, occupied by Hindus, suddenly started throwing bombs on the mosque situated close to Makdumnagar society. There is only a wall between the Karmabhumi and Makdumnagar societies. Immediately after the attack, 6-7 van loads of policemen, believed to be a combing squad from Gaekwad Haveli, came around with lathis and guns and raided the mosque where mainly small children and women had gathered. When a policeman walked into the holy place with his shoes on, a young boy requested him to remove his shoes before entering the mosque. The policemen took offence at this request and started beating the boy and everyone else who was there, including the women inside and outside the mosque. Many women who were in their houses came out to see the cause and nature of the commotion. In the darkness, they could not see the policemen, and before they realised what was happening, they were being severally beaten up by the police who used lathis, kicks and rifle butts. Several women were injured and many youngsters including minors were arrested.
The accused here are Navneet Patel (school principal), Keshubhai Sabziwala, Babulal Patel, Mahesh Patel (Bajrang Dal), Girish Pandya (BJP corporator), Amita Patel (BJP corporator). The policemen indicted are SP KC Patel, PI CJ Singh, PI DD Damod (Vatwa police station), PSI Yadav, PSI Chavda, PI Jadeja (Ellis Bridge) and BM Chauhan and BS Ninama (GIDC police station, Vatwa.)
The main incidents in Vatwa took place on February 28-March 1, March 20 and April 5. The houses and shops in this area were either totally destroyed or substantially damaged and therefore people were unable to return to them.
Apart from the shops and houses, even the places of worship belonging to the minority community were not spared. Four mosques and 9 dargahs in the Vatwa area were damaged. In the GIDC area of Vatwa, about 15 houses were destroyed while 15 shops in the surrounding areas of Vatwa were destroyed.
Eleven witnesses from Paldi deposed before the Tribunal. The attack on this area took place on February 28, 2002. Paldi is a posh locality in Ahmedabad, where, over the past two decades, affluent Muslims have moved in. There are many Jains living in the locality. In the past, there have been attempts, even violent ones, to terrorise Muslims into not entering Paldi. (See section on Build-Up in Gujarat, Volume II).
There were attacks on 6 housing societies in Paldi, where about 1,000 Muslims live. In all, there are about 5-6,000 Hindus living in this area. Kazmi Apartments, Elite, Delite, Corner 2, Tarana Apartments and Bungalows No. 16 and 24 in Paldi, occupied by the owners of Motimahal, were completely burnt. Eyewitnesses testified to seeing the then Gujarat revenue minister, Haren Pandya, leading mobs who then committed arson.
While there was no violence here in 1969, in 1990 there was a significant incident, in which one member from a family living in Delite Apartments was burnt alive. "Wahi log aaj bhi kam kar rahe hain" ("The same people are up to similar deeds now"), an eyewitness told the Tribunal. Pandya was elected from this constituency (Ellis Bridge). During his campaign for the last elections, he openly said, "Paldi se musalman ka naam aur nishan mita denge" ("We’ll wipe out any trace of Muslim presence from the Paldi area"). Among the witnesses from Paldi who deposed before the Tribunal, were Aftab and Ghizala Kadri (the latter works at the Oriental Insurance near Lal Darwaza, Ahmedabad) and Ayaz and Wasim Aslam (the latter is employed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service). Both couples were residents of Kazmi Apartments, Paldi, Flat No. 3 and 4 respectively but have shifted location subsequently. Justice AN Divecha (retired judge of the Gujarat High Court) lived in Flat 1 and 2 of the same building and is a neighbour. Besides being victims themselves, they are eyewitnesses to what happened to Justice Divecha. These affected victim-survivors have since relocated, because, even six months down, the situation in their former building has not improved.
On the night of February 28, some 25-30 petrol bombs were thrown inside their flats from outside. When they looked out to see who the assailants were, witnesses recognised VHP people from the area. Efforts to call 100 (Police Control) resulted in their urging DCP Parghi to send protection. Parghi sent a PI and PSI to check on the damage. The reason why the victim-survivors asked for protection was that, although the bombs had damaged only the walls of their homes, the intention of the attackers was clear.
However, PSI Birja, who came and inspected the damage, said it was not enough to warrant any police protection. The next morning, at about 11.30 a.m., a mob of 50-60 persons hurled stones and broke the windowpanes of Flat no. 3. Witnesses/victim-survivors called Police Control again. In the mob, they could spot some known faces that they had seen the day before. Even now, they were reluctant to leave their homes.
In Kazmi Apartments, there are 12 flats, all belonging to Muslims. By the morning of February 28, only 10-12 residents remained in the building. The witnesses and others had sent their families off elsewhere. One of the witnesses, advocate Aftab Kadri, spent the whole day, February 28, watching a 2,500-3,000 strong mob wreak havoc in the area.
The mob first attacked Tarana Apartments. They were armed with baseball bats, hockey sticks and cricket bats. They used the combined force of 3,000 persons to break down a strong gate. They were riding in Sumo vans. They broke the locks of 12 flats at Tarana Apartments, looted and burnt them. The second building to be attacked was Delite Apartments. They used Pepsi bottles to create the impact of home bombs. They used chemical solvents to ensure that once a fire started it did not stop.
