Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat

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Incidents of Post-Godhra violence


Bharuch city

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 was injured.

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 culprits.

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 result.

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 destroyed.

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.

GIDC area

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 speaking!

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 karenge?")

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 destroyed.

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 Mohammed.

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 for them.

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 kill you."

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 Mandwa.

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 village."

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.



Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace