The Tribunal recorded the evidence of 53
witnesses from Bharuch district of which 18 pertained to Bharuch city. The
written statements of 29 other witnesses were also placed before the
Tribunal. Violence erupted in Bharuch city from the morning of February
28, 2002. The Tribunal recorded testimonies from many of the
victim-survivors on May 13 at Ankleshwar. The attacks within Bharuch city
were characterised by massive destruction of Muslim properties and
businesses, targeting of Muslim homes, terrorising Muslim populations into
fleeing and a clear and close nexus between the police and the criminals
belonging to the VHP/RSS/BD/BJP. The nexus was apparent in the open
sloganeering of the VHP’s Bharuch president, Viral Desai, which was
telecast on the local Narmada channel on February 28: "Yeh andar
ki baat hai, Police hamare saath hai" ("The inside story is, The
police are with us in this"). The local police did not seem to think a
denial or contradiction was in order. Desai was named by many witnesses as
leading the mobs that indulged in loot and arson, in many cases during
curfew hours. The blatantly communal behaviour of the Home Guards, who
accompanied the local police and shot dead local Muslims, was also part of
the pattern noted in the district.
At 8 a.m. on February 28, Sayeed Ahmed
Mohammed Pathan, a businessman from Bharuch who deposed before the
Tribunal, was informed by one of his employees that his fancy garments’
showroom was being set on fire. The latter rushed to ask for police
assistance. When he spoke to PI Buch of the ‘B’ Division, the reply he got
shocked him: "We cannot help you. If you need help take some Muslim people
with you and save your shops. We don’t have policemen for your
protection." This despite the fact that, at the time, there were 400-500
policemen present. The witness thereafter contacted the DSP, Manoj Antani,
who was reasonably prompt. However, Pathan’s shop was not saved; the
estimated damage being Rs. 22 lakh. The shop was burnt and destroyed by a
mob led by Desai of the VHP and another Bajrang Dal leader.
The mob broke open the showroom, trashed
the place, and sprinkled some chemicals before torching the place. Some of
the arson was shown on TV. The mobs who were attacking shops belonging to
prosperous Muslims carried a detailed list with them. The Keo Fashion shop
was the next to be targeted by the mob. Thereafter, other Muslim-owned
shops were also selectively burnt: China Saree, Labella Emporium, Golden
Shoes, Peter England, etc. In all, about 40-45 Muslim-owned shops and
showrooms all over Bharuch were destroyed in such a manner — even the RCC
slabs had cracked — that it could take up to six months to rebuild. With
no help from the state government or from financial institutions – banks,
insurance companies – the affected businessmen were completely helpless.
Many witnesses who deposed before the
Tribunal, showed the panel remnants of a chemical powder that was used to
ignite their establishments. Besides being armed with trishuls and
swords, some in the mob also carried big cans of petrol, kerosene, packets
of the powder and implements to force open closed premises.
The witnesses, testifying two months
after the violence, said that the atmosphere in Bharuch was still
vitiated. A prominent businessman, who requested anonymity, said he was in
no position to resume his business. There had been no compensation from
the government; and no insurance claims had been passed; so no repairs had
been carried out. This witness lost Rs. 15 lakh worth of stock and Rs. 6
lakh worth of furniture; miscellaneous damages added up to another Rs. 1
lakh. His showroom, opened only two-and-a-half years ago, was inaugurated
with much fanfare and publicity. Though his total losses amounted to Rs.
22 lakh, because of the high premium, insurance was only for Rs. 9.5 lakh.
Investigations relating to his insurance claims were on when the Tribunal
recorded this witnesses’ evidence. He complained bitterly of the offensive
attitude of the Oriental Insurance Company. Though a police complaint was
filed, no action had been taken against the marauders.
Witnesses from different parts of
Bharuch city named the VHP’s Viral Desai as one of the main instigators of
the mobs. Many people had watched him on TV on the night of February 28,
publicly declaring his intention to defy the law, and openly challenging
the police. He said they (VHP) had warned the police that if they tried to
stop them, "We would reply with bricks and stones." Peace-loving citizens
of Bharuch were aghast, watching Desai shouting slogans and challenging
the police in front of TV cameras, while a whole bunch of policemen
standing around him said or did nothing. What’s more, Desai and his
supporters brandished unsheathed swords at the time. This episode,
telecast by local TV channels, was seen on Citi Channel, by a
witness who deposed before the Tribunal. Despite Desai’s incitement of,
and direct involvement in, serious crimes, the police FIR did not list him
among the accused. Panchnamas were prepared by the police on their
own without calling the witnesses.
On March 1, soon after the afternoon
namaaz, stone throwing started in another part of Bharuch, Barelikho.
Witnesses from this area who deposed before the Tribunal said that
throughout March, they received phone calls every night, telling Muslims
that their locality would be burnt down. Because of the terror so created,
80 per cent of the 150 Muslim families living there and another 90
families living in an adjacent area fled to safety. Even as late as May,
just two days prior to the Tribunal’s visit to Bharuch, threats had been
issued to residents of Barelikho to vacate the locality.
(Several witnesses pointed to the close
nexus between the police and the local cable TV channels. Whenever the
police were called to an area where trouble broke out, the TV crew would
be there even before the police arrived. This was especially true of
another local channel, the Narmada channel.)
The area was attacked on four different
occasions, always at night, while curfew was in force. How the police
allowed huge mobs to assemble, defying curfew, is a moot question. On the
last occasion, the locality was targeted in the presence of the police.
The gang leaders of the mob belonged to the VHP/BD, which have their
shakhas (cells) in nearby areas and operate without any hindrance.
Most Muslims from Barelikho and the
neighbourhood had run away fearing further attacks, harassment and arrests
by the police. Despite written complaints, police took no action. On the
other hand, the Tribunal noted the illegal detention of 14 Muslims by the
police and their violent and offensive behaviour with Muslim women.
One witness, Irfan Lakdawala from the
Barelikho area of Bharuch, gave a searing testimony concerning the
violence on February 28, when shops were looted, broken and burnt at Panch
Batti. He said that he saw Muslim shops being broken into, literally in
front of the eyes of the collector, Anju Sharma and the DSP Bharuch, Manoj
Antani. They sat there without a care in the world, eating cashews and
almonds from a dry-fruit store that was being looted and destroyed along
with about 25 other shops. He said that the incident was telecast live on
the local Narmada channel. Lakdawala made a fervent plea before the
Tribunal regarding the location of the collector’s office and the
mamlatdar’s office, both of which had been deliberately moved to a
Hindu-predominant part of the city a few months earlier, to deny Muslims
easy access to these government functionaries. He applauded the conduct of
PI Ajit Shinde, who was punitively moved out of this locality for his
impartial behaviour. Another witness, Munir Ahmed Pathan, complained about
PI GM Chawda, who repeatedly told Muslims that they did not have the right
to live in ‘Hindustan’.
The testimony of a vegetable vendor from
Bahar Ki Undai detailed the blatantly partisan role of the Home Guards. At
about 1 p.m. on March 19, 2002, a mob of over 5,000 descended on the area.
They had come with policemen and Home Guards, and the latter opened fire
on the Muslims in the locality. A bullet fired by Home Guard Bharat
Sunderlal Bhatia killed a Muslim youth, Syed Sirajuddin Jibbo. Another
witness present at the hearing of the Tribunal lost his wife, Najma in the
firing. She was killed by a bullet fired by another Home Guard, Deepak
Samardas Rana. Shabbir Khan, who was injured in the same firing, also
appeared before the Tribunal. The killers were part of a small contingent
of Home Guards, who advanced towards the Muslims living in Undai from the
direction of Dandiya Bazaar. The advancing mob was literally provided
cover by these guardians of the law.
Rana, who was posted at a police point
in Gaulipur, resides in Dandiya Bazaar, a little distance away from Undai.
He was stationed at a police point about 200 metres away from Undai. He
left his point to lead the mobs against Muslims in Undai. While Rana fired
at the Muslims, the mob following him pelted stones. No one from the mob
This witness (the vegetable vendor)
testified to the shocking behaviour of the DSP. He said that Antani
ordered the breaking down of doors of Muslim homes and picked up 16 youth
from the area. The arrested youths, who were still under detention when
the Tribunal visited Bharuch, were regularly beaten, the witnesses
complained. While hiding from the rampaging police, the witness heard DSP
Antani say, "Yeh sab kshan Muslim hain, unko jala do aur khakh kar do!"
("These Muslims are filthy people, burn them to ashes").
The second round of violence took place
in Bharuch on March 18-19, 2002. (The city had not returned to normal even
when the Tribunal visited it in May). One witness who deposed before the
Tribunal gave details of how on the morning of March 18, a crowd of about
50-70 people assembled at Bhupendra Manilal Gandhi’s house in Chhipad
Galli. Fifteen minutes later, the armed mob emerged from his house and
attacked the Taiba mosque, about 100 metres away.
Another witness, Muzzamil Khan Pathan,
(62), a businessman from Haji Khana Bazaar, also testified before the
Tribunal. According to him, in the second round of violence, on March 19,
a mob of 4-5,000 came to the Haji Khana mosque at 1 p.m. in the afternoon
and started heavy stone pelting. The mob included Viral Desai, one Darbar
and his wife. Darbar, who carried a revolver and a sword, was shouting, "Musalman
ko maro, kato, sab ke ghar jala do!" ("Kill the Muslims! Cut them up!
Burn all their homes!"). From here the mob proceeded to Undai, accompanied
by the police (led by PI Chawda), whom they had brought with them. They
went to the house of the trustee of the mosque and demanded that the
Muslim boys be handed over. When he denied that there were any boys in his
house, they pulled his beard and Desai threatened to rip it off. The same
mob then went to the Hindu-predominant Bahar ki Undai locality and
attacked Muslims living there.
"Even though our locality (Haji Khana
Bazaar) was peaceful at the time, the DySP Harikrishna Patel, who arrived
later, abused us a lot, ordered the breaking down of doors to our houses
and took away our boys. He locked us inside our houses and went away." The
seven Muslim youths who were arrested that day were still under detention
two months later, when the Tribunal visited the city. They have been
charged under section 307 (attempt to murder) even though in this
Muslim-predominant area, no Hindu shop was looted or burnt, no one was
injured. When witness Imtiaz Pathan went to get them released, he was told
that the youths were being charged under sec. 144. The VHP leader, Desai,
who was there with magistrate Trivedi, threatened Pathan for trying to get
the boys released. Pathan believes that Desai influenced the police and
the magistracy into altering the charge against the detained youths, from
the relatively harmless sec. 144 (unlawful assembly) to sec. 307.
Several applications were filed for the
release of the boys, including one in the Gujarat High Court but, because
they were booked under sec. 307, even the High Court had refused to order
their release. The charges have been slapped on 23 Muslims in all — 16
from Bahar Ki Undai and 7 from Haji Khana Bazaar. Youths from the two
different localities were clubbed together and named in the same FIR even
though there is a sizeable distance between the two localities – you have
to pass through areas/localities to get from one to the other. DSP Antani,
DySP Harikrishna Patel and PI Chawda were all subsequently transferred.
Other witnesses from different areas in
Bharuch, who deposed before the Tribunal, spoke of Muslims being
terrorised by the Sangh Parivar cadre in their respective
localities. One such witness spoke of Muslims from Kharvawad being
targeted for six weeks by corporators and other members of the BJP/RSS/VHP/BD.
Muslim homes were stoned every night to simply not let the minority areas
be in peace. Ranjan Mistry, Champak Mistry, and Satish Mistry (a
corporator and a Bajrang Dal/RSS man) were identified as the main
Many areas of Bharuch were traumatised
in this fashion for weeks after the Godhra tragedy.A recurring complaint
from many victims from Bharuch who deposed before the Tribunal was the
misconduct of the Home Guards. One witness said that on the one hand ‘RSS
people’ had joined the police service, including at the lowest level of
Home Guards, with a definite intent. On the other hand, sure of police
complicity, while attacking Muslims, even those not in service had simply
donned the uniform of police constables or Home Guards. The witnesses
detailed how at the RSS and Bajrang Dal shakhas in the
neighbourhood, secret meetings were held daily and training given in the
use of lathis. Following this, its members took out processions,
brandishing arms and shouting slogans like, "Finish off the descendants of
Babar, send them to Pakistan or Kabrastan (graveyard)!"
All this terrifies the minority
community and heightens their feeling of insecurity. One witness said, "We
have been hearing things like this for years now, especially on
Vijayalakshmi Divas, when the RSS takes out processions, openly carries
weapons and raises anti-Muslim slogans. The number of members at their
shakhas is increasing. They have started inciting Harijans, Adivasis
and OBCs also. Should not the police be doing something about this?"
Immediately after the Godhra tragedy,
there were several peace committee meetings and Sadbhavna (communal
harmony) meetings in different parts of the town, to pre-empt any violence
in Ankleshwar town. Some BJP leaders also attended these meetings.
However, every evening there would be an attack on some Muslim shop or
establishment. A consistent complaint of the witnesses before the Tribunal
was that the police did not register complaints, and on occasions even
alleged that Muslims had done this themselves.
Between March 1 and April 4, 2002, about
45 Muslim-owned shops and homes or properties, including handcarts and
cabins, were targeted in this manner. They were first looted, then burnt.
Unlike elsewhere in Gujarat, most incidents of violence in Ankleshwar town
did not involve mobs. At work, instead, was a small group of 5-7 men who
moved around on two-wheelers carrying petrol, fireballs (kankda)
and water-pistols (pichkaris, for spraying kerosene). Their targets
were Muslim-owned shops in Hindu-predominant areas.