The third building to be attacked was Elite Apartments, most of whose occupants are advocates. The fourth building to be attacked was Kazmi Apartments, the building where the witnesses lived. Justice AN Divecha left here in the dead of night, at 12 p.m. on February 28. This retired judge, too, has still not returned home. He has been provided accommodation in the Judges’ Bungalows area. Former CJ Rajasthan, Justice AP Ravani, who deposed before the Tribunal, (See section on Witnesses, Volume I) said that from about 3 p.m. on February 28, he started receiving phone calls about the violence that had erupted in the city. Some advocates phoned him to say that in front of the High Court, trucks were burnt and judges had left the premises. He said that he was shocked to hear this, particularly because he knew of the presence of a police company within the High Court premises, which should have ensured prevention of violence. The witness then telephoned some of his friends belonging to the minority community. Justice Ravani contacted Justice MH Kadri at about 4 p.m. Justice Kadri told the witness that the situation around his bungalow was very tense. Incidents of looting and arson had started taking place. He told Justice Ravani that two ill-equipped police constables were posted there. Then Justice Ravani contacted a retired DSP, and requested him to speak to someone in Ellis Bridge police station and ask the police to visit Justice Kadri’s residence. One PI ( PI Vachhani) visited Justice Kadri’s house. He told Justice Kadri that he had no extra police force but he himself would be making rounds and keeping watch. After an hour or so, Justice Ravani again contacted Justice Kadri, who informed the witness that in nearby Dhuliakot area (where the High Court Judges’ bungalows are located) further incidents of looting and arson had taken place. Even near Gujarat College and near Nagari Hospital, garages belonging to the minority community were damaged or burnt. Thereupon, Justice Ravani asked a friend staying in Muslim Society, opposite Navrangpura police station, for advice. At this stage, the grave doubt that occupied the minds of the witness and his friend was whether the crowd would give Justice Kadri enough time to phone for help. The witness remained in constant touch with Justice Kadri until about 10.30 -11.00 p.m. that night.
The next day, i.e. March 1, at around 8.30 a.m., Justice Ravani tried to contact Justice Kadri, but there was no response on the telephone. This worried him, so he contacted the protocol officer of the Gujarat High Court. The protocol officer told him that late the previous night, Justice Kadri, along with his family members, had shifted to the nearby bungalow of Justice Vaghela. Justice Ravani requested the protocol officer to convey to Justice Kadri that he was worried, and to request Justice Kadri to contact him as soon as possible. At about 11.30 a.m., Justice Kadri telephoned Justice Ravani and told him that pursuant to the suggestion of the Chief Justice and other judges, he, along with his family members, had shifted to the bungalow of Justice Vaghela. He further told Justice Ravani that he was being asked to shift to the Judges’ Bungalows in Vastrapur.
At that point, Justice Ravani expressed shock at the prevalent state of affairs. Justice Ravani said that for a sitting judge to be asked to shift from his official residence because he was not given full protection amounted to an insult to the independence of the judiciary and also an insult to the secular philosophy of the Constitution. In response, Justice Kadri requested the witness to come to his home. Before going to Justice Kadri’s place, Justice Ravani tried to contact Justice RA Mehta, director, Judicial Academy. Justice Mehta was not available at home but, from his residence, Justice Ravani discovered that Justice Divecha, retired High Court Judge and former chairman MRTP, was forced to shift out of his residence and that his house had been ransacked. The witness also contacted Justice Divecha at a friend’s house. At about 1.15-1.30 p.m., the witness reached Justice Kadri’s house. He was soon joined by Justice Mehta, who also arrived there. From the subsequent talk that they had with Justice Kadri, Justice Ravani gathered that:
u Chief Justice Dharmadhikari was worried about the safety of Justice Kadri and his family members and was requesting him to shift to Judges’ Bungalows in Vastrapur, or to the CJ’s own residence which is near Judges’ Bungalows.
u Military intelligence people had told Justice Kadri that it would be advisable to shift out of his bungalow because the police force posted at his residence was not sufficient protection against mob violence and that he should not rely on the local police for his safety. The military people had offered him accommodation in the military guesthouse in the cantonment area, where they could ensure his safety.
Justice Kadri asked his two brother judges for their opinion and, at that point, Justice Mehta received a call on his mobile phone, from the registrar of the High Court, who was speaking from the residence of the Chief Justice. The registrar informed him that two bungalows, i.e. Bungalow No. 14 and Bungalow No. 26, were ready and either could be occupied by Justice Kadri.
Justice Mehta handed over the phone to Justice Kadri. After his talk with the registrar, Justice Kadri asked his two colleagues what they felt he should do now.
At this stage, Justice Ravani said, "Brother, I am withdrawing my philosophical assertions on telephone. The ground reality is that the Constitutional philosophy remains now in the book only. We may be courageous but we are not soldiers fighting on the border where to move backward even an inch would be an act of cowardice. In the situation in which you are now placed, it would be unwise not to shift to a safer place." He further advised him that he should not go anywhere else except in areas close to his kith and kin. With an ailing mother, aged about 85 and suffering from cardiac disease, and two college going girls, his wife and himself in a family with no other male member, the trauma that the family was experiencing required the warmth and support of their kith and kin. Military people may have protected him physically but they would not have been able to offer him warmth and psychological support. Justice Mehta was of the same opinion.
During their talk with Justice Kadri, the witness and his colleague also realised that he (Justice Kadri) had not eaten since the night before. It was at around 2.30 p.m. that they made him consume a meagre meal. After he finished his lunch, Justice Kadri received a phone call from military people or someone connected with the military. In the presence of witnesses, he said that he was ready to shift to his sister-in-law’s flat, situated behind VS Hospital, near Tagore Hall. At about 5.00 p.m., Justice Ravani contacted Justice Kadri and learnt that at about 4.00 p.m., under military escort, Justice Kadri and his family members had shifted to his sister-in-law’s house and that his mother’s health was quite stable.
Justice Ravani also received panic-stricken calls from advocates who hailed from the minority community, desperately asking him to use his influence and get them police protection. The witness, a judge from Gujarat and former Chief Justice, expressed utter helplessness at the state of affairs, because he found that even his influence was limited. This witness had also submitted a detailed memorandum to the NHRC.
Businessman, Uvez Sareshwala, a resident of Paldi area, also testified before the Tribunal regarding the attack on this area. He said that residents of Paldi began to feel insecure from February 27 itself when marked tension was prevalent all over Ahmedabad. He said that in Paldi, it was not just Muslims who were a target, but also Hindus like Dr. Vyas, Dr. Pragnesh Shah and Dr. Ramesh Parikh, who are professionals and who maintain cordial relations with Muslims. A prestigious polyclinic of doctors, who happen to be Hindus, on the first and second floors of Shalimar building, was also burnt down, using gas cylinders, because the building is Muslim pre-dominant. The attacks in Paldi took place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and some stray incidents took place on the morning of the next day.
In Bungalows No. 16 and 24, elderly family members, Zafar Sheikh, Abdullah Motimahalwala, Nizamuddin Memon and Iqbal Hasmani were badly bruised and injured when assailants from the mob attacked them with dharias (sickles), swords and guptis before some people rescued them.
A family from Tarana Apartments paid Rs. 50,000 to the police for protection, which they did not receive! In one of the incidents in Paldi, when the mob was storming into the home of Dr. Bhavnagari, he and his son fired a shot in self defence (see section on Criminal Justice system, Volume II) only to protect lives. For this they were harassed by the police and authorities and even jailed.
In Ahmedabad, the Disturbed Areas Act applies, as a result of which, Muslims and Hindus cannot buy property from each other. In Tulsi Apartments, many Muslims who had bought flats earlier cannot now sell to Hindus, and relocate to safer areas; so they feel cornered from all sides. "We have paid the price for living decently," is the refrain that could be heard from many of the Muslim residents of Paldi.
This area of Ahmedabad city is traditionally a communally sensitive spot. Here, violence raged from February 28, 2002 onwards when persons living at Barasaanche Ni Chawl, Nagori Chawl, Pannalal Chawl and Sone Ki Chawl, among others, were shot dead.(See Annexure 8-9, Police Statistics, Volume I). Victims from these areas suffered terrible injuries. In Bapunagar, Mariambi Ki Chawl and in Sone Ki Chawl, women members of the targeted Muslim community defended themselves bravely for over 6 hours, pelting stones. Young men drove trucks into the murderous mobs to disperse them. The Tribunal met 53 victims at relief camps all over the city and also at the Karnavati Club where the hearings for these areas were conducted. Two and a half months after the violence raged, there were still over 2,000 persons in the Sundaramnagar Camp, simply because insecurity prevailed. The Tribunal visited the Sundaramnagar Camp on May 4, 2002.(On February 28, of the 40 persons shot dead by the Ahmedabad police, 36 were Muslims).
Even on August 12, the day when President APJ Abdul Kalam visited victim-survivors at the Haj House Camps, victims from Gomtipur, Bapunagar and Naroda were vocal in their rage and alienation against the CM, Narendra Modi. If proper security, i.e., a military point, had been provided, then the people from the vicinity, from Gayatrinagar, Sundaramnagar, Azadnagar, Islamnagar would have gone back to their homes, they said.
Several mobs of about 10,000 persons each, amounting to a total of 3–4 lakh persons launched simultaneous attacks on these areas of Ahmedabad. While the attack in Gulberg society went on for 9 hours before rescue of the traumatised victim-survivors was possible, residents of Naroda Gaon and Patiya suffered from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. – a staggering 17 hours – before rescue was effected. However, in these parts of Ahmedabad, known to be minority strongholds or ghettos, sustained attacks continued unabated for a period of 36 hours.
The attackers functioned in relay batches of about 5,000 persons each, after attacks by one group the next batch would take over. The mobs pelted stones, set fire to buildings and properties and homes including the madrassa at Sundaramnagar, blasted gas cylinders, used a chemical as catalyst in fires etc.
In Sundaramnagar, the police openly supported the miscreants and deliberately opened fire against Muslims, killing and injuring several people in the area. More than the BJP, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, it was the police who were particularly active that day. They even led the mobs into attacks. Women victim-survivors named PSI Modi of the Gomtipur police station, who subjected them to verbal sexual abuse.
The well-organised attacking mobs used blasts and explosions with gas cylinders to ensure comprehensive damage. The blasts and explosions in different locations in this area continued for 36 hours. The attackers used to light the fires first and then the gas cylinders in so that the subsequent explosion would rip homes apart. The explosions were unpredictable, they could follow about 15-20 minutes later, there was no saying when they would blow. There were many such blasts in several buildings. About 8-10 such cylinders were used to blast the madrassa in Sundaramnagar. Extensive damage was done here, which has been repaired subsequently. The attackers had loaded cars with these cylinders and were moving around. Witnesses showed shards of one of the gas cylinders, of Deep Indian Agency, Distributors, that had been used as such an explosive device. Eyewitnesses saw a car carrying gas cylinders going around from this agency, carrying cylinders from the godown of Deep Indian Agency, Distributors. Following this car was a petrol tanker, and then a white Tata Sumo carrying more gas cylinders, following behind. They also used a particular chemical, contained in small vials that were thrown into the fire as a catalyst to the explosion, to ensure that the fire spread quickly. The Tribunal also saw a few hundred of these vials at Gulberg society, during their field visit there. At Sundaramnagar, the mobs had surrounded the entire area, from the agricultural field (khetar) to CTM (where a Muslim driver was burnt alive), and Sone Ki Chawl. The areas around the madrassa are home to working class Muslims, the poorest sections, daily wage earners. This madrassa (which subsequently became the relief camp) became a defence fortress for the people in the neighbourhood. Repeated messages were sent to the madrassa from the attackers, to find out how many of the poor victims were still alive.
Witness after witness who deposed before us, testified as to how the police abetted in mob violence in these areas of Ahmedabad city. It was the police in front, leading the attackers, while Hindu mobs followed. The police opened fire on poor, unsuspecting Muslim victims who were being made the target, to allow the mobs to proceed further. A vehicle of the ‘Uttam Doodh’ company was used to reverse into and break down the madrassa compound wall. Leaders of the mob even entered the building, sat there, drank alcohol in the madrassa, scrawled graffiti on the walls and set fire to it. "Long Live Narendra Modi!" ("Narendra Modi Zindabad"), "The inside story is, The police are with us in this" ("Yeh andar ki baat hai, Police humare saath hai"), "Long Live the RSS!" "Long Live Praveen Togadia!" "Long Live Gordhan Zadaphiya!" etc. were some of the slogans that were written on the walls in the madrassa at Sundaramnagar. The manager of the relief camp, Farukh Azam, testified to this. This witness was also an eyewitness to the conduct of none less than the Gujarat home minister, Gordhan Zadaphiya who passed this way. His car went past this area and then drove back again, on National Highway No. 8 just outside the madrassa.
This witness testified that it was when the attacks were at their height, when he saw Gordhan Zadaphiya driving past, openly encouraging the mobs, with his fingers raised in a "V-sign", cheering the mobs along the way. At least 10 witnesses testified to seeing this with their own eyes. This was Gordhan Zadaphiya, the home minister of Gujarat. His car was escorted by 2 police cars, one in the front and one at the rear. The witness said that he was willing to swear to this testimony as an eyewitness in court. He has already testified before Justice Verma and members of the NHRC at the Circuit House annexe, mentioning names, as he did before the Tribunal.
Witnesses from this area expressed anguish at what they saw as a design of the political dispensation, headed by the ruling BJP government, to wipe out the Muslim community in Gujarat. Witnesses said that part of this strategy included the eradication of all trace of Muslim presence on the Highway — no Muslims, no Muslim shops or establishments should be visible on the Highway. (The masjid opposite the police station at Bapunagar nearby was destroyed in full view of the police, and a mandir was built in its place. Similarly, a dargah opposite the Bapunagar masjid was also broken. Another masjid near the stadium was also broken. Several masjids were deliberately broken or trashed and in some cases like the Madina Masjid nearby, ‘Long Live Lord Ram!’ (‘Jai Siyaram’) etc. was scrawled across their walls.)
Many witnesses stated that over those three desperate days, they had called the top echelons of the police with no result. From the constable right up to the CP, no help was forthcoming. Either they would not answer their telephones or they would hang up on them.
Much later, camp managers requested the police to allow camp inhabitants the use of a road, a relatively safe passage between Satyamnagar and Gayatrinagar (which are predominated by Hindus and Muslims respectively), so that people who needed to visit their homes, which were looted etc. could get their safely. But the police simply refused to co-operate. Witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal stated that the police used the names of the areas to deliberately mislead people by saying that since Gayatrinagar and Sundaramnagar are populated by Hindus (which is untrue) and therefore not safe. Whenever victim-survivors called for help, the police responded by saying that no Muslims lived in Gayatrinagar and Sundaramnagar anyway. Two-and-a-half months down the line, victim-survivors had still not been given a safe passage to their homes. The Tribunal paid a field visit to the areas. Their homes had been burnt or destroyed and the little there was left had been looted.
A victim-survivor from Barasaanche Ki Chawl, identified as Gulam Rasool Qureshi, named Dilip, paan shopowner, who lives in the police lines and has a paan shop next to MRG Mills and Raju ‘chanawala’ as leaders from the 10-15,000 strong mob. A man in the mob caught hold of this witness’ son, after which a policeman fired at his chest. He was 22 years old. The police report mentions that he died in the rioting but it does not mention how he died — that he was shot at.
Eyewitness Farid Khan Abdul Wahid Khan saw a 15-16-year-old boy being shot in the chest after his arm had been cut off brutally. This took place on February 28. He said that when he went to Civil Hospital, Sola, there were mobs of Bajrang Dal and RSS people. This was at 3.30 a.m. on March 1. This witness stated that he saw 400-500 corpses including a 13-month-old baby and they had been very badly burnt. He stated that there were about 100 innocent children amongst them.
Pathetic tales of brutal victimisation were detailed here. A witness, Fakir Ahmed, and his sister Jannatben, the latter unmarried and both handicapped used to run a business in the area. Both were victims of indiscriminate firing, after which the mob burnt his sister alive in Chartoda Kabrastan. She was about 42 years old. The post-mortem report of this victim said, "shock due to burns". The witness was saved because someone picked him up and ran. Their home was destroyed.
Mohammed Abdul Qureshi, who testified before the Tribunal, lost his 23-year-old brother, Mohammed Ishaq, who was shot at close range. This happened on March 1. Mohammed Ishaq was standing when the mob came; the police were with them. The police point that was there for their protection was used, instead, to fire at them. Mohammed Ishaq’s post-mortem report said, "injury in right lung." The witness managed to run away and thus escaped with his life intact. They were residents of Pannalal Chawl, Rm. 42.
When the Tribunal met them in May, victim-survivors from the area were afraid to go back to their homes, because when they did, they were still repeatedly pelted with stones and threatened. Many homes have been completely destroyed. When one boy tried to go back, he was hit on the head with a big stone. Residents did try to go back 5-6 times, but later abandoned all thoughts about returning to their homes. Even the women refused to return. The police version was that the people of the chawl had attacked, whereas actually the mob came with swords and bombs to the chawl and attacked the residents.
Witness Hanifa Bano from Nagori Chawl (20 years) was enraged and agitated when she deposed before the Tribunal because her family’s home had been destroyed completely and a temple had been built in its place. They cannot go back now. Ironically, their home was opposite the police station. Hanifa identified assailants from the area such as Manoj, Suresh Pithawala and his two brothers, Manoj and Duriya—their shop was right opposite the witness’. Hanifa’s family has the only Muslim shop in the area. She stated that when they were caught by the rampaging mobs, they threatened that they would kill them. Verbal abuse was used to terrorise the victims.
In her deposition, Alifa Bano, wife of Mohammed Sultan, told the Tribunal that two mobs came and attacked them where they lived, just opposite the Gomtipur police station. One man had a band tied to his forehead and he stabbed the witness with a knife from the back. They raped the witness’ daughter and used such foul language that was "difficult for decent people to repeat." They torched the witness’ house in front of her eyes. The police van was standing there but when they called for help, the police just drove away. And they lived just opposite Gomtipur police station. The fire brigade was also there, but they, too, did not help the victim-survivors, who had been living there for 8 years. The witness stated that this was the first time that their neighbours had behaved badly with them, they had never behaved like this before. Two temples have since been built where the witness’ house-cum-shop stood.
Several witnessess from Rajpur Toll Naka, Gomtipur, including Sabbirbhai Allarakha and Rashidabehn Gulam Nabi, complained bitterly of the behaviour of the RAF (Rapid Action Force) and PSI Modi, who used abusive terms towards the Muslim residents of Gomtipur. Rashidabehn said that even in mid-May when they tried to go back to their homes, they were threatened by knife-wielding youths. They had written such foul things about her on the doors of their homes, and on the walls, that the witness found it difficult to repeat the abuse. In this area, vile sexual abuse was evident all through. Rashidabehn’s house was looted and burnt on February 28. Mobs have completely destroyed all 70 houses in Parmanand Chawl.
Naseembano Munnabhai Sheradi, aged 35, was widowed when she lost her husband in the police firing on February 28. She has 6 children, of whom the eldest, a daughter, is 14 years old. Her husband heard the mob, so he went to look for the children. Both the gates of the graveyard (Chartoda Kabrastan) were closed at the time. The police came in and started firing. The witness has lost her means of support. Her house is still standing. She showed the Tribunal, the notes from her husband’s pocket along with his diary, which were torn and blood-soaked. The police pumped three bullets into him.
Irfan Sultanbhai, a victim-survivor living at Maniarwada Toll Naka, stated that on April 21, he was attacked by a mob from three sides. The police helped the mob by breaking down the gates, by ramming their jeep into them. They came into the house and broke the TV and other things and pulled out one of his sons, took him to the terrace and shot him. This witness could identify one Navnit, who is a constable, who was with them but he could not say exactly who had shot at his son. It was the army who pointed out to the family, that there was a dead man on the terrace. The police did not make a panchnama, nor did they write a report, they just took him away. The victim’s name was Mehboobbhai Sultanbhai and he was 23 years old. He was shot right in the centre of the head. The plight of the victim’s family and the terror generated by the mobs and the police can be gauged by the witness’ response to police orders that he should accompany his son’s dead body to the Civil Hospital at Sola. The witness, father of the dead youth, said it was too dangerous for him to go there, and that Vadilal Hospital was better. The callous police insisted that the father accompany them to Sola. The witness said that at the hospital he was surrounded by a rampaging mob but fortunately he escaped. (See sub-section in Consequences — Communalisation of Public Space, Volume II.)
Similarly, the Tribunal recorded the testimonies of 25 witnesses whose close family members had been shot dead by the police. (See Annexures 8-9, Police Statistics–Volume I.) At least 12 persons who deposed before the Tribunal were eyewitnesses to the atrocious and clearly illegal behaviour of the Gomtipur police. There were testimonies that stated again and again that about 12 policemen, all in blue clothes (the RAF uniform) and four ‘D’ staff (constables), with PSI Modi, were the main assailants. In Gomtipur the first brutal assaults took place on February 28, after which there were fresh attacks on April 5 and April 21.
One witness, Sirajkhan Babukhan Pathan from the Barasaanche Chawl, Gomtipur, was witness to point blank shooting by the police that killed many innocent Muslims on March 1.
On that day, as he ran to save his life when the attacks occurred, he saw the prone body of a man, Mohammed Alibhai. Thinking he was dead, the witness picked up the body and brought him to the madrassa, when he noticed that the man was still alive. He had been shot in the head. A bit further, he saw Shariefbhai, a young boy, who had a bullet-hole in his stomach. When the police saw him trying to help the injured boy, they started abusing him saying, "Miyan, where are you going?" Then a person from the crowd insisted that he say, "Jai Siyaram." The witness said that this person was not a policeman, he was an RSS man, with a tilak and big moustache. He beat the witness up for three hours, then after swearing at him told him to go.
Witnesses stated clearly that while some of the deaths caused by shooting were from bullets fired by the police, there were equal or more instances of persons being shot dead in private firings. One policeman from the Ajit Mill chowki, Gayatrinagar, under Bapunagar police station, who was involved in firing, had removed his name tag (billa), and his belt. Otherwise, he was in uniform. Many were wearing helmets so that their faces were covered and could not be easily identified by the victim-survivors. However, witnesses were clear that they could identify some of these people if given the chance. A point worthy of mention is that policemen from the Bapunagar station, which covers this area, didn’t do anything here. Witnesses stated that the personnel of different police stations stepped outside their jurisdictions and committed atrocities. The Bapunagar police went to Amraiwadi and the Amraiwadi police came to Bapunagar. Amraiwadi police went to commit atrocities in Khanwadi in the Vatwa area, which should actually have had policemen from Ramol (GIDC). It was a deliberate attempt to ensure that people would not be able to recognise them as local policemen. The witnesses here asserted this trend with confidence, saying that the policemen from Bapunagar, whom they were familiar with — Barot sa’ab, Patel sa’ab, Ashokji etc.— they could have named and identified. This appears to have been a strategy of the policemen here.
In Ramol, a railway employee called Rafiqbhai Mohammed Hanif — a relative of one of the witnesses — was stopped by the police on his way back from duty. He showed them his identification and told them that he was returning home from work but they shot him. It was the Amraiwadi police who shot him, when, in fact, the area is under Vatwa jurisdiction; the PI there is PI Chauhan. It was the Amraiwadi police who were covering that area at that time.
It was the same story when there was a bomb-blast in this locality just four days before the Tribunal visited the area. Witnesses saw that, while some armed policemen were patrolling the area, some miscreants rode up on a Yamaha motorcycle, threw the bomb and drove off. When residents tried to draw the police’s attention to this, the officer at the police station told them that he had seen the sparks (chingari) coming from their side, that they had themselves set it off. Witnesses also testified that following this, policemen from the Odhav division entered the masjid in Bapunagar with their shoes on, arrested some of the people and went off. These were policemen from Odhav division, when this area falls within the jurisdiction of Bapunagar police station.
The number of illegal detentions from this area of Ahmedabad alone, warrant special investigation. The thrust of the evidence collected from many victim-survivors indicated that, before the massacre at Godhra took place, there was nothing wrong with the atmosphere in the area. It was after the Godhra massacre and the subsequent call for a Bandh that the trouble started. People felt that though there may have been planning for the attacks in advance, no discernible signs to disrupt peace were visible. It was after the Godhra massacre that the attackers chalked out a plan, and then started attacking Muslims. The call for the Bandh was supported by the government, which itself is against the law. They felt that newspapers like Gujarat Samachar and Sandesh too played a vital role in the violence. Their reportage, the photographs and articles they carried, were extremely inflammatory and incited people to violence. And the news coverage in Sandesh continued to be very inflammatory right up to the day of the Tribunal’s visit. Victim-survivors felt that this was not a communal riot, it was a massacre of Muslims. A communal riot implied that there were attacks on people from both communities. If it had been a communal riot, they said, the properties of both Hindus and Muslims would have been attacked but the Hindu properties were not touched —Muslims did not attack them, yet they kept on saying that Godhra was part of a planned massacre by Muslims.
As one witness said, "Even today, leaders from the VHP go on saying that people from the Muslim community in our area are terrorists. It is they who are not allowing peace to return. They keep referring to Muslims as terrorists or Pakistanis. They are the ones who kill Muslims, who attack Muslims and then they demonise Muslims."
One of the most disturbing aspects of the violence on victims in Sundaramnagar and Gomtipur were the severity of burn injuries on their person. One victim-survivor who deposed before the Tribunal, Shaikh Ismail Dosumiya, was in a pitiable situation, with 38 per cent burn injuries. He said that on March 1, there was rioting and stone-throwing in Gayatrinagar. The mobs were throwing stones and in defence, residents of Gayatrinagar were throwing stones back at them. During this, the mob also threw acid bottles and gas bottles at them and 7 persons, including the witness, were burnt. In that terribly burnt condition, he then walked from Gayatrinagar to the Maidan nearby. This was at 11.30 a.m. on March 1. The police was nowhere to be seen. The attackers carried many weapons, dharias (sickles), guptis and private (privately owned) guns. There was a lot of firing in which many youths were hit by bullets.
After having retired from the Indian army, this witness had a job in the security services department of Indian Airlines, but had not been to work since this brutal burning two months earlier. He was in VS Hospital for 45 days. At the hospital, there were some initial problems regarding payment of the deposit amount of Rs. 2,000 and procurement of medicines but they were sorted out. Besides that, there was no trouble with his treatment there. A police case was registered at the VS Hospital itself. Though the police had recorded his statement, he had not received a copy of his FIR. This witness said he could not identify anyone in the mob. He said however that the mob was huge, there were a lot of people, about 10,000 stretching from the Maidan to CTM. He lived at the Sundaramnagar Maidan, opposite the camp. There are about 3,000-3,500 Muslim houses with about 10,000 residents in the area. Of these, about 400-500 houses have been burnt although no survey has been done so far.
The plight of this victim, who could barely stand before the Tribunal because of his wounds, was tragic. He was clad in thin underpants due to the severe burns on his skin. He was in severe discomfort. He could not walk in the sun for if he did, he felt dizzy and his body burnt. He had received no compensation. This witness was one of those who met President Abdul Kalam when he visited Ahmedabad at the Haj House Camp. Cringing at his plight, the President had assured him enough funds for his complete treatment in the presence of CM Modi.
Another tragic case was that of Shaikh Guddu Shamsuddin (23) who had lost his voice due to a wound from a bullet fired into his throat/neck in the course of police firing on March 1. He had had extensive surgery and a plastic tube had been inserted into his neck. As a result of the injury, he also lost his ability to speak and even after medical treatment, his voice was practically a whisper. The witness spoke to the Tribunal with great difficulty, describing the events of March 1 in detail. He is a machine painter and between 9.30-10 a.m. that morning, he was walking towards Gayatrinagar when he saw 4 policemen standing there with their rifles cocked. Behind the policemen, was a car, a Tata car (No. 407) and crouched behind the car, was a mob. Frightened, he turned away and started shouting for help and that was when the police shot him. They looked like local police. They shot him with a "long rifle", a .303. He didn’t recognise anyone in the mob because they were behind the car. The witness said that he had been lucky to escape from the mob. He said that the police, who were facing him when they fired, had fired at him so that he would not call to other Muslims for help. They deliberately targeted his throat so that he could not shout for help. They shot him through the neck and his windpipe (nalli) was ruptured, as a result of which he lost a lot of blood. He managed to take a few steps and then collapsed. It was then that some Muslims from nearby came and picked him up and took him to safety. By that time, he was unconscious.
He said that since it was not safe to go to VS Hospital at the time, he was first taken to Al Amin Hospital and then later moved to VS Hospital. On the way to Al Amin, too, there were attempts to stop the vehicle, a tent had been put up to barricade the road and miscreants were throwing stones. Here, too, the police opened fire, and injured 2 youths. The Al Amin ambulance driver was also hurt. In the hospital, the surgeons did a graft using flesh from the chest. A hole was made in the neck so that he could speak in a whisper and that was how members of the Tribunal could hear him. The victim had no complaint about his treatment at the hospital.
The Tribunal met several victims of burns and bullet injuries who had barely escaped with their lives and for whom no provisions have been made for payment of compensation. One Mohammed Naim sustained a bullet wound through the side (in the waist), in police firing on March 1. He was fired at by policemen who drove up, and trained their rifles on the Muslims of Gayatrinagar (stationing themselves at what witnesses described as the ‘border’ near the Industrial estate), while the Hindu mob continued their attack relentlessly. It was as if the policemen were the rear and front guards of the mobs, making it possible for the targets to be found.
That morning (March 1), 6 people were injured in police firing. Witnesses said that they did nothing to warrant the police firing. They recognised one of the policemen, Bhupendran Gadvi, D Staff, No. 2022, Rakhial Police Station, and another who was also a Gadvi, but whose full name they didn’t know.
Mohammed Yasin Ansari, a burn victim with 57 per cent burns, also from acid thrown, told the Tribunal that for the first 3 days at VS Hospital, he was not given any treatment. No one from his family could come to the hospital because of the prevailing situation. After 13 days in VS hospital, of the 20-22 burn victims admitted to their ward, this witness said that only 3 remained alive. This was an example of the callous treatment that the VS hospital was giving Muslim patients. This witness said that he was afraid that he would meet with the same fate and came home. He insisted that, at the VS Hospital, treatment was being given, but those patients who were given blood, died. He said that even when he was given the first bottle of blood, his condition worsened, he was unable to move his arms and legs and stopped speaking, so he decided to leave the hospital. He was in severe discomfort when the Tribunal recorded evidence in the scorching heat of May. Though his doctor had advised that he should be readmitted to the hospital, this witness was reluctant to do so, terrified at the treatment he might receive there.
Ghulamhussain Ali Hussain was another burn injuries victim-survivor who had suffered 25 per cent burns, had been in hospital for one and a half months and who, together with his entire family, had been without work or earning for that period.
Many witnesses made strong statements about the lack of payment of compensation for injured persons, saying that they should get at least 40 per cent of the amount given for loss of life. They said that the government had not provided for compensation, either for the disabled or the injured, and had not responded to injuries and disability caused in this carnage. They said that after the earthquake in 2001, the same Gujarat government had announced that persons with up to 40 per cent disability would receive Rs. 50,000 but for the carnage no such compensation had been given to the victims.
Witness Fakruddin Imamuddin Ansari (23) was shot point blank in his ribs and was rendered without livelihood for 2 months thereafter. He had received nothing from the government. He was a daily wage earner who did machine embroidery, and also had a family grocery shop, which was also burnt. Women from Sone Ki Chawl suffered severe injuries in the stone throwing.
The Tribunal recorded with interest the eyewitness testimony of Mohan Bundela of Jan Sangharsh Manch, which has been lodged as an FIR with the Gomtipur Police.
"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 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...." (See Annexure FIR Against Police -- Detailed Annexures Volume 3.)
Witness Shaikh Mohd Salim said that on April 21, just 10 days before the Tribunal visited, in Maniarwada, fearing assault and detention when the attack came, the men ran away and only women remained there. The police pulled out a boy from one house and shot him dead. They had a lot of trouble breaking down the witness’ main gate and they broke it by ramming into it with a jeep. This was done by men wearing blue clothes and ‘D’ staff. Acid bombs were thrown at the Muslims.
The same day, opposite Amrapalli, in another part of Gomtipur, a police constable was killed. In an obvious retaliation, the police, taking advantage of the curfew in Maniarwada, shot dead Mehboobbhai Ibrahim who was the father of four small children. An innocent man was killed for nothing. He had stepped out for some relaxation and was taken upstairs and shot. Maniarwada had been unaffected before this.
There was a ghastly incident in Abasna village, Detaroj taluka, of Ahmedabad district on the night of April 1 and 2, (i.e., on the eve of Prime Minister Vajpayee’s visit to Gujarat) when 5 family members of the Ghanchi family living there were brutally hacked to death in their sleep. Ibrahim Ismailbhai Ghanchi (38), who lost his father, Ismailbhai (56), his brother Karim (22), his uncle, Dawoodbhai (53) and his cousins, Noor Jahan (22) and Deen Mohammed (17), deposed before the Tribunal on May 4. Another uncle who was injured was admitted to the hospital but he died the day before the witness’ deposition. Ibrahim Ghanchi lost six family members in one brutal attack. The witness, who lived at Kalol, and was an employee of the ONGC, had served in the Indian army for 17 years. His family had lived in the village of Abasna for generations, and owned 45 acres of land there. This was the lone extended Muslim family in the village (three nuclear families and one joint family) — living among Patels, Rajputs, Darbars and Brahmins.
Soon after the Godhra incident, fearing trouble, the family had shifted to Kalol for a whole month. At that time, the same people who later killed members of his family had come and persuaded his father to return to the village. The family returned to Abasna on March 31, and they were attacked at midnight on April 2-3. A group of villagers led by Metaji Diwanji Darbar, first slaughtered the unsuspecting victims and then burnt them as well as the house. His mother and his aunt sustained injuries but managed to escape through the back door. The sarpanch called the police at Sarkhej, Ahmedabad and DSP Rai, DySP Ravi Patel, inspector Rajni Patel and PI Chauhan took the injured to hospital.
The witness’ mother had a deep gash on her forehead and had also got a fracture. His uncle, who later succumbed to his injuries, had a cut on his head, a fractured skull and arm, as well as a sword wound on the neck. The witness was informed of the ghastly incident while on duty at Kalol. He went to the police station in Kalol, and took police protection to go to Abasna. There, he saw his father’s corpse lying at the entrance to their home. A post-mortem examination had already been done right there. Then the police took him to the house, which was burnt, and he saw the other corpses. The witness took the corpses to the cemetery on the highway and buried them according to Muslim custom.
The next day he went to the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad where he met his aunt. On the fourth day, he returned to Abasna, collected what was left of their possessions and returned to Ahmedabad.