Witnesses who deposed before the
Tribunal named 5-6 BJP men who seemed to be well-trained for their task:
Pintu, Janak Shah, Jeetu Patel, Ganesh Agrawal, Pravin Master, Harendra
Solanki, Dinesh Solanki. The police refused to take down any details of
the complaints or note the names of those accused for the crimes. They
simply wrote that a mob came and set such-and-such place on fire. In view
of this, written complaints were also addressed to the DSP, naming the
main offenders and asking for action against them.
On March 27, eight men entered homes in
Vohrawad, a locality of Dawoodi Bohras, and harassed their women. They
also threatened to burn them alive if they did not vacate their homes.
Responding to complaints, the police arrived but refused to arrest the
accused that were named. On the morning of April 1, 2002, some people from
the adjacent Hindu-predominant locality started pelting stones on Vohrawad.
The police was called and DySP Shastri reached Vohrawad with a posse of
policemen, but the stone throwing continued. Repeated pleas, that instead
of standing around in Vohrawad, which was being targeted, the police
should go and restrain those indulging in violence met with no response.
While the DySP was in the area, nine houses were burnt in Tekra Falia
in the Surti Bhagal area. When the fire brigade arrived, the mob prevented
it from reaching the burning houses, and these were totally gutted as a
At 11.30 p.m. the same night (April 1),
the house of municipal councillor Najmaben Ghulam Mulla in Ganga Jamuna
Society was attacked by a mob. And in Goya Bazaar, a number of Muslim
shops were looted and burnt. Mulla, who belongs to the Congress party,
deposed before the Tribunal along with others from her locality. Her house
directly faces an Adivasi settlement. While the mob continued stoning her
home, a small group armed with swords entered the house. She and her
family members escaped by hiding in a neighbour’s house, but not before
her son’s head was split and she herself was injured on the leg in the
volley of stones. The stoning started at around 11.15 p.m.; later, her
home was broken into, looted and ransacked. But the police arrived only
four hours later, around 3.30 a.m. And its action was limited to the
arrest of her two sons and four supporters. DySP Shastri charged that
shots were fired from her house. (Mulla emphatically denied the charge
while testifying before the Tribunal.) She finally returned to her house
at 5 a.m. to find that every bit of property had either been looted or
When some Hindu-owned shops at Mulla
Bazaar (Mullawad) were burnt down on April 4, Mulla and another councillor,
also a Muslim, were named in the FIR by one of the affected shop-owners as
the instigators of looting and arson. Witnesses told the Tribunal that she
had been falsely implicated; that it was inconceivable that, with curfew
in force, any group of Muslims would dare break into and loot Hindu shops
over a period of two hours (as claimed in the FIR), in a Hindu-predominant
locality barely 50 metres away from a police station and finally burn
them; that, following investigations, the police itself had ruled out any
looting and concluded that the fire started from inside one of the shops.
However, in view of the prevailing anti-Muslim climate and the attitude of
the police, Mulla said she had chosen to stay in hiding while her
application for bail was pending in court. According to these witnesses,
the Congress party has a majority in the Corporation and the BJP is using
its power at Gandhinagar to settle political scores against elected
representatives of the Congress party.
On May 2, Ganesh Agrawal, a prominent
businessman and a BJP representative, was shot at, as a result of which
the city came to a standstill. In the afternoon, some sword-wielding
persons in Chauta Bazaar attacked Amjad Khan, the nephew of one of the
witnesses; his bike was smashed and burnt down. No one, including the
police, knows who was behind the unsuccessful attempt to kill Agarwal,
whose activities are such that he is involved in dealings with hoodlums (taporis)
from both communities. Leaders from the minority community had demanded a
CBI investigation of the case.
Alam Khan, the treasurer of a trust that
runs a college with 2,500 students in the GIDC area of Ankleshwar, where
2,500 youngsters study deposed before the Tribunal. It appears that rivals
of Khan in the faction-ridden trust saw, in the prevailing atmosphere, a
good opportunity to settle scores with Khan and attacked him on March 1,
2002, the lone Muslim with a bungalow on the campus. The witness told the
Tribunal that with the gun he owned, he fired four bullets, "purely in
self-defence as otherwise, my entire family, including children, would
have been burnt alive".
The witness testified that when the
police arrived on the scene, he heard DySP Shastri addressing the group
outside his bungalow, "Now I’ve come and these people haven’t been burnt
or killed as yet. So I have no choice but to take them away from here,
alive. After I’ve taken them away, you can loot their house, burn it, do
whatever you want. I give you time until 5 p.m. to do what you like."
This was a deputy superintendent of police
So the police took the witness and his
family away from there and dropped them at the house of relatives who live
in the village nearby. Some 10-15 minutes later, he got a call on his
mobile phone, informing him that the bungalow was being looted; about an
hour later, he was informed his house was up in flames. A bungalow of
4,500 square feet, they sprinkled petrol and set fire to every room in his
house. Khan’s was the only house on the college campus that was attacked.
The list of the properties, shops,
businesses destroyed in the GIDC area reads as follows: Master Hardware,
Atik Food Products, Jaanu Plastic, Priti Ice, Mayur Marble, Mahadevia
Brooms, Art Gallery and a footwear shop in Sardar Park. All these eight
establishments were destroyed on February 28 and March 1, 2002. Several
Muslim–owned bungalows or flats in the GIDC area were also robbed, looted
and destroyed. These include the bungalows of Shamim Ahmed Siddiqui (Atik
Food Products), Bashir Malik and Fakhre Alam, and flats belonging to
Salimbhai (United Glass) and Adambhai Mansuri (government official).
Another witness, KH Siddiqui, who is in
the hotel business and is also coordinator of the Congress party, deposed
before the Tribunal. On the morning of February 28, one of his tempos was
set on fire. By noon, the bakery he owned was also torched. His repeated
calls to DySP Shastri elicited the promise of police help every time but
none was, in fact, forthcoming. For Siddiqui, the burning down of the
bakery alone meant a loss of over Rs. 12 lakh. In the complaint lodged
with the police, the prime accused were identified and named. But the
local police would not give him a duly signed copy of his complaint with
all the details therein. Hence, the witness also submitted a copy of the
original complaint to every official concerned — the chief secretary, IG
police, DSP Bharuch and the DM Bharuch, wherein the accused were named.
The witness has since taken the matter to Court.
Abdul Ismail Khatri, (46), the owner of
a hotel and a rice shop at Rajpardi village in Bharuch district, deposed
before the Tribunal. The total population of Rajpardi village is 12,000,
of which around 10 per cent are Muslims. On February 27, 2002, Rajpardi
village observed a local bandh to protest the slaughter of a cow in
Tankariya village. Coinciding, as this did, with the reprehensible Godhra
incident the same day, and with the VHP/BD having declared a state and
all-India bandh for the next two days, the Muslims of Rajpardi were
terrified that something or the other would happen.
Late on the night of February 27,
advocate Rohit D Shah, who belongs to the BJP and the VHP, and others,
paid a visit to the witness and other Muslims from the village, all of
whom had stayed awake, to assure them that there was nothing to worry
about. In less than half an hour after the promise of peace, the gong rang
out from the local school building, announcing that it was midnight. It
turned out to be a signal for an all-out attack on local Muslims. In the
first act of violence, a Muslim house on the eastern edge of the village,
adjoining the hotel owned by the witness, was bolted from outside and set
on fire. Had the head of the household not run out of the backdoor and
raised an alarm which had other Muslims running out to help, the nine
persons trapped in the house would have been roasted alive.
Almost simultaneous to the torching of
the house, another group of assailants, comprising of local Hindus and
others from the neighbouring Avidha village, launched an assault on the
mosque that is to the west of the village. Meanwhile, in the village
bazaar in the north of the village, 7-8 Muslim-owned shops were set on
fire. And to the south, a poultry farm belonging to a Muslim was set
aflame. In what could only have been the result of pre-planning, groups
numbering 300-400 men had launched simultaneous attacks on the Muslims of
Rajpardi from all four directions.
Two of the miscreants, who had put the
shops in the bazaar on fire, were nabbed by the Muslims and handed over to
the police. Both were Patels from Avidha village. When they made inquiries
two hours later, it was found that PI Ninama of Jhagadiya Police Station
had already released the culprits. Meanwhile, the attacking mobs had also
broken down the house of Dawoodbhai Memon situated near the mosque, but
that was the last act of violence that night.
Having unitedly warded off the late
night attacks, in the course of the next day about 20 per cent of the
Muslims moved out of the village. With continuing instances of mounting
violence, the situation in the area became progressively worse. Aware that
there were at least 40 unlicensed revolvers with the Patels of Rajpardi
village, Muslims felt increasingly insecure. Women and children started
fleeing the village, moving to Bhalod Tarsali village, 7 km away, which
has a higher Muslim population.
By the night of March 3, most of the
Muslim population had fled because of the repeated threats that all Muslim
homes would be burnt down. That very night, all 18 Muslim homes in
Bakkanagar colony and the kaccha houses in Diwan Falia
locality of Rajpardi village were all burnt. A few cabins at Char Rasta
and a few shops near the railway crossing were also burnt. Through that
night, the police arrested 8 men, 7 of them from the BJP plus a
Congressman — the former village sarpanch and taluka
pramukh, Bhupatsinh Kesrola. But the rest was to follow the next day.
In the morning, Yogesh Kanti Patel
contacted the Muslims who had stayed behind and threatened that if they
failed to procure the release of those arrested (the previous night) by 11
a.m., every Muslim home in the village would be burnt down. Panic-stricken
Muslims made desperate appeals to the police; even the state’s home
minister, Gordhan Zadaphiya, was contacted on his mobile phone, from the
residence of advocate Ranjitsinh Parmar. The chairman of the Police
Aavasth Nigam, Bharatsinh Parmar also spoke to Gordhan Zadaphiya from the
Jhagadiya police station in the presence of the witness. But even
Zadaphiya, a BJP minister and a VHP leader, said that since the FIR had
already been filed, those arrested could only be released after a bail
application was heard in the sessions court.
As the Muslims came out of the police
station and faced the assembled mob, Sunil Patel, a friend of the witness,
took him and three others to his car, telling the crowd that he was taking
them to Rajpardi to bring back the 200-300 Muslims who were still there
for a satyagraha outside the police station, to press for release
of those detained. Once in the car, he informed the witness that messages
had already been sent out to villages as far as 60 km away and the
threatened attack was imminent.
And at 11 a.m. sharp, the attack was
launched, starting with the hotel owned by the witness, Abdul Ismail
Khatri. They first looted goods from all Muslim business
establishments and homes. Tempos, trucks and jeeps were piled up with the
loot; the rest was then consigned to flames. The loot and arson continued
until the evening but there was no sign of the DM, the SP, the DySP or the
policemen lower down the hierarchy.
It was all carefully planned. They had
allotted 10-15 minutes per structure. Each group of marauders, about 500
strong, would loot and destroy some 20 homes in one area and then, after
about 30 minutes, move to the next block. In this manner, divided into
four squads of around 500 each, the assailants set upon the village from
different directions simultaneously. In a matter of approximately five
hours, they had wiped out the entire Muslim locality in the village. It
was all a matter of precise planning – loot all you can, burn what
remains. A small group in each case was assigned the task of breaking the
locks; the looters followed; and then came the arsonists for the final
act. The attackers were armed with 3-litre petrol pouches. Specially
crafted nozzles were fitted to spray gas from cooking gas cylinders at
high pressure, then petrol pouches and fireballs (kankdas) were
flung from a distance to ignite the place. Some chemical powder was also
used to intensify burning.
Though no remnants of chemicals were
retrieved, the special fireballs (kankdas) that had been used to
burn down the mosque were. One man from the village led each mob, acting
as a guide to point out which was a Hindu-owned structure and which one
was Muslim-owned. In some places, Muslim structures had been marked with
chalk. By evening, the Muslim localities in the village were completely
looted and burnt. The cumulative loss of Muslim property in Rajpardi
village alone was estimated at Rs. 5-6 crore. The destruction was so
thorough that they didn’t leave so much as a glass for drinking water or a
pair of slippers intact.
The witness saw the identity markings on
the structures when he came to the village the next day under police
protection. All the Hindu buildings were untouched while the Muslim ones
were finished. The attackers, many of them outsiders, may have had a list
ready earlier, because even during the attacks on previous days they knew
exactly which shops and structures were Muslim-owned.
Gas cylinders had been used to blast
10-15 of the buildings, including the mosque. They also used the gelatine
sticks that are normally used for blasting in stone quarries. The witness
could recognise the gelatine sticks because he has run a quarry for 13
years. Yogesh Patel, the mastermind, is a quarry owner himself. The
3-litre petrol pouches were prepared in the home of cobbler Nilesh Chiman
Solanki. And the fireballs (kankdas) were readied at the
Mani Nageshwar temple, by the river in Ekant village, about 3-4 km away.
When Khatri and other residents phoned
DySP Shastri on March 4, he said, "It is out of our hands. Whatever
Narendra Modi says will happen; you phone Narendra Modi." When the witness
phoned PI Ninama, he replied, "Let whoever’s property is burning burn.
What can you or I do?" ("Jiska jalta hai usko jalne do. Tu aur main kya
The police arrived only at about 6 p.m.
that evening, after all the damage had been done. Though frantic calls
were made repeatedly to the DySP through the day, he neither came himself,
nor did he send any police, although there were about 50 policemen at the
Jhagadiya Police Station at the time. When they finally arrived, curfew
was imposed on the village. For nearly two hours, the mobs prevented fire
engines from reaching Rajpardi.
The witness and other local Muslims were
aware that the VHP/BD had held a few meetings, either in one of their
homes or in the high school, in the recent past. But they had not noticed
any difference in people’s attitude towards them, no souring of relations
until D-day. However, they now recall an incident that took place about 8
months prior to the attacks, when there was trouble after a Muslim boy had
a love marriage with a Bania’s daughter. At that time, some 4-5 handcarts
were burnt and the VHP-BD people had threatened that, one day, Muslim
presence would be wiped out from the village. The couple, who got a court
ruling in their favour, live in Bharuch.
Rohit Shah, an advocate, called another
bandh in Rajpardi on April 19, after rumours about an impending
attack on him were circulated. At a peace committee meeting thereafter, he
directed Muslims to stop all prayers (namaaz) in the mosque
constructed in Bakkanagar about two years ago, and where regular prayers
had been held ever since. At no point were loudspeakers ever used in the
mosque, but that in itself was no longer enough. On the few occasions when
the local Muslims assembled there for prayers, about 100-150 youth would
surround the mosque. So, as demanded by Shah, from April 22, Muslims
stopped holding prayers at the mosque constructed on a plot of land
commercially purchased and about which there was no dispute.
Thereafter, Muslims were also
pressurised to relocate the handcarts that they used for petty business,
but this was being resisted. Shockingly, the police and administration did
not intervene despite 14 appeals and fax messages. The victims from this
village had bitter complaints about inadequate compensation for property
loss, including many complaints about discriminatory compensation. Though
it is Muslims who suffered the most damage, they received much less from
the government than the few Hindus whose business establishments or homes
were affected because of their proximity to targeted Muslim properties.
The total population of Andada village,
situated just outside Ankleshwar, is about 15,000, of which about 450 are
Muslims. There is no police station in the village; it is under the
jurisdiction of the police station at GIDC Ankleshwar, around 6 km away.
Mehmoodbhai Mossabhai Multani, a primary school teacher from the village,
who testified before the Tribunal, spoke of the age-old communal amity
that had existed in this region of Gujarat.
The witness averred that violence first
erupted in his village on March 1, 2002. At about 11 p.m. that night, some
15-20 men attacked his house, smashed some of his belongings and then ran
away. Soon thereafter, he and others discovered that his was not a
solitary case; several other houses had also been similarly attacked. The
terrified Muslims stayed awake the whole night. From the accounts of other
residents of the village, it is clear that the attacks first began on the
houses near the cemetery (kabrastan), where five Muslim families
lived. After some persons were injured in the heavy stone throwing, they
had to run away from there, leaving their homes. After that, the house,
vehicles, flourmill and milk shop of Nasrullahbhai Abdullahbhai Multani,
situated near Andada bus stand, were completely burnt. The family ran out
of the backdoor and took shelter in the house of their neighbour, Bhogilal
Shivlal Modi. Modi was threatened by the mob and told that if he did not
get rid of his Muslim neighbours, he too would suffer. When he refused to
oblige, the 3-wheeler tempos and motorbike that belonged to Modi were also
Early the next morning, a mob of about
400-500 entered the mosque. The mob first started destroying the mosque
property – even the Koran was not spared — and later set the entire place
on fire. By 5.30 a.m., the house of the witness was destroyed. The grain
shop owned by his parents was torched but, fortunately, the fire was
quickly contained. Despite phone calls to the police soon after the first
incidents, the mobs were on the rampage throughout the night, and the
police were nowhere in sight. By morning, as many as 74 of the 110 Muslim
homes in the village were completely damaged. The next night, women were
sent away while the men stayed with Hindu neighbours who gave them
shelter. Again, all through the night, the same atmosphere prevailed as on
the previous night. Mobs numbering 100 and more entered Muslim houses,
destroying whatever they pleased. The attackers belonged to the same
village, but they were residents of a newly developed locality.
One of the culprits identified by the
witness was Naresh Nagji Patel, who works in the postal department. The
other accused identified by witnesses are: Prakashbhai Rameshbhai Patel,
Anilbhai Ramanbhai Patel and Dineshbhai Bhikabhai Patel. Despite repeated
complaints, not a single person was arrested throughout March. On the
night of April 1-2, 2002, a luxury bus belonging to Jamada Transport was
burnt in the village. It was only when the proprietors of the transport
company started putting pressure that the police made inquiries and
arrested 12 persons. Though many of those arrested for the luxury bus
arson were also involved in the attacks in the village a month earlier,
the charge against them was limited to the latest incident, and those
detained were released a day or two later.
Out of fear, the villagers had not named
any one of the accused in their first FIR, but they went back to the
police station later to name the accused. Though a policeman registered a
fresh complaint including names of the accused, the complainants
subsequently found the names missing. Thereafter, the police simply
refused to entertain any further statements from the victims. However,
many appeals recording this fact were sent by registered (A/D) to the DSP.
Yet, until early May, no investigations had been started by the police,
nor had any arrests been made.
About 250-300 Muslims from Andada had
initially sought refuge in relief camps but later they moved to Ankleshwar
and villages like Kosamdi, Kosamba, Panoli, Jitali, Bharuch, Segva. As of
early May, only 3-4 families had returned to their village. Witnesses from
Andada highlighted the plight of Andada’s Muslims, who had, per force, got
scattered all over while their means of livelihood remained rooted in
their native village. The survivors who deposed before the Tribunal said
that they were tired of refugee life but that conditions were still not
conducive for their return.
One of the motives for the attacks was
political. Prakashbhai Rameshbhai Patel of the BJP, who had lost in the
local elections, was upset that Muslims had not voted for him. His wife is
currently the village sarpanch. That is why he and his outfit
specifically targeted Congress leaders like Yunus Ismail and Khalid
One Muslim woman witness spoke of the
cordial relations that existed between the communities in the village
until very recently. In January 2002, when both her son and daughter got
married, special arrangements were made for the nearly 3,000 Hindu guests.
She said she was on excellent terms with the Hindu residents in the
society where she lived. When a temple was to be built a few years ago, in
the interests of amity, Muslims had contributed more generously than the
Hindus. Muslims, she said, also made contributions towards Ganpati and
Navratri celebrations, even though the Hindus from the village did not
contribute towards Muslim celebrations and festivals.
But focussing on their present plight,
another woman witness from the village spoke of the abusive threats being
received by mothers about the fate of their daughters and young women if
they dared return to the village. The threat of sexual violence was being
used as a special weapon to dissuade Muslims from returning to Andada.
In their all-consuming hatred of
Muslims, the leaders and cadres of the Sangh Parivar did not make
any exception, even in case of landless agricultural labourers, dependent
entirely on the landed for their humble existence. Agricultural labourers
from Mandwa, deposing before the Tribunal, said the attack in Mandwa
village near Ankleshwar, took place on the night of March 2, 2002. One
witness, Salimbhai Kaderbhai Mughal, (30), said that in the mob of about
200-250 that targeted them, he recognised Hindus from his own village who
owed allegiance to the Bajrang Dal. He said the leaders of the mob were
Mahesh Shankar, Bipinbhai Gunwantbhai Pandya, Mahesh Dalpat Parmar,
Khushal Chiman Machhi Patel, Thakore Jina, Chandubhai Bhikhabhai Machhi
Patel, Bhikha Sardar, all belonging to the Bajrang Dal.
This witness was badly injured in the
attack and underwent treatment at the Patel Welfare Hospital for four
days. His house was also burnt down. In Mandwa village, there are 65
Muslim houses in a total population of around 20,000. It was Mahesh
Shankar Patel of the BD who had first threatened Muslim villagers the
previous day, telling them to run away or else the Bajrang Dal would gun
The witnesses were saddened by the fact
that the same Jaikantbhai, who had been helpful to them earlier, was also
the one who got the accused, who had been arrested, released on bail. And
now these very persons were threatening the villagers yet again, saying
things like, "Last time, it was houses that we burnt, but now, we will
Witnesses said they were physically
attacked and their homes looted and burnt on March 2, in the presence of
police who did nothing to protect them. When a water tanker was brought to
the village, it was not used by the police to save Muslim homes from the
raging flames; instead, the water was selectively used to put out the fire
in the few neighbouring Hindu homes which had caught fire due to their
proximity to Muslim ones.
Despite their pleas for security to
enable their return to the village, the police refused to oblige.
Nonetheless, economic compulsions had forced a few of them to return to
their villages a few days before the Tribunal heard them (May 9), only to
be told by their earlier tormentors that if they did return, they would be
killed. The witnesses had not been rehabilitated in the least, when the
Tribunal recorded their evidence. On May 8, Dilawarbhai went back to his
village. But he fled again the same night, with his small children,
because his house was stoned. Despite it being a large village and despite
the recent incidents of violence, no police point has been situated at
In the panchayat elections held
on May 7, all the Muslims voted en masse for an Adivasi candidate. Even
then, the VHP-BD followers had threatened them – "If you don’t vote for
us, we’ll burn the rest of your houses and won’t let you come back to the
The badly-off labourers have received a
mere pittance in compensation. Salimbhai Mughal received Rs. 2,000 while
Dilawarbhai Ahmedbhai Mughal got only Rs.1,250; some others have only
received Rs. 500.