The witness said that Sandesh carried a story after the ghastly massacre, saying that Ismail and Dawood — the witness’ father and uncle — were killed because they had been harassing girls. The witness was outraged at such irresponsible reporting, which tried blatantly to suggest that this was a case of personal vendetta and had nothing to do with communalism. The witness was angry that his father and uncle, who had been killed, were being maligned thus. He said that they were a well-respected family. They had lived in the village for 250 years. The witness’ mother was a member of the local panchayat. The witness asked, pertinently, whether the villagers would have allowed them, the only Muslim family, to stay in Abasna for so long, whether his mother would have been allowed to continue as a member of the panchayat, if family members had behaved as suggested in Sandesh?
The witness stated that his plight was pitiful, that at present he could not even vote since all his papers had been destroyed in the fire. He had no proof that he had served in the army. He said that, in future, he might even be accused of being a terrorist since he had virtually no proof of prior existence. He had retired from the army and he feared that if he applied for a new job, he might be told that he could not get one because he was a Muslim.
The witness told the Tribunal that the journal Communalism Combat had arranged to take him to Delhi, where he had met the President of India on April 27. He had spoken to the President about his 17-year-service in the army, of which 13 had been spent in the field. He said that he had asked for President’s rule to be imposed in Gujarat. He said that 45 acres of family property in Abasna was at stake and that his children’s schooling was now endangered since the same forces of venom were targeting schools as well and that it was not safe for him to return to his village, where the family home had been burnt. The police arrested about 25 persons — the main culprit being Metaji Diwanji Darbar, who had led people into several criminal actions in the past. Other villagers had also filed FIRs detailing the facts about this incident and naming the accused.
The first instance of communal attack on the 50-odd Muslims in Kuha village, Daskroi taluka, had occurred in 1992. They were pelted with stones and they had been forced to leave the village. The 300 families of Patels were in the forefront of that attack. At the time, most of the Muslims in Kuha worked as labourers while about 4-5 families owned a small patch of land. But over the years, some of them have set up small kiosks and others earn a living as drivers.
Around 1 p.m. on February 28, , a mob led by the husband of the sarpanch, a Patel, attacked the Muslim houses. There are 2 major castes in the village, Patels and Thakors, but Thakors did not participate in the attack. As the attack started, most Muslims fled to the fields, while some others took refuge in the house of a panchayat member, Laxmiben Dabhi. Ahmed Husain Sayyed was unable to flee in time, and he hid in his house. He was thus witness to all that happened in Kuha, where 19 Muslim houses were burnt and belongings looted from the rest.
The Muslims stayed in the fields for 9 days, and through all these days, Laxmiben Dabhi organised food for them. Once it was safe to move, the people organised two vehicles and reached the relief camp at Bapunagar in Ahmedabad city. A complaint was given to the police but a copy, acknowledging receipt, was not provided to the complainants. Nor was a copy of the panchnama provided. Ahmed Hussain and his two brothers used the visit of the NHRC team as an opportunity to get their complaint filed.
On 13 April, Laxmiben came to the Bapunagar relief camp as an emissary of the Hindus of the village, to make a deal with the Muslim families: They should withdraw the complaint in which they had named the assailants and only then were they welcome to come back to reside in the village. The three brothers, who had officially complained, were not to be permitted into the village. Ahmed Hussain stated that although he wished to bring the guilty to justice, if other Muslim were to tell him to withdraw the complaint due to pressure from the villagers, he would do so.
Por village, Gandhinagar taluka, Gandhinagar district, has about 70 Muslim families and about 500-600 families of Thakors, Patels, Harijans, Bagris, Ravals and Chamars. The deputy sarpanch of the village was a Muslim. Muslims had supported Thakors in the last panchayat election.
On February 28, the sarpanch told the Muslims of the village that they need not worry, nothing would happen to Muslims in this village. On March 1, at about 2.15 p.m., just after the afternoon prayers, a large mob from at least 9 neighbouring villages and led by Patels from Por, attacked the Muslims. They were armed with kerosene, diesel and gas cylinders. They destroyed and burnt Muslim houses, a mosque as well as the dargah. A bore-well, which was the only source of water for Muslim houses and fields, was completely destroyed. The mob also attacked and injured a number of persons, including Shakinaben, Hanifbhai and Fatimabibi. Village shopkeepers provided kersosene to the attackers and the Patels of the village, including women, pelted stones on the fleeing Muslims. The attackers caught hold of the maulana and beat him up. The police inspector from Adalaj police station, PI Jhala reached the village shortly after the mob arrived, but instead of helping the local Muslims, he ordered them to leave immediately.
The collector IS Haider, and the DDO Brahmbhatt, reached the village while the attack was still in progress. They offered the Muslims protection, and helped them escape by getting onto the 3 tempos owned by the Muslim villagers themselves. However, the third tempo did not start. In panic, people got down from that tempo and clambered onto the other 2 tempos. Three women, who had already sustained injuries during the attack, and 3 children died due to suffocation. They were dead by the time the tempos reached Adalaj police station.
Only one FIR was lodged in the Por village incident (no. 44/2002 in Adalaj PS
u/s 147/148/149/436/395/135 Bombay Police Act). The same PI Jhala, who had done nothing to prevent the attack, lodged this FIR. Since he was also the investigating officer into the incident, the victims had little hope of an unbiased investigation. The FIR did not contain the names of the attackers.
Later, the witnesses named 95 Patels in the 4 complaints that they gave to the PS and other authorities. In spite of this, not a single Patel had been arrested until mid-April. There had been at least 23 arrests in the case but all of people belonging to lower caste Thakkars, Vaghris, and Rawals, who were involved in the looting after the Muslims had fled but were not the actual attackers. The villagers had also sent complaints and appealed to numerous higher authorities but had not received any response. The displaced victims were living in the Mandali relief camp, or with relatives at various other places.
PI Jhala was directly indicted for conniving with the attackers, by not taking any action at the time of attack, by leaving out the attackers’ names in the FIR and later, for joining the attackers in pressurising the victims to withdraw their complaint.
Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace