The Tribunal visited Vadodara and its
surroundings between May 8-13, 2002 and recorded detailed evidence of the
violence in these places. During the same period, the Tribunal also paid a
field visit to Ankleshwar and Bharuch and conducted detailed
investigations there. Vadodara is barely two hours from Godhra, where 58
persons had been killed in the torching of coach S-6 of the Sabarmati
Express on February 27.
The violence in Vadodara city occurred
in three distinct phases. The first phase, which started on February 27
itself, lasted until March 2, with the worst incident having taken place
on March 1, when 14 persons were burnt alive at the Best Bakery in Hanuman
Tekri. Thereafter, there was violence between March 15-20 and, following
this, between April 25-May 2, with some incidents taking place in the
intervening period, on March 25.
In terms of loss of life, the incidents
in Vadodara do not compare with Ahmedabad. However, assaults on Muslims
living in different pockets of the city, especially those inflicted by the
police of Vadodara, were widespread. The most shocking aspect was the
violence and sexual misconduct of the Vadodara police directed at Muslims
in several places, particularly in the two latter phases of the violence.
Sexual abuse and threats were a common feature of police behaviour.
Numerous witnesses, who were victims of the most unspeakable brutalities
by policemen from different police stations in Vadodara, deposed before
the Tribunal. Many had serious injuries on their person, inflicted by
drunken policemen who beat them mercilessly. From the accounts of the
numerous witnesses who appeared before the Tribunal, the police emerge as
the worst perpetrators of atrocities against Muslims, in general, and
Muslim women, in particular, as far as Vadodara city is concerned.
Soon after February 28, a patrika
(pamphlet) was widely circulated among Vadodara’s Hindus, exhorting them
to an economic boycott of Muslims: "Don’t give them work, don’t sit in
their autos and don’t buy anything from their shops." The anonymous
pamphlet appeared to have had its effect on the ground. When the situation
improved and Muslims started returning to work, their employers told them
not to come to work any more. Many of those who deposed before the
Tribunal said Muslim employees were dismissed from service after being
told by their bosses, "If we employ you, it causes problems for us; so you
can’t work here." Those who thus lost their jobs were schoolteachers, as
well as women working in nursing homes, shops, hardware stores, etc. A
lady teacher employed by Navratan School was told she couldn’t keep her
job on any longer, "You are a Muslim, so don’t come back here." In another
case, the doctors in charge of a nursing home informed the parents of an
employee that they should not send her to work any longer.
Phase I: Feb 27-March 2
Tension built up from February 27
itself, when a Muslim bystander was stabbed in the presence of the police
after the return of the kar sevaks in the Sabarmati Express. By the
evening of February 28, vulnerable Muslim pockets in different parts of
the city were targeted for attack.
Around 120 Muslim homes were destroyed
at Kisanwadi after residents’ belongings were looted. There was no loss of
life here, thanks largely to the efforts of Ramdas Pillai, who kept them
safe through the night, and at great risk to himself, reached them to the
Quraish Jamaat Khana the next day. (See section on Evidence—Witnesses,
Volume I). About 500 Muslims took shelter with the Pillais that night.
A builder by profession, Pillai and his wife Lakshmiben, his brother and a
friend named Kanubhai opened their doors to the Muslims of Kisanwadi.
Together they, along with an autorickshaw driver and a tractor owner,
Mohanbhai Savalia, helped to whisk the Muslim residents of Kisanwadi away
to safety. Were it not for their timely removal from Kisanwadi, the
murderous mob may well have burnt them alive in the very tractors that
were used to whisk them away.
The attacks started on the evening of
February 28, when a mob shouting, "Destroy their shops! Kill them!"
pounced on Muslim homes, shops and vehicles. Several witnesses from the
area who deposed before the Tribunal said that about 100-150 people who
appeared, armed with swords, sickles, etc. could be easily recognised as
workers of the Bajrang Dal, whose office was located nearby. The mobs made
repeated trips to Muslim houses, looting or destroying whatever they could
lay their hands on: vessels, clothes, tape recorders, TVs, refrigerators.
A young witness from Kisanwadi, whose
home and family belongings were looted, told the Tribunal that her mother
had been assaulted and was badly injured. The mother was in no condition
to go to work any more, her brother and father had both lost their jobs,
at Kirit Hotel and Gurukul Vidyalaya respectively, and the entire burden
of the family had fallen on her. She herself had not returned to work at
the clinic where she was employed out of fear, since residents of
Kisanwadi were still being threatened with dire consequences; young women,
in particular, were threatened with rape.
In his testimony before the Tribunal,
Pillai said that even two months after Kisanwadi’s Muslims were forced to
flee their homes, the situation continued to be grim. The local goons were
still stealing whatever little was left of Muslim homes — doors, tin
roofs, etc. There was no safety for the Muslims who might want to come
back. The terror-stricken Muslims themselves told the Tribunal they needed
land in some other place to rebuild their lives. No political
representative of any party had visited the victims, not even the local
And the police was of little help.
Following some token arrests, the accused, along with the local police,
had been pressurising the Muslims to withdraw their complaints. According
to Pillai’s testimony, on April 4, PI Kanani picked up his brother,
Krishnamurthy Swaminathan, on a false pretext, and subsequently arrested
him on charges of attempt to murder (section 307). While Muslim
complainants insisted that Swaminathan was, in fact, one of those who had
saved them, police officer JD Rana was pressurising them to name
Swaminathan as an accused!
The Ajwa area, close to Kisanwadi, was
also severely affected in the post-Godhra violence.
The Sama area of Vadodara is a
relatively new part of the city with a predominantly Hindu population.
This area had not experienced disturbances in earlier communal riots in
the city. During the Gujarat carnage, however, there were a series of
incidents where Muslim homes, businesses were looted and torched.
It is in this area that on the morning
of February 28, a mob of around 20 people attacked the residence of Prof.
JS Bandukwala, a well-known and respected figure in Vadodara and an active
member of the PUCL, who has consistently opposed both Hindu and Muslim
religious fanaticism over the years. Prof. Bandukwala and his daughter
managed to take shelter in the house of their Hindu neighbours. But one
car in his compound was completely burnt and the other damaged by the mob.
The attackers fled after about 10 minutes, when people from the
neighbourhood came out onto the road. However, on the following day, March
1, a bigger mob armed with gas cylinders among other weaponry, launched a
second assault and succeeded in torching Bandukwala’s house. When the fire
brigade arrived to put out the fire, they were prevented from doing so by
the mob. The Hindu neighbours of Prof. Bandukwala, who had sheltered the
people trapped in his house, went into hiding for three or four days,
fearing an attack for having sheltered their Muslim neighbour. After their
return home, they were "interrogated" about why they had been so helpful
On the evening of February 28, a few
persons living in Sama went to meet the BJP’s local municipal councillor,
Pradip Joshi, to appeal to him for peace in the area. Joshi raved and
ranted about the "unpatriotic" and "criminal nature" of the Muslim
community, "their habit of abducting Hindu girls", and dwelt on the
desirability of Muslims going and living in "their own areas". He also
produced a list, to show how in the recent Assembly by-election, Muslim
localities had voted against the BJP. Joshi spent some time describing how
he had earlier dealt with Muslim "anti-socials" from Navayard. (Navayard
saw serious attacks on Muslims in the days to follow.) On being repeatedly
asked whether he could assure residents that there would be no further
violence in the area, he replied that he could not do so. One of his
associates explained that what had happened that day (February 28) was
"only a sample", and that it was better to be prepared for what would
follow the next day.
March 1 saw more intense rioting
activity, with larger, well-prepared mobs roaming the streets, looting and
burning Muslim shops and houses. In Madhavnagar II, near Abhilasha Chowki,
though a Hindu friend of the Safree family helped them escape, the mob
attacked their house, taking everything they could carry, including cash,
jewellery, clothes and electrical gadgets, before setting the house on
fire. Later the same day, Amin Transport, the business owned by
Abdulrrehman Safree, at Maruti Complex, was also broken into, looted and
burnt. The house was left to smoulder for three days. When the family
visited their house many days later, they found their neighbours and
friends of many years distant, unresponsive, and inclined to disassociate
from them and all that had transpired. The Safrees have since been
seriously thinking of relocating to a Muslim neighbourhood.
Ashabibi Ni Chawl
A large mob shouting "Maaro Mian ko!"
("Kill the Muslims!") attacked the Ashabibi Ni Chawl, a mixed locality of
pardesis (outsiders, Hindus and Muslims from UP). Despite frantic
calls, the police failed to arrive. But residents of the chawl,
both Hindu and Muslim, repulsed the attack. Witnesses deposing before the
Tribunal named BJP councillor Joshi as the main instigator of the attack.
Around 25 men from Ashabibi Ni Chawl suffered injuries; two with head
injuries were admitted to Narhari Hospital in Fatehgunj, where they were
treated and discharged. The 300 or so Muslim residents (40-odd families)
fled the area and took shelter in the Kamatipura area of Fatehgunj. At
Ashabibi Ni Chawl, the police, when they did arrive, fired two shots at
the residents who were under attack, rather than at the mobs. Mobs were
allowed to disperse without any attempt to arrest any of the attackers.
Sama area remained free from major
incidents during the latter phase of violence. However, a certain level of
tension was maintained for several weeks through the continuous
circulation of rumours that armed Muslims were about to attack. In none of
the incidents of violence did the police intervene in time. Calls to the
police station went unanswered, or callers were told that the police was
unable to attend to them, or, in one case, even that they must "reap the
rewards of Godhra." Where help was promised, it arrived late. The police
were also seen hobnobbing with mob leaders such as the BJP’s Pradip Joshi.
The Bajrang Dal and the VHP set up an
office in Indira Nagar, a mixed settlement in the Makarpura area, on the
evening of February 27. In the attacks launched on Muslims the following
night, Hindu neighbours actively participated and the large-scale
destruction of homes and properties was systematic and thorough. Attacks
in Makarpura area continued for three days but the police did not respond
to repeated and frantic calls from the trapped Muslims. On the contrary,
six Muslims were killed in police firing.
Later, when Muslims went to the
Makarpura Teenlata police station to complain, they were told point blank
that no complaints from Muslims would be entertained, nor any police
protection be provided.
The following night, even as a local
social worker (who deposed before the Tribunal requesting anonymity) was
escorting Muslims out of Indira Nagar, one Farroukhbhai Samoosawala was
killed by the mob. On March 2, the Hindu residents of Vanejagaon (where
many Muslim residents of Makarpura had been moved) took the help of Hindus
from the neighbouring localities to loot and then burn down all 150 Muslim
Muslims fleeing Vanejagaon were walking
along the Highway when they were set upon by a mob in a nearby village.
Those caught were killed and then thrown into raging flames to be burnt.
According to the social worker, Bipin Patel, a resident of the village and
a local Bajrang Dal/VHP leader, was instigating the 500-600 strong mob.
"If an investigation is carried out even now, the remains of Muslim
victims will be found strewn in the fields even now," he told the Tribunal
in the second week of May. In addition to the lives lost, about 500 Muslim
houses were looted and subsequently destroyed in the Makarpura area. Among
those affected were several Muslim families, each of whom had lost
properties worth several lakh rupees.
The social worker, who deposed before
the Tribunal, said that when he went to the police station to lodge a
complaint on February 28, he found two local BJP leaders, Lakhawala and
Brahmbhatt, already sitting there. He was told in front of the policemen
that the BJP did not want any Muslims in Vanejagaon and that they could
forget about police protection.
Whenever the social worker took the
Muslims to the police station to lodge FIRs, the police would say, "Why
are you leading them, you just mind your own business." When the Muslims
go to lodge FIRs, they would be told that complaints would be lodged only
if no names of the accused were mentioned. Muslims were also told that
they would get no help in this connection, even if they went right up to
Delhi. Finally, they registered some complaints, keeping out all the names
of the accused. An assistant commissioner of police was named by the
social worker for acting as an informant of Hindu aggressors and also
getting innocent Muslims arrested.
The victims of Audhootnagar, Makarpura
who had taken refuge in a relief camp went to check out the state of their
houses under the protection of PSI Varecha, two junior officers and four
constables on March 17. They were in their homes, trying to retrieve some
of their belongings, when a mob of 5-6,000 set upon them. Witnesses told
the Tribunal, "The police just sat there instead of defending us… PSI
Varecha actually said to the mob, ‘Dus minute mein sab patado’
(‘You have 10 minutes to do your job’). He did not use any tear gas or
fire to disperse the mob. The mob attacked us with pipes, swords and
dharias (sickles) but we received no protection from the police. Munna
Bhai (25-year-old) and Mushtaq Ahmed Nisar Ahmed (45-year-old) were
killed." Niraj Jain (VHP mahamantri), Kaushik Shah, Shailesh Mehta
(deputy mayor), Jatin Vyas (Bajrang Dal), Nagarjuna (from Ajwa Road),
Jayesh Bhatt, Ajay Dave, Raju were identified as leading the assailants
while PSI Varecha, two junior officers and four constables were blamed for
their culpable negligence.
Raghovpura is a village of about 100
families, Hindu and Muslim in almost equal number, about 12 kms from
Tarsali, off the Vadodara-Mumbai Highway (NH 8). Out of a total of 41
houses belonging to Muslims, 36 houses and the masjid, along with
two buildings belonging to the masjid, were burnt down by a 500
strong, armed mob late night on March 1. The families targeted were
well-off agriculturists who collectively lost property estimated at Rs. 80
The Tribunal recorded detailed evidence
about this incident. In the afternoon of March 1, Subhashbhai Mafatbhai
Chota, a local Bajrang Dal leader held a meeting in his village, Patarveni,
adjacent to Raghovpura. A large number of villagers attended the meeting,
including many from Raghovpura, Two of them, Hindu friends of Muslim boys
from their village, returned to Raghovpura and warned Mubarak Bhai that
plans were being made to burn Muslim houses. When informed, PSI Vadalia
from Varnama who was posted in the village along with two police
constables since that morning, told the Muslims, "Don’t worry, we are
But when a mob numbering 400-500
launched an assault later that night, Vadalia and the two constables acted
as their accomplices. Shouting slogans like "Miya ne kapo!" ("Kill
the Muslims!"; "Miya ne jalao" ("Torch the Muslims!"); "Unki
auraton ki ijjat luto" ("Rape their women!"), the mob ransacked the
mosque, made a pile of all they could find, copies of the Koran included,
poured kerosene and chemicals over it and set it on fire. The mosque was
destroyed along with two adjacent Muslim houses. It then looted the
remaining Muslim homes after which they too were torched.
Anticipating trouble, all the women and
children were shifted from Raghovpura to Dhaniyari village on February 27
itself. About 15-20 men, who had stayed behind, also fled to Dhaniyari
when the attack was launched, except for Mubarak Bhai, who stayed behind
and witnessed the destruction, loot and burning.
The fire brigade, which arrived several
hours later, refused to help in putting out the fire, according to Mubarak
Bhai. The PSI told him that if his people hadn’t burnt the train, this
would not have happened.
The victims named the following: Bajrang
Dal leader, Subhashbhai Mafatbhai Chota; Rabhipura village sarpanch,
Deepabhai Patel; Raghovpura sarpanch, Shantilal Patel; Natwarbhai
Naranbhai Patel, Mahendrabhai Patel, Bipinbhai Bhailalbhai Patel, Amitbhai
Jashbhai Patel, Motibhai Gordhanbhai Patel, sarpanch of Megakui,
Satishbhai Thakor, his brother Chandresh Thakor, and many others. PSI
Vadalia, who said he would register FIRs and complaints only if no names
were mentioned and the two policemen on duty were also indicted for their
The Tarsali area, in the south-eastern
part of Vadodara city, has several pockets of Muslim population: Noor
Park, Vishal Nagar, Govind Nagar, Sharad Nagar, Moti Nagar, Rajiv Nagar,
Indira Nagar and Danteswar. Many of the people from Noor Park are
vegetable and fruit sellers at the Tarsali market. The Tribunal has
evidence to show that a meeting was held by the VHP around the end of
January 2002, at the ITI grounds. Praveen Togadia addressed the meeting
and the cable operator telecast this on a local channel. Shamshersinh, one
of the residents of Dadu Nagar in Tarsali area, reported that in this
meeting Togadia incited Hindus to an economic boycott of Muslims, telling
them not to even offer the latter any water if they came to Hindu homes.
The various segments of Tarsali faced a
similar pattern of attack. On March 1, Nasir Hussain Liaqat Hussain and
his son were stoned, trapped in tyres and then burnt alive. The accused in
the murders are Narendrasinh Solanki (BJP, taluka panchayat
member), Sunil Patel (BJP), along with Sunil Bhoieto, Ajit Kalia (of
Vishal Nagar), Sudhir Meldi, Pradip aka Padiyo, Kallo Jaiswal, Bhupendra,
Ravi, Dharmendra, Kanchia, Manish Gurkha (all of Vishal Nagar).
Jagdishbhai Shah, well-known Gandhian and resident of the Vinoba Ashram,
testified before the Tribunal, giving details of the burning of the local
mosque and other Muslim property in Gotri village and on Gotri Road. The
property destroyed included three tempos, a car and a three-wheeler that
its Muslim owners had parked inside the Ashram compound for safety.
The 10 Muslim families from Ramdev Nagar,
Ghanchi Falia, Gotri Road, were given shelter by their Hindu neighbours
for a while. But later, fearing imminent attack, they fled wearing the
saris lent to them by their Hindu neighbours to disguise their identity.
Rampaging mobs later looted and burnt all their homes.
On March 28, villagers of Gotri
apparently attacked Muslim houses in nearby Umetha and burnt down 35
houses, 25 cabins and the standing crops on many fields. They also burnt
the masjid. One of the local leaders telephoned the Tandalja relief
camp. A truck came to Umetha with a police escort in the evening and
Dilawarbhai and his family shifted to the camp in Amir Complex, Tandalja.
Many others went to Anklav under police protection.
In Gorwa village, in the north-eastern
part of Vadodara, where there are many public sector companies, Muslim
slum dwellers were attacked on February 28 and their houses burnt down.
Many houses in Karelibagh and
surrounding areas were burnt and looted. Immediately after the violence
started, for about 10-15 days, many people from other areas sought shelter
in the Kasamala Kabrastan area of Karelibagh. Ghaghretia, a small
village near Dabhoi Chowkdi, had many Muslim houses of which several were
burnt. The remaining were looted. Some of the affected families from
Ghaghretia, who had acquaintances in Kasamala, were sheltered by local
people in their own homes. Some people fled to other parts of the country
after the incidents.
Evidence recorded by the Tribunal showed
an inspiring example of Hindu-Muslim solidarity in Kasamala. One of the
Hindu families in Kasamala was dependent on daily wages. The Muslim
households gave them food, as they could not go out to work during curfew.
They would also tell them that they would protect them at night; because
of these assurances, the Hindu families in the area said they could sleep
without anxiety. Because of the assurance of safety, the Hindu families
did not migrate from the area. A house belonging to a Hindu boy named Raju
was burnt down in the disturbances. His Muslim neighbours gave him food
There are more Muslims in Kasamala than
Hindus, while Ramdev Pir, an area nearby, has more Hindus than Muslims.
This entire part of Vadaodara has had a history of peace and harmony.
After the attacks, they resolved to be united and defend themselves
together from an outside attack, whichever religion or caste the attackers
might belong to. Because of this understanding between the two
communities, the people could move around freely during the curfew with an
assurance of safety.
Best Bakery, Hanuman Tekri
The most ghastly incident from Vadodara
district was the one that took place at Best Bakery where fourteen persons
were attacked with swords, trishuls, lathis and other
weapons before being burnt alive. The Tribunal recorded the testimony of
Shaikh Zahida Habibullah one of the victims whose family members were
killed. The witness told the Tribunal that Jayanti Batija ‘Chaiwala’,
Mahesh Munna ‘Painter’, and Sanjay and Santosh Thakkar, led a mob
of about 500-700 people that attacked the bakery at around 8 p.m. on March
1. "They were flinging petrol bombs on us and were shouting that they will
loot and burn us. Our three trucks full of timber were burnt and
destroyed." The family made repeated calls to the police control room and
also the policemen at Panigate police station. The police kept saying, "Hum
aa rahe hain" ("We are coming.") An hour and a half later, around 9.30
p.m., a police vehicle drove by the bakery, stopped briefly and then drove
away without doing anything to stop the mob.
The most shocking aspect of this
incident is that it was after the police had come and gone away without
any preventive stop that the mob started the loot and arson and subsequent
massacre. There were shouts, filthy abuse and threats of rape, etc. from
the crowd. The entire mob had surrounded the bakery, a multiple-floor
structure. They first looted and torched the ground floor storeroom and
(Hanuman Tekri is located on Dabhoi
Road, on the outskirts of Vadodara. It is a lower middle-class and poor
neighbourhood. Most of the residents are Hindus; very few Muslim families
live there. The Muslim family owning the bakery had shifted to this area
only six months prior to this incident. All other Muslims staying in the
area had already left their houses on February 27. Only this family stayed
on because Jayanti ‘Chaiwala’, who is an influential person in the area,
assured them safety).
Twenty members of the Shaikh family,
including an aging mother, remained trapped and terrified on the terrace,
as the murderous mob burnt eight people to death on the ground floor.
Thereafter, the mob went after the people trapped on the terrace. The
witness’ mother kept appealing to the better sense of the killers saying
that she had no support except for her sons. However, two of the witness’
brothers were burnt alive. Two other brothers who received severe injuries
were in hospital until early May. Other family members who were seriously
injured included the mother of the witness and one sister. The uncle of
the witness, her sister, Shabira and her maternal uncle’s (mama’s)
children, Zainab and Shabnam (twins) were burnt alive along with the
workers in the bakery. The stomachs of the three Hindu employees at the
bakery were slit open before they were thrown into the fire. In all, 14
persons were killed and burnt in this incident of carnage.
Even the domestic animals, like goats,
were not spared. All the attackers were from the mohalla. This
included four children and three women. The remains of two of the victims
could not be found. Jayanti Batija ‘Chaiwala’ is the main culprit. He
first reassured them of their safety and then led the attack at night. The
assault went on for a staggering 14 hours and yet there was no help from
the police. A Hindu, who owns the Phoolchand bakery, was also among the
attackers and he took away the ample stock of flour, ghee and other
things. A copy of the complaint of the accused has been submitted to the
National Human Rights Commission and other human rights organisations,
besides the collector and police commissioner, Vadodara. The accused here
are Jayanti ‘Chaiwala’ and his sons, Mafat, Mahesh Munna ‘Painter’, Sanjay
Thakkar, Santosh Thakkar, Jagdish Rattiwala, and Dinesh Bakerywala. The
policemen indicted are the Panigate police station
Hajimiyan ki Sara, Baranpura
Located in the south-eastern part of
Vadodara city, the Baranpura locality had around 15 per cent Muslim
households, flanked by Gujarati and Marathi-speaking Hindus. There were
two police points in the area, possibly because the locality has seen
communal riots in 1969 as well as in 1992. But residents say that the
violence then was not as severe as this time.
Between February 28 and March 1, an
entire Muslim mohalla in Baranpura was looted and burnt. A few
houses escaped damage, probably because of their location next to Hindu
properties. In Baranpura, a total of around 700 persons have been rendered
homeless. On March 8, when some victims went back to check their homes,
they found them still burning. This is a shocking comment on the conduct
of the Vadodara police. When victim-survivors from 8-10 families went back
a second time, on March 22, to record their panchnamas, they were
attacked by a 500 strong mob and forced to flee. The mob set fire to the
scooters on which they had come. Though the police were present they could
not or did not do anything.
Among the Muslim homes destroyed at
Baranpura was that of Gaman, an internationally renowned epigraphist who
was formerly with the Archaeological Survey of India. His collections of
more than 200 rare manuscripts and hundreds of ancient coins were lost in
the fire. Ganam’s wife (aged 75) shifted Ganam, who was 90-years-old and
paralysed, to a safer house, which was also later attacked. Ganam died in
In all, 39 homes were looted and burnt.
Three houses in the mohalla where there were to be weddings had
gold, expensive clothes and grain, which were all looted. One such family
alone lost goods worth Rs 12-13 lakh. Besides homes, 19 shops, a bakery
and a coal depot were looted and burnt while the local dargah was
According to statements before the
Tribunal, the persons who came to attack on March 2, were from the
neighbouring falia, several of whom the Muslims recognised.
Those named are: Bhaya (Machi), Bhuriyo (Soni), Mochi, Ramesh, Dr.
Thakor’s son, Hardik and Vimal, and Maniyo (son of Ranjeet from Chobdar
Roshan Nagar, Tulsiwadi
Tulsiwadi is the name for the whole
complex of slums, including Sanjay Nagar, Roshan Nagar and others. The
Tulsiwadi area is a mixed area, with almost equal population of Hindus and
Muslims. However, Roshan Nagar is mostly a Muslim majority area. The
Tribunal recorded testimonies from here too. There were intermittent
attacks in the area between February 28 and March 31. Some major incidents
are given below.
On February 28, Tulsiwadi main bazaar
was the scene of stone pelting and attacks. Witnesses said a mob led by
Umakant Joshi (BJP’s ex-mayor), Kanubhai Panwala, Narendra Pandya s/o
Parvati, Rajubhai Kuberbhai and Suresh Sharma STD walla of
Tulsiwadi, burnt houses in Sanjay Nagar shopping centre. Hillayyabe, an
ex-corporator was also active in these attacks. Victims told the Tribunal
that the police joined in the attacking mob and broke up houses. In their
combing operations they even took away the rods of a baby’s cradle saying
that these were weapons. They made abusive and sexually threatening
statements like, "Tumhaare yaar ayenge, woh tumhe zinda maarenge"
("When your ‘lovers’ arrive, they skin you alive"), "We enjoy thrashing
you Muslim women", "We can rape you", "Run away to Pakistan". "Gandi
gaali bolte the"("They used filthy language") was a widespread
In Sanjay Nagar, on March 1 and 2, what
remained of the mutton shops that were set on fire on the night of
February 27, was cleared out and a temple constructed on the same spot,
blocking the lane leading to the Sanjay Nagar slum. On the evening of
March 2, prasad was distributed here and bhajans blared over
a loudspeaker from the temple.
From the testimonies recorded by the
Tribunal and other evidence collected, it is clear that the police did not
limit itself to offensive language. Among those who were injured by the
- A pregnant woman injured by two
bullets, who had to be admitted to
- Rubina, a 6-year-old girl, whose hand
was injured and contused.
- Mumtaz Bano, who received a black eye
in the beatings.
- A 9-month-old baby whose eyes were
affected by a tear gas shell that burst at the feet of the woman holding
The women victims, whose testimonies
were recorded by the Tribunal, were extremely agitated and upset at this
role of the police. They complained bitterly that the police, who were
supposed to protect them, had instead used abusive language and trampled
on their sense of dignity. The women stated how, with their menfolk behind
bars, the family members had been starving for days.
From the evidence recorded by the
Tribunal, it is clear that many Muslims were illegally arrested and
detained by the Vadodara police. Eyewitnesses testified saying that the
police came at the same time as the mobs. One such witness described how
they pulled her out of the house, dragged her in the mud, beating her all
the while. When asked whether she had lodged a police complaint with the
commissioner of police about the atrocities, her angry response was: "What
is the point of complaining to him when his men did all this to us? We
need to complain to the chief minister or the Prime Minister." This
witness has submitted her testimony to the NHRC.
Mansuri Kabrastan was another area in
this locality where women and young men were brutally assaulted by the
Karelibagh police on March 1. Many victims, agitated at the illegal
arrests of many boys, had registered a complaint that they were being
brutally beaten by the police.
On March 1, 2002 a big mob entered the
Madarmohalla basti in Wadi, near Panigate in the old city area of
Vadodara and burnt down five Muslim houses. Residents told the Tribunal
that there were Bajrang Dal people in the mob. But instead of going after
the culprits, the police, too, turned on the Muslims, most of them daily
wage earners. The Tribunal found that this was a clear and sinister
pattern to the violence in Vadodara, where poor and vulnerable Muslims
were first attacked by mobs and then set upon by the police.
They systematically dragged out men from
their houses while families were sitting down to dinner or watching
television. Forcible arrests were then made from different areas beginning
with Wadi, Panigate. Seventeen-year-old Deewan, trying to flee from the
police, was badly injured on her earlobe by shrapnel from a shell, causing
her to faint. She was hospitalised for 13 days, had been vomiting blood,
and was still on medication three weeks later.
Other people related how the police went
on the rampage, breaking down houses and everything that came in their
way. Children were terrified and hid in all kinds of places, but the
police pulled them out while terrorising all the residents. Forty-two
basti dwellers were arrested that night, taken to the Panigate police
station and detained for 13 days. The police continued to visit the area
for days after the incident, threatening and intimidating the people
further. Victims of Panigate had severe injuries inflicted on them by the
assault. There were burn scars, multiple fractures etc. Almost all those
affected were daily wage earners.
When the Bade Masdada Ki Chaali was
attacked on the night of February 28 by a large mob, there were police
jeeps accompanying the mob. The attackers came armed with swords and other
weapons. When approached for protection, the police said, "Save
yourselves, we cannot save you." The people fled, leaving behind
everything they owned. Their property was first looted and then their
houses were burnt to the ground. The police not only refused to protect
them but also joined the mob in beating them up. Some sustained injuries,
including two with serious head injuries and had to be hospitalised. The
brutal police did not spare even the elderly. Young Muslims were chased
and beaten by the police during curfew while Hindu boys moved around
freely on scooters.
The hapless Muslims took shelter in a
nearby dargah, helpless witnesses to the night long burning of
their houses and belongings. The worst part was the sense of betrayal by
neighbours: they were being attacked by Hindus with whom they had shared
meals, they had visited each others’ homes for 40 years. Ganibhai Qureshi
said, "Hamare saath salon se khane waale bhi hamen bhagaye us din. Aaj
hamara kisi par bharosa nahin. Saara bharosa toot gaya hai." ("People
we shared meals with for years chased us off that day. Today, we trust no
one. All trust has been broken for good.")
Phase II: March 15-20
The significance of the Machchipith
violence in the second round of violence lies in the fact that by March
14, Vadodara was getting back to normal. There were many areas where no
untoward incident had taken place till then. The event at Machchipith was
used and reported by the media as an attack by Muslims on peacefully
passing ‘rambhakts’, an echo of the Godhra event. This was used to
trigger the second round of violence in Vadodara, which then spread to
Machchipith, in the old city area, is
inhabited by middle and lower middle-class Hindus and Muslims. Many of
them run businesses and some are in the service sector. About 40 Hindu
families and 400 Muslim families reside in the area. In the aftermath of
Godhra, harmony had prevailed in Machchipith, despite instances of
violence in the immediate vicinity — Tulsibhai Ki Chawl, Salatwada,
Haribhakti Ki Chawl — in which Muslim homes, shops, madrassas and
mosques were looted or burnt.
On March 15, The VHP and Bajrang Dal had
given a call to Hindus to organise ‘Ram dhun’ meetings all over
India. In view of the prevailing tension, Tuteja, Vadodara’s police
commissioner imposed section 144 in the city. In contravention of the
above order, a 500 strong rally, all outsiders, reached Machchipith
naka at around 3.10 p.m. About 6-7 police personnel also
accompanied the rally on foot, with a police van bringing up the rear. The
rally was quite unruly, with many Muslim-owned shops (including Indian
Boot House and Tower Shoes) en route being looted and burnt.
The moot question is: Why was a
procession allowed in open defiance of curfew orders? What was the police
doing when Muslim shops were being looted and burnt by the processionists?
However, these questions did not seem to trouble the police then or later.
The processionists reached Machchipith, raised provocative slogans, like "Bandiao
(abusive word to refer to Muslims), go away to Pakistan," "Babar ki
aulado, Hindustan chhod do," ("Babur’s sons, Quit India!") and
resorted to lewd behaviour, provoking the Muslims to respond with stone
throwing. It is only then that the police intervened and only Muslims were
the focus of their wrath.
Apart from the municipal councillors and
other local leaders involved, various police personnel were explicitly
named. They are 1) MS Patel of Raopura police station; 2) Bhagirathsinh
Jadeja, PI of Goonda squad; 3) PI Rao of Karelibaug police station; 4)
Kanu Patel of Karelibaug police station; and 5) Fatehsinh Patel of
Karelibaug police station. No action has been taken against them.
Taiwada, a prominent but communally
sensitive area of the walled city which has a majority of Muslim
households, but also quite a few Hindu families, was among the targets in
the second round of violence that began on March 15. There were no serious
problems between the two communities during the worst phase of violence
between February and March 1. But the area was affected in the second
phase and badly so in the third bouts of violence. It was the police that
was the source of the greatest harassment for Muslim residents.
On April 20, the police killed two
residents when they were on a night vigil outside one of the houses in the
area. The police tried to justify the firing by manufacturing a scene of
rioting. Women were subject to physical assault by the police under the
pretext of ‘combing’.
On March 15, the date on which the ‘Shiladaan’
puja was scheduled at Ayodhya, there was a lot of tension in the
area. The Muslims were repeatedly warned by the police to stay indoors,
but Hindu boys were allowed to roam around freely. The arti in the
temple that day was very aggressive and provocative. Slogans were shouted
and threats issued but the police took no action. In the evening, the
house of one Kalubhai, situated right next to the Gajrawadi Police Chowk,
was set on fire. The police posted there said that they could not do
anything and the residents themselves doused the fire. A little later,
Saiyyad Photo Studio was completely burnt. The owner, Saiyyad Masood, who
lived in the vicinity, had no option but to watch his investment of around
Rs.1.5 lakh go up in flames. "The police point was right next to the
studio, and so was a temple. If they had wanted to, they could have
prevented it… If we had stepped out, we would have been killed that
night," Masood told the Tribunal.
At night, ostensibly in response to
stone throwing by members of the minority community, the police, led by
police inspector PP Kanani of the DCB, entered the area for a combing
operation. They broke open doors of Muslim homes, beat up men and
misbehaved with the women. Deposing before the Tribunal, one resident of
Taiwada said, "We were sleeping. They broke open our door, beat us and
dragged us out. They used filthy language and openly leered at our women
(‘buri nazar’). I told them that we were businessmen, not trouble
makers but they wouldn’t listen. They damaged the furniture in our house.
They took all three of us brothers and thrashed us. A police officer
leered at my wife. God forbid, even if he’d done something to her, I was
in no position to do anything to protect her. I urged him to let at least
one of us brothers go. He replied, ‘No, we’ll burn you all alive.’ In the
lock-up, too, the police said the same thing: ‘We will burn you Muslims
alive.’ We were given neither food nor water in the lock-up. I heard them
talking of slapping a murder case on us even when no murder had taken
place and no weapons had been found on us."
The conduct of the Vadodara police
during combing operations needs special investigation. These operations
were arbitrary and brutal, with women being subjected to highly abusive
treatment. The Tribunal recorded the testimony of several witnesses who
had suffered in the police action.
Hamida Banu, (40) was arrested by around
15 policemen led by PI Kanani, on the night of March 15, when she stepped
out to go to the toilet just behind her house. She was so badly beaten
that she had four fractures on her right hand, for which she underwent
four operations at SSG Hospital. She told the Tribunal, "The police have
no right to lift a hand on women. They should not be allowed to get away
with this. Whatever happened to me happened, but other women should never
have to suffer this." A police case was registered in SSG Hospital against
the erring policemen, but no action was taken.
Apart from Hamida Banu, 13 other women
were similarly injured in police attacks that night in the Taiwada area,
all requiring medical attention. One young woman had a baby born hardly a
month earlier. The police smashed open the entrance door, which fell on
her back. They smashed her foot with the butt of a gun. This witness has
three small children. She pleaded with the police not to take away her
husband. They hit her on the back. They took away her husband after
beating him up. Another Muslim woman, who lives opposite the mandir,
said, "They beat my son-in-law a lot, upturned all the grain containers (atta
and rice) in the house, did a lot of nuksaan (damage). One of them
stepped on a 6-month-old baby who was crying a lot and said, ‘Let them all
Another victim lives in Raffai
mohalla. She is a social worker who works with widows and helps poor
people get loans. "I tried to stop the police. Afterwards, they hit me,
too, and used filthy language. I told them that I would register a case
against them. We filed a report at Jamnabai hospital. But no enquiry has
been held. Yesterday (the day before she testified before the Tribunal) I
was at Bavamanpura. A kite landed at my feet. On it was written, ‘We will
burn you, we will burn your houses and your children. We will play
Holi-Dhuleti with your blood.’ I showed it to the police
commissioner. His response was, ‘This will go on. Do we focus on you
people or focus on these people?’ I told him that we had no choice
but to defend ourselves with stones when they attack us with swords and
the police does nothing. To this, the commissioner himself said, ‘Aap
aamne saamne ladh lo’ (‘Fight it out among yourselves’)."
Incidentally, women from Taiwada had
played an active role in maintaining calm in the area by forming peace
committees (Shanti Abhiyan) and trying to dissipate tension soon after
Godhra. Even after the combing operations began, they continued to be
vigilant. Sherbano from the Shanti Abhiyan, an initiative to promote peace
in the area, told the Tribunal, "The whole area was under curfew and it
was these women who were more alert in preventing untoward incidents
instead of the police." Women kept vigil on terraces, balconies and
verandahs to prevent trouble by the police. "We had to keep the men inside
because they get beaten more easily. If we women do not do it, who will?"
asked one of the women. But trying to keep the situation from going out of
control was not easy. The area had continuously been under curfew and
everyone was tense with lack of sleep.
Witnesses from Bahar Colony on Ajwa Road
testified at length about police brutality during the second round of
violence beginning March 15. There were continued attacks on the Bahar
Colony for 72 hours. Large mobs would attack the locality even while
police patrolling was on. On March 17, around 50 women from the Bahar
Colony rushed out when there was an explosion from a hut that had been
torched. They tried to stop a police van that was driving past. The police
van drove a little distance, suddenly started reversing, and police
started firing. One man was killed on the spot and another was injured.
The FIR registered for this incident distorts the whole picture, the
police claiming that they were confronted by a mob of 1,500-2,000 when, in
fact, there were only 50 women.
The witness to this incident who deposed
before the Tribunal, told inspector VM Chauhan that if guns were targeted
at the attackers, things would not be so bad: "The inspector replied, ‘No,
only you will be shot at. Bullets will be directed only at you.’ He ended
with an order to the policemen, ‘Beat them with lathis, shoot
them.’" The witnesses have submitted full details of all the police
atrocities – photographs, FIRs, etc — to the police commissioner and the
collector. On March 18, a meeting was held with the ACP in charge, Piyush
Patel, at Farookbhai Boxwala’s house. They complained bitterly about the
mistreatment of women but despite the promise, no action was taken.
On the night of May 2, for no apparent
reason, the police entered people’s homes and beat up women. So drunk that
they could hardly walk straight, they entered homes forcibly and
mercilessly beat up women. Those named in this criminal action by the
Vadodara police were PSI Parmar of Panigate (in civilian dress) along with
about 40 constables in civvies and another 15-20 in uniform.
Bawanpura in the old city of Vadodara,
inhabited mostly by daily vegetable vendors and daily wage earners from
both communities, was targeted on March 25 (Muharram day) and again on
March 28. The following account is based on testimonies gathered from
women of the area:
Kagda Chaal in the old city of Vadodara
is a predominantly Muslim area, with a few Hindu households and two
temples amidst them, flanked by Hindu shops and households on two sides.
Hindu residents said that they had faced no problems here and that they
felt totally safe in the area. People from both communities said that they
had no problem with each other, the only problem being police atrocities
Even a 3-year-old boy, Arbaz, was beaten
by the police. There were instances of pregnant women being beaten on
their stomachs. Most of the injuries were in the lower parts of the body,
below the waist. A few women showed bruises in the groin area. A woman,
9-months pregnant, told the Tribunal, "I told them that I was pregnant (‘pet-se’).
They said that they would beat me nonetheless. My mother-in-law
pleaded that I was pregnant. They said, ‘We have to kill it before it is
born’." Unwell and elderly women were not spared either.
Many witnesses said the police had not
beaten and misbehaved with women in earlier riots. However, this time,
women were being very badly treated, badly thrashed for no reason. A
60-year-old victim was hit so hard on the stomach that the scars from an
old caesarian operation almost split open. Others were dragged by their
hair and beaten. Another woman who had recently had a tumour operation was
beaten on the back and legs. The policemen were all drunk. In many of
these cases, FIRs have been filed but no action had been taken. Many women
victims were refused treatment at Jamnabai hospital where they were told
that they had deliberately injured themselves.
Although the people of the area had not
suffered major losses and destruction in mob attacks, when the Tribunal
recorded detailed testimonies, they were in a constant state of fear and
apprehension and were bitter about the injury, abuse and humiliating
treatment that they had to endure at the hands of the police.
But it was the attack on April 19 that
proved most brutal. A PUCL-Shanti Abhiyan team submitted a report on
police atrocities committed on March 25 and April 5 to the National
Commission for Women. They also appealed to the police commissioner to
take strict action against these policemen for committing such atrocities.
At that time, the commissioner gave an assurance that such incidents would
not recur. Despite this, the police set upon the Muslims of Kagda Chawl on
On the night of April 19, sensing fresh
trouble from the Panigate police station, the men folk of Kagda Chawl had
left the area; only women and children were there when approximately 30
policemen, in both civilian clothes and uniform, forcibly entered the
Kagda Chawl area from three sides. They said that they were PI Parmar’s
staff; the women easily recognised police constables Deepak and Mahesh
Rabari in the group.
The policemen, who were very drunk and
armed with thick, metal-capped wooden lathis went on the rampage,
attacking property and people for about one hour. They broke open the
doors of the houses, smashed TV sets and furniture, scattered food items
and other household effects. They beat up nearly 20 women, their lathis
aiming particularly at their breasts, thighs, hips and arms. They also
beat up children and household animals and caused extensive damage.
Some women attempted to bar their doors
from the inside, but the police broke down the doors and started a
lathi-charge. In one house, where there was only one woman with her
8-month-old baby, the police beat the woman and flung the baby across the
room. Fortunately, the baby fell on a mattress. Filthy language
accompanied the beating. "Itni gandi gali dete the police wale, ki hum
aap ko bata bhi nahin sakte" ("They used such filthy language that we
cannot repeat them before you") the traumatised women said. "If this is
how the police are going to behave, where are we to go?" Medical
examinations were conducted on the women at Jamnabai hospital. The women
lodged an FIR at Panigate police station on the same night.
The residents of Kagda Chawl submitted a
written memorandum to the police commissioner on April 20, a copy of which
was submitted to the Tribunal. Subsequently, a Muslim police officer
called the women from Kagda Chawl and pressurised them to withdraw their
complaint. The local media only helped fan the flames by misreporting the
Muslims from this area felt deeply
betrayed by the police. Despite all their efforts to maintain peace
notwithstanding repeated provocations, it was Muslim houses that were
combed, and Muslims who were arrested and falsely charged under section
307 (attempt to murder). Speaking before the Tribunal, Mustuffa Sheikh
said that they were the ones whose houses were combed, they were the ones
whose shops were looted and then they were the ones who were charged under
sections 151 and 307. What were they to do? Who could they turn to for
help with even the police conspiring against them? Their people were
living in inhuman conditions with nothing to eat. They had left their
homes with only the clothes on their backs. They were being intimidated
The police atrocities followed reports
in The Times of India and Sandesh that a handicapped Hindu
boy had been stabbed in the area. It was later discovered that he had
sustained a self-inflicted scratch in a minor accident.
Phase III: April 26-May 2
On the night of April 30, around 1.30
a.m., two men, Abid Ibrahimbhai Delawala (26) and Noorbhai Yaroobhai
Karvania (40), were killed in police firing. The police claimed that they
were shot when police fired to disperse a mob which had attacked a temple,
tried to burn a SRP tent, and was indulging in throwing stones, bottles,
acid bulbs, etc. Two Gujarati newspapers, Sandesh and Gujarat
Samachar carried this story in their morning issue. While
correspondents of national newspapers who rushed to the area after
receiving phone calls from the locality were not allowed to enter the
area, the local VNM and DEEP networks worked under police protection to
trot out the police version.
But according to the widows of the two
victims who, along with other eyewitnesses, had made a written complaint
to the police commissioner and who also deposed before the Tribunal, the
police shot the two victims in cold-blood, without any provocation. Both
were shot in the head, indicating that the police were shooting to kill.
They have named PI Parmar and five other policemen as those responsible
for this. Family members were not allowed near the victims, who were dying
and crying out for water. The police burst tear gas shells near the two
bodies. The police said ‘pati gayu’ ("its all over") and began
dragging away the bodies as if they were dead dogs. Nobody was allowed to
accompany the bodies. The bodies were returned after the post-mortem
examination, but none of the personal effects were handed over to
Earlier, around midnight on April 26,
the police forcibly entered Muslim homes, where only women and children
were asleep since the men stayed elsewhere for their own safety. The
policemen abused them in filthy language, "Where are your bhadwas?"
"Where are your hijdas?" and threatened to sexually molest
them. A woman who deposed before the Tribunal said that the police beat
her as well as her 30-year-old sister. Her sister, who is partially
disabled and was recovering from a recent appendix operation, was beaten
on her stomach, thighs and private parts. In all, the Tribunal has details
of 13 women who were assaulted by the police at Taiwada as well as a
5-year-old child who was hit on her back with a baton. Women from Taiwada
who were brutally assaulted by the Vadodara police, led by PI Kanani, have
had to undergo prolonged sessions of physiotherapy.
Raja Rani Talav
Raja Rani Talav a Muslim-predominant
basti just behind the Panigate police station was completely peaceful
all through the two months since the Godhra incident. But on April 27, a
mob numbering several thousand people from Bhoiwada attacked the basti.
All the homes were looted while 35 houses were subsequently burnt. Two
dargahs were also burnt down and the madrassa, too, was
destroyed. (Around 520 Muslims from over 100 families took shelter in
Doodhwala Hall in Moghalwada from April 28 to May 5. A Hindu family,
Dilipbhai Patel, his wife Kokila and their children also took shelter
along with their Muslim neighbours.)
Even as they were under attack from
mobs, the police unleashed terror on the victims in the name of combing
operations – hitting people, especially women, with lathis and
rifle butts and smashing electric meters. Many women from the area, whose
testimonies have been collected, were assaulted and abused by the police.
The pattern of brute violence against Muslim women by the police here is
chillingly similar to other areas of Vadodara. It is clear that this was a
strategy adopted by sections of the police to assault, abuse and terrorise
the Muslim minority in this manner. Several women have complained about
police victimisation, harassment and violence. At least 25 women were
assaulted by the police.
Suleimani Chaal is a slum settlement at
Ajwa Road that was apparently targeted by the hired hoodlums of Shailesh
Mehta, the deputy mayor of Vadodara who is also a builder, keen on
extending his neighbouring plot of land.
Apart from the looting and damaging of
Muslim property, by the police, on the night of April 30-May 1, the
Tribunal recorded gross cases of violence against women. Pregnant women
were threatened with rape. Thirteen women were physically beaten on all
parts of their body, including private parts, and verbally abused in the
filthiest fashion. All the policemen were drunk. Young children were also
Tandalja : hope survives
An area in Vadodara that was in the news
throughout the post-Godhra violence was Tandalja. Even in places as far as
10 km away, like Gorwa, Manjalpur, Nizampura and Sama, rumours were kept
afloat by the VHP/ Bajrang Dal since March 1 about impending attacks by
Tandalja’s Muslims. The local press reinforced the baseless rumours. The
Muslim-predominant village was painted as a hotbed of weapon-wielding
criminals. A term widely used by outsiders to describe this area is ‘Mini
Pakistan’, simply because it is a Muslim majority area. Systematic
attempts were made to vilify this area and thereby also further stereotype
Muslims as bloodthirsty marauders. The Tribunal is happy to record its
deep appreciation of the tireless work of people from both communities in
Tandalja and its neighbourhood, to maintain peace, frustrating the designs
of the mischief-makers.
Situated on the western border of
Vadodara city, Tandalja is an area with about 40,000 people, spread over
some 50 housing colonies and slums. The Muslim population is about 80 per
cent and Hindus constitute about 20 per cent. Besides Gujaratis, the Hindu
population includes people from the Sikar district of Rajasthan and
Agarwals from UP. Tandalja also has a small Christian population.
The slums and some of the housing
colonies in the area have a mixed population. After the 1969 riots, the
area provided shelter to Muslim and Hindu refugees from Vadodara as also
from villages like Jambusar. In the early 1980s, middle-class and upper
middle-class housing societies came up in the area. Many of these
societies were developed through partnerships of Hindu and Muslim
builders, partnerships that continue even today.
There are a number of temples and
mosques in the area. Ibrahimbhai, a Muslim, built one of the temples,
Shankar Ka Mandir; which shares a wall with a masjid. Another
mandir, the Raneshwar Mandir, has been there for much longer. New
temples have come up near Muktinagar, Gautam Sarabhai housing colony and
Mahabalipuram, predominantly Hindu residential colonies. There are ten
mosques in the area. After the1982 riots in Vadodara, the Dar-ul-Uloom
was shifted from Mandvi, in the walled city, to Tandalja.
While Tandalja village has substantial
mixed areas of Hindu and Muslim houses, in some of the newly developed
parts, Hindu and Muslim areas are clearly demarcated. However, there is
plenty of social interaction between Hindus and Muslims; they visit each
other, are invited to each other’s weddings, and also eat together. Hindus
and Muslims give gifts and sometimes perform ‘kanyadaan‘ at each
other’s weddings. Muslim- and Hindu-owned shops are intermingled; not one
of these was touched throughout the carnage.
Until 1994-5, corporators from the area
were always from the Congress. The presence of the BJP in local politics
is a post-Advani rath yatra (1989-90) phenomenon. It was only after
the rath yatra that the BJP was able to win three out of four seats
(the electoral ward includes many surrounding Hindu societies as well).
The BJP has also won a few supporters amongst the Muslims.
As soon as violence erupted in other
parts of the city, residents of the area got together and formed peace
committees. Muslims as well as Hindus reached out to as many adjacent
societies as possible to build an atmosphere of mutual trust. Thanks to
this, there was no incident of communal violence, burning or looting in
the area in the two months following the Godhra incident, despite the
violence raging in other parts of Vadodara and the influx of thousands of
refugees from affected areas.
Often round-the-clock vigils were
maintained. The strategy of the BJP-VHP was to create insecurity in the
minds of Hindus warning them that the other side would attack if they were
not vigilant. While vigils help maintain peace, youth organised for
‘self-defence’ can easily be given a different turn, with rumours flowing
thick and fast. It is especially creditworthy that in this delicate
atmosphere the residents of Tandalja kept in constant touch with each
other and thus frustrated the designs of the motivated rumour-mongers.
During the first two days of violence,
two laaris (handcarts) belonging to Muslims were burnt in the
adjoining Hindu area, allegedly by ‘outsiders’. Yet the Muslims remained
calm and did not allow their locality to be held to ransom. On the other
hand, some representatives from surrounding Hindu societies visiting
Tandalja were so moved by the condition of the refugees that they decided
to contribute food grains to the relief camp. With this gesture, mutual
trust became even stronger.
Some ground rules were set. If anybody
had any suspicion about movements from the other side or any rumours were
spread, they must immediately contact responsible persons from the other
side and verify the facts. In this way, an active system of communication
was developed between the 50 housing settlements so that, within a matter
of minutes, rumours were quashed. On at least two occasions, rumours were
dispelled thanks to the swift system of communication that was evolved.
On one occasion, a Bajrang Dal-VHP mob
of about 500-600 people from outside got as far as Ashwamegh society, a
Hindu residential area adjacent to Tandalja. The mob had come to attack
Tandalja. Ashwamegh was part of the peace committee. Local leaders from
Ashwamegh stood between the mob and Tandalja. They did not allow the mob
to cross the road. The masterminds of the mob later sent bangles to the
residents of Ashwamegh, to suggest that they were cowards for not
supporting the attack on Muslims for the cause of ‘Hindutva’. But
the people of Ashwamegh said that their understanding of Hinduism was
Other efforts were also made to generate
fear and tension here. On March 19, at around 1.30 a.m., Hindus from a
small settlement of about 25 huts fled on being fed the information that
there was a plan to burn the huts at night. Witnesses who deposed before
the Tribunal said that they had learnt of a sinister plan to burn these
huts at night with the connivance of the police and later blame it on the
residents of Tandalja. A spotlight was quickly organised by the peace
committees to generate security among the slum dwellers. For three days
and nights the entire neighbourhood protected the empty huts so that no
outsider could come and burn them. After a few days the people of the slum
returned to their huts.
Early in the morning of April 19, one
Chandrakant Patel, who managed a milk distribution centre on the main road
outside Tandalja, was murdered by two unknown persons. According to police
reports, two motorcyclists came from the direction of Atladra and shot him
at point-blank range, killing him on the spot. Patel was politically
connected with the BJP. Tension developed in Tandalja following the
incident. Both Hindu and Muslim community leaders expressed their grief
over the death. They condemned the attack and observed a spontaneous
bandh for the same. According to preliminary police investigations,
the assault may have been a case of personal rivalry.
Both these incidents had the potential
for sparking trouble in the area. But the peacemakers from both sides were
vigilant and could check such elements from within as well as outside the
area. The role of the police, particularly in the second incident, was
positive and contributed to the peacekeeping efforts. The fact that this
was a neighbourhood where communities were mixed, could interact and
thereby develop faith in each other and maintain peace, only emphasises
why the Sangh Parivar finds it critical to discourage social
intercourse across religious communities and enforce ghettoisation.
The first batch of victims of violence
from elsewhere in Vadodara arrived here on the evening of February 28.
Thereafter, a continuous stream of refugees poured into the area. Some
came on their own because they had relatives here, others because they
were aware that they could get support from their community members and
still more were brought by police under police protection. Formal relief
camps were functioning at four places in the area from March 1 and at one
point as many as 5,000 refugees were being provided shelter. To protest
against the government and the police’s failure to protect Muslims
elsewhere in Vadodara, those in-charge of the relief centres in Tandalja
refused to accept relief material from the government when this was
offered at a later date. That Tandalja both opened its heart to the
victims of violence from other parts of Vadodara and simultaneously
participated in keeping peace in its own area makes their effort even more
Several villages around Vadodara city
were targeted on March 1, 2002. The Tribunal received statements and
testimonies from 66 victims living in relief camps who are originally from
A mob of between 500 and 1000 people
attacked Muslim villagers in Atladra on March 1, 2002, after which 60-65
people took shelter at Saudagar Park (Tandalja).
According to testimonies received by the
Tribunal, the mob came at around 11.30 a.m. and, after looting the shops
near the bus stand, set them on fire. The mob then began looting the
utensils, grain and provision stores owned by Muslims. They even carted
away the windows and doors before setting the structures on fire.
Sulemanbhai of Patel Falia said that the shops were looted but the
houses were not, because there are Hindu-owned houses in the locality as
According to Rehmanbhai, the aim of the
mob was to cause economic damage exclusively to the Muslim community. So,
for example, Sulemanbhai’s paan shop was moved a small distance to
save a neighbour’s shop, and then burnt using kerosene torches. About five
shops and one house were burnt, after which the mob went towards the post
office and burnt Moosabhai Mohammad’s flourmill, two-wheeler and cycles.
That night the rampaging mob went to
Kalali crossing. Ibrahimmiya of Kalali crossing said that by this time, it
was 1,000-1,500 strong. Ibrahimmiya fled the scene, after which his house
was looted by the mob. Victim-survivors say that Arunaben Pandya, the
former BJP corporator, helped the mob identify Muslim houses. Yogesh Patel
of the village, Hari Krishan Patel and Nikeshbhai G Patel were also
responsible for inciting the mobs. The victim-survivors also stated that
when the police came to the area to investigate, the very people who had
abetted the violence plied the policemen with food and drinks. They also
said that when victims went to register an FIR, the police refused to
Bajwa village was targeted between March
1-3, 2002. Bajwa or Bajuwa is an old village which is gradually being
absorbed by Vadodara’s petrochemical complex. It also has a few small
industries. Rajasthan colony on Karachiya road comprises 150 to 200
housing units, of which 12 to 15 belong to Muslims.
According to a witness whose statement
was placed before the Tribunal, the attack in this village took place on
the afternoon of March 1. The mobs started attacking Muslim shops and
houses, and then setting them on fire. They reached Karachiya around 2.30
p.m., Dhankuva at around 4 p.m., and finally, Rajasthan colony at around 7
p.m. Sajjak Ali’s house was the first one to be looted, even the ornaments
for his daughter’s wedding were robbed and then the house was set on fire
with petrol. After that Saiyyad Sikandar’s house was burnt. A scrap
dealer’s house was razed to the ground and a Hanuman temple was built in
At around 8 p.m., 35 Muslim men and
women from Karachiya village finally approached the army unit near Gujarat
Refinery for shelter. By the afternoon of March 2, the numbers had
increased to 200, with other refugees having arrived from Dhankuva. All of
them were fed, sheltered, given blankets, tarpaulin and utensils by the
army for two or three days. On March 2 and 3, Jagdish Patel, Dhirubhai
Patel and about 10 others came and told the army men to expel the refugees
from the camp and even some police officials, including PSI Sarvaiya,
asked the army to hand them over. But the army—including a commander
called Jasvinder Singh, V.S. Reddy and Cdr. Javed—remained supportive.
On March 2, the victim-survivors were
informed that the mobs had looted their belongings and set fire to their
homes. They repeatedly contacted the police commissioner through some
prominent people from Maheshwari Society, but received no help. They
requested police protection but the police bluntly told them, "If you are
brave, leave, since we do not have the manpower to provide you
protection." After three days, the refugees were finally sent to Chistiya
Masjid in Tandalja under military escort, and on March 4 they left Bajwa
When the victims later contacted their
neighbours, they were told that those involved in the violence were still
going around saying that no Muslims should be allowed back into the
village. The mobs were led, among others, by Jagdish Armanbhai Patel and
Arun Patel of Karachiya village, and Sampat Vadhri of Rajasthan colony.
Mukesh Patel was also a part of the mob. The victims stated that Jayaben
Thakkar, BJP MP, incited the mob which included a number of women. A lot
of the attackers belonged to the Bajrang Dal unit of Chhani village.
Others belonged to Karachiya village. At Bajwa, PSI Sarvaiya had
apparently told the Bajrang Dal volunteers and Jayaben Thakkar that they
should move on to other places and could do what they liked over there.
Bhayli is a village on the outskirts of
Vadodara on the Vadodara-Padra Road, which was attacked on February 28 and
March 1, 2002. The people here make, among other things, mattresses for a
living. On February 28, a mob of around 100 people came to the village.
About eight quintals of cotton belonging to one Muslim family were burnt,
as was the mattress-making machine. The mob returned on the evening of
March 1, took out all the family’s belongings from the house and burnt
everything. According to the family, the house itself was spared because
it is adjacent to a Hindu house.
In Bhayli, the Masjidwala Falia
was not damaged. There is a police chowki there with four
policemen. When the trouble started, there were two policemen present. The
mob attacks took place in the presence of the police, who remained silent
spectators. The victims suspected that the police had been bribed. Some of
them complained, "If we go to tell the police they abuse us. ‘We’ll fire
on you,’ is what they say."
The victims had to make arrangements for
food, tea etc. for these policemen. Every day, IR Vohra had to give them
grain, milk and cash. The police warned that unless they were taken care
of, they would no longer protect the victims and their property. So the
terrorised Muslims took turns to get food on credit and give it to the
The victims said that they were looted
by people from the neighbourhood. They said they were ready to identify
their belongings and take them back if the police provided protection. The
victims who came from Bhayli to the Saudagar Park Camp in Tandalja said
all their businesses had been destroyed. About 25 out of 70 houses were
damaged, four flourmills, two tailoring shops, and a flour-shop were
broken. Of about 50 neem trees, half were cut down. The room
attached to the cemetery was broken as well.
In Samiala, two houses, one shop and one
tempo were burnt on March 1,2002. Although the driver of the tempo was a
Hindu, the vehicle was burnt because it belonged to a Muslim. The Muslim
families staying in the village were not willing to give further details.
The sarpanch, Bachhubhai Vaidya, said that all details regarding
the incident had been collated and were available with the talati.
He also said that the people there lived peacefully and that there was a
police point in the village.
Laxmipura is a village near Samiala. On
March 1, 2002, at about 10.30 p.m., a mob started burning the houses of
Muslims in the village. PI PRGehlot of the Vadodara Rural police was
present during the attacks. All 38 Muslim houses in the village were
destroyed over several days, and the attackers, Hindus, told Muslim
villagers not to return to the village. On March 1, all the Muslim
residents had to flee Laxmipura with nothing but the clothes on their
backs. They left for Padra, Samiala and other areas, but the looting and
burning continued well into May.
An FIR was filed by PI Gehlot himself;
victims said it was highly misleading. Around mid-March, panchnamas
were made, but the attacks continued. The victims made several
representations to the collector and DSP, but nothing had come of
them,even two months later, and the attacks on the remains of the Muslim
The following is a list of those named
by witnesses as persons responsible for the attacks. The victims had been
demanding that these names be included in the FIR, which had not been
done. None of these people had been arrested; on the contrary, some
innocent Hindus from the area were arrested by the police. The names of
the accused from Samiala are: Narendrabhai Gordhanbhai Vaid (sarpanch),
Kamlesh Gordhanbhai Patel (dy sarpanch), Bhogilal Mohanbhai Patel,
Mahendrabhai Harmanbhai Patel, Kishorebhai Laljibhai Baria, Natubhai
Dayabhai Patel, Jagdishbhai Dayabhai Patel, Hiteshbhai Bacchubhai Patel.
The names of the accused from Laxmipura are: Bhagatsinh Gaikwad (panchayat
member), Labhubhai (gramsewak), Bharatbhai (Doctor), Rameshbhai
Bakorbhai Solanki, Chiragbhai Maganbhai Panchal, Narendrabhai Raojibhai
Patel, Lakshmansinh Bodana, Poonambhai Solanki, Ranjitsinh Chatrasinh
Gohil, Umeshbhai Natubhai Rawal, Kantilal Bhatt, Shantilal Shanabhai
Vaghri, Rameshbhai Chimanbhai Padiyar, Punitbhai Solanki, Sukhabhai Vaghri,
Dilipsinh Gaikwad, Sureshbhai Rajput, Chandrasinh Maganbhai Rajput,
Dilipbhai Shantilal Valand.
Maretha village was attacked between
February 28 and March 2, 2002.This village is on the outskirts of Vadodara
city, near Maneja. Out of a total of 400 houses in Maretha, 73 belong to
Muslims and the rest to Hindus.
According to residents, arguments
between the two communities started on the morning of February 28, but
were immediately resolved through talks. The shops were kept closed on
February 28 as well as on March 1. Threats to the Muslim community started
on February 28, and on the next day, 73 Muslim families left their homes
and hid in different places. Only one family stayed back. Shops,
dargahs and mosques were looted, and then the shops were burnt. Twelve
shops and five flourmills were destroyed. On March 2, at noon, some more
shops were burnt. That night, all the remaining Muslim properties in
Maretha were burnt. Most of the fields had vegetable crops. These were
destroyed; the Hindu villagers let loose their animals in the fields. It
was harvesting time, which meant a complete loss of income. Water pumps
and diesel sets were stolen.
Victims said that the main person behind
the violence was Sanabhai Ishwarbhai Thakur, who called people from the
neighbouring villages of Maneja, Tarsali and Chappad to attack Muslim
houses in Maretha. The mobs that attacked Maretha were led by Bipinbhai
Patel of Alamgar, Sukhdeo Thakur, the sarpanch of Talsat,
Pramodbhai of Chappad, and some others.
On March 2, 2002, at about 2 p.m.,
Maneja village was attacked. Nearly 100 houses were completely destroyed
and 6 people were grievously injured. All the Muslims ran for their lives.
Between March 2 and March 12, the mobs looted all the Muslim homes in the
On March 2, the mob started looting
houses and shops. A police van finally arrived, but only after the houses
and shops had been burnt. The police personnel said that their numbers
were too few and they could do nothing. They refused to provide Muslim
villagers any protection. After three hours, at 4.30 p.m., five police
vans arrived. The police then told the victims that they had no vehicles
and that they should arrange for their own transport out of Maneja. With
great difficulty, a family managed to contact acquaintances in Gorwa. The
people in Gorwa were ready to come there with a tempo, but said they would
wait for the Maneja victims at a certain point since they could not move
around easily because of the curfew. The tempo was made to wait at that
point for two hours, and the police even stalled all efforts to take a
dead body to Gorwa.
The mobs in Maneja village were led by
Sanjay Chiman Thakur, Mahendra Magan Thakur and Vishnu Raisingh Bhuria
(all residents of Bhathuji falia), Sana Thakur (a resident of
Santoshi Nagar) and Prakash Mulchand Wagh (a resident of Magan Park). All
these are well-known members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal. Sarpanch
Kantaben Sanabhai Vasava was also one of the leaders of the mob, which
comprised of people from the backward castes and Thakurs. Nilesh Bhogilal
Patel, Mahesh Haribhai Rabari and Raghubahi Bharwad, all Bajrang Dal
leaders, also led the mob. In addition, Veenabhai Chagganbhai Patel, a
former BJP leader, Govindbhai Ramsibhai Rabari, Haribhai Ichhabhai Rabari
and Narayanbhai Chottabhai Thakur were also named.
Ankodia, Koyali, Sevasi
In Koyali village next to the Vadodara
refinery, two laaris (handcarts) and one shop were burnt near the
masjid. According to newspapers (The Times of India/The Indian
Express), on March 3, 2002, two nitroglycerine sticks were found by
the police in the Koyali mosque. A man had also received burns in a godown
there in the first few days of violence. In Sevasi village, one Muslim
house with a shop attached to it was burnt. In Ashapuri, a hamlet in
Sevasi, a shop belonging to a Muslim was burnt.
Sokhada village is situated 3 to 4 kms
from the Gujarat State Fertilisers Corporation (GSFC) plant near Vadodara
on the Vadodara-Ahmedabad Highway. It is a prosperous village, known as
the headquarters of one of the Swaminarayan sects. Attacks on Muslim homes
and properties took place between February 28 and March 5, 2002. The
refugees then shifted to Tundav.
According to victims, they were aware
that the Bajrang Dal had been holding meetings in Sokhada, but they had
not viewed these as communal at the time. They also reported that they had
heard that sadhus from the Hari Prasad Swaminarayan Mandir had been
using slogans to ‘awaken Hindus’, saying that the country belonged to
Hindus not Muslims, that the Ram Temple had to be built, and so forth.
Fifteen days before the incident on
February 28, one Hashubhai Patel, alias Tikka, had said that the Hindus
would destroy the mosque.
There was tension on the evening and
night of February 27, and there was a meeting of a few Hindus at the local
Gujarati school. The trouble started on February 28 at around 8 p.m. when
a mob of between 500 and 700 people, all from Sokhada itself, gathered and
started breaking the cabins and shops of Muslims. According to women
victims in Tundav, at 8 p.m. the sarpanch had come and told all of
them to have their dinner. But then, a mob from the village (led by the
sarpanch, Mahendrasinh Patel) attacked the dargah, masjid
and then the shops through the night. The people watched from their
terraces and shouted ‘Har har Mahadev’, ‘Have Miyanbhai
Ungo Tame’ (‘Now you Muslims will sleep.’) The crowd carried iron
rods, dharias (sickles) and axes.
About eight or nine shops were burnt
that night. Later, another 19 shops were burnt and the Muslims were
threatened and told to leave their houses, or they would be killed. After
the shops were burnt that night, the sarpanch told the Muslim
villagers that they could return to their houses as nothing further would
happen. Nevertheless, the people could hear things being broken and see
houses being attacked around them. They could not sleep that night.
Those with children fled the village on
the night of February 28. On March 1, the mob attacked again between 8-9
p.m. Most of the 100-odd houses were destroyed and more people started
fleeing the village. They hid in the nearby fields and watched as the mobs
looted and burnt their homes, workplaces and places of worship.
The masjid in the central part of
the village, which shares a wall with a temple, was completely damaged
(including the first floor and roof of the semi-basement/ground floor)
over the nights of February 28 and March 1, 2002. The dargah and
shrines were all destroyed. It appeared that the masjid had been
destroyed with the intention of creating a second entrance/pathway to the
Almost all the 100-odd houses belonging
to Muslims were looted, destroyed and burnt – in that order. According to
eyewitnesses, the mobs broke down doors, took away all the vessels and
other belongings in tempos. In most cases, the land was levelled after
ransacking and burning the houses. There were about 15 Muslim-owned big
and small shops, all of which were looted and burnt.
This continued for five days. There
were, at most, a couple of cases where Hindus helped the victims, but
these were in the poorest sections. The plight of the Muslim poor was
pathetic, with all their carefully accumulated possessions destroyed
For a few days, the Muslims of Sokhada
hid in the fields around the village and sought shelter in nearby
villages. According to Feroz Mohammed Malik, the Hindus had warned that
they would be killed if they returned. Nathhubhai Chhottubhai and Salim
Ashraf tried returning to Sokhada but were threatened by Jagdish Tailor (‘Mian
ke body ko kaat dalo’ - ‘Cut the Mians up’ ).
In Sokhada, many women were brutally
abused – both sexually and verbally. One woman victim was sexually
assaulted by 10 Hindu men, another was taken away and physically abused.
The women found it difficult to describe the brutality and viciousness of
the attacks. Many witnesses, Mehmooda, Bismalla (who had a baby with her),
Mahmuda Badran, Madina, Mumtaz and Sabeera (also with babies), and Amina
Badshah shared details of this.
One witness, Roshanben, said that what
they most needed at that point was some assurance of physical security.
They also needed material to set up their homes again. "My two sons are in
Shivam High School in Sokhada. We rang up the teacher (Sir). He told us to
send the certificate (An application stating that they cannot do the exam,
on the basis of which they would be promoted to the next class). They
cannot do the exams. We have wasted one year’s fees. He says they will
consider promoting them if we send the certificate."
The brutal displacement of Muslims from
Sokhada had an eerie postscript — the reported change of the village name
to Hari Dham Sokhada. Apart from having lost their property and
livelihood, those displaced were afraid to return to an environment of
terror and insecurity. As one woman told the team, "We don’t want to go
back, suppose they do this again. We heard the crowd say ‘Miyabhai ni
chhokri ni izzat looto’ (‘Rape the daughters of Muslims.’) If
there is bandobast (police protection), we will go back. If someone
takes the responsibility (jawaabdari), we will go." Ameena, an
elderly woman, agreed, "They will burn us while we’re asleep. It is not
worth going back… the sarpanch came and told us don’t leave your
homes, don’t go anywhere. But that night itself they burnt our houses…"
The Sokhada women said that the sarpanch and the Patels of the
village had said that if they came back, "we will looto their
izzat (rape them); we will force them to flee without their
The Sokahada sarpanch has held
office for nine years and the people cannot get over what he did. "We’ve
lived here for generations, never before has something like this
According to victims, a mob of 500 from
Patelgaon caused most of the damage. Motiya Pura, Lalji Pura and Vashna
have also been named – they apparently distributed alcohol to the
villagers who went on looting and burning sprees after drinking. One
Madhusudhanbhai Muljibhai Amerikawala from the USA, who was present during
the initial days of the looting/burning, reportedly encouraged and urged
the mob to go ahead and make a good job of it. One of the victims,
Nizambhai Abbasbhai, saw and heard Amerikawala saying that he was prepared
to spend about Rs. 1 crore for this. Other prime instigators were the
sarpanch, Mahendrabhai Ramanbhai Patel and Jagdishbhai Mohanbhai
Tailor who, the people say, was drunk most of the time. According to
eyewitnesses, those actively involved in the destruction of the mosque
were Hiteshbhai Purushottam (STD Pangallawalla), Manojbhai
Thakorebhai Patel (newspaper dealer) and Sanjaybhai Thakorebhai. Hydermiya
Chandmian testified that he had given 12 names to the police, but FIRs had
been lodged against only 6 of them. The victims also said that they had
repeatedly tried to contact the police (562600). Each time they were told
by one Leelaben that the police van would be sent, but the police never
One woman victim told the team, "Three
policemen came, roamed around and went away. On the afternoon of February
28, the police was there, they were there at night. We couldn’t see them
around – they ran away. With a mob of 1000-2000, who would remain
FIRs were filed at Badarpur, but the
police did not come to take statements. Copies of the FIRs were also
submitted to the Tribunal.
Tundav has a population of 800 (50 per
cent Muslims and 50 per cent Hindus). Almost 90 households of refugees
came here from Sokhada village to stay with relatives and friends. But in
May there were only around 50 people from Sokhada still living there –
half the original inmates had moved to Gothada, and some others to Savli
The Tundav population, both Hindus and
Muslims, hosted a kitchen run on local donations for about 300 persons
every day. The women told the team, "We live in harmony, our village is
our family. No one from outside can come and take us away from here. If
anyone dares to come, they won’t be able to go back." The sarpanch
of Tundav village is Pratapsingh Bharatsinh Rathore. The ex-sarpanch
The population of Asoj is 5500. There
are about 120 Patel and 30 Muslim families in this village. A Shanti
Sabha (Peace Forum) was formed in Asoj and there was no problem there.
The population of Manjusar village is
around 5000, with about 400 Muslims. Manjusar was affected in the violence
and about 20 cabins belonging to Muslims were burnt. The 40-50 Muslim
households were generally undisturbed, except for the house of Syed
Hussain Mian Bapu Mian (loss of Rs 1-1.5 lakh), who did farming.
Asraf Malik, Mir Sahab Goram Khan Pathan
and their two brothers, all long-term employees of Vadodara Tiles, were
dismissed by their boss on March 3, 2002, because he did not dare face the
wrath of the mob because of their presence. Vadodara Tiles is jointly
owned by Maheshbhai Govindbhai Patel (from Morbi) and Dineshbhai Patel.
Sadduben Ashrafbhai worked as a plasterer for nine years in Vadodara
Tiles, before being fired on February 28, 2002. Ten other workers of the
company were also dismissed on February 28. Some then went to Khamba,
Khanpur and elsewhere.
Rabiaben Mirsab Pathan, 35, has a
10-year-old daughter, Shabana. She and her husband both worked for
Vadodara Tiles and they lived on the factory premises. Her daughter
studied in Class 4 in a school in Manjusar. Her brother Zakir Hussain
worked in the neighbouring company (Jagadamba Tiles). He also fled the
village after violence broke out. Rabiaben said, "They (people from the
village) came to hit us on February 28, 2002. The Seth (boss) told
us to leave...We didn’t recognise the people in the mob because we are
pardesi (from another area). When the mob came, the Seth threw
us out in half an hour. We couldn’t even collect our things. We walked all
the way here, eight of us, we left at 2 p.m. on March 1. We reached here (Tundav)
around 4-5 p.m. We stayed in a school in Tundav for 15 days, and have now
shifted to a rented house in the village (Tundav). We have not found any
work as yet. They took away our four goats…" The family hailed from Kanba
in Borsad taluka. They could not go to Kanba because Muslims had
fled from there too. They did not know where to go. They could not even
phone and find out where the Muslim villagers from Kanba were.
There are 200 Patel families in Chappad,
which is close to Bhayli village. Yakubbhai Rehmanbhai Mustafa, grain
kirana (provisions) shopkeeper, was the only resident of Chappad whose
house was burnt, along with his shop on February 28, 2002. His mother,
Doriben Rehmanbhai, 60, was widowed ten years ago. She has two sons,
Yakubbhai (30 years), who is an epileptic, and Mafatbhai (40 years).
At 9 p.m. on February 28, the dairy
horn/whistle was blown as a signal for the Patels to gather. The mob
surrounded the Muslims. There were 60 persons, all from the village. They
shouted, "Kill the men, leave the women."
Doriben said that they hid for a couple
of hours in their Waghri neighbour’s house before going into the fields.
They then phoned her son-in-law, who came and took them away. They
walked 15 kms to Sarsavni and spent two nights there. The mob looted
Doriben’s house and then burnt it. They took away her goats and chickens.
They suffered losses amounting to around Rs. 1-1.5 lakh. While the mob
burnt down Doriben’s house, they managed to save the Waghri neighbours’
house from burning down. The family had been told not to return to Chappad.
The perpetrators of the looting and
arson were: The sarpanch, Pramodbhai Shankarbhai Patel, Rajubhai
Shankarbhai Patel, the sarpanch’s daughter-in-law(who was seen
sitting behind him on the scooter when the mob came), Pradipbhai Tarjabhai
Patel, Manojbhai Laljibhai Patel, Somabhai Himmatbhai Patanwala, Pramod
Thakkar, Pradip Patel, Jyotishbhai Vasava and Kanu Ratilal Vasava.
Ranoli is located next to the Gujarat
Refinery. Many of the residents are lower-level employees of the Refinery
and of other petrochemical industries in the area. There are mixed
bastis of migrant workers around Ranoli. Refugees from Ranoli were
present at a relief camp in Tandalja, Vadodara.
There are 25 Muslim families living in
Ranoli, which is around 17-18 kms from Vadodara. The other residents are
all Hindus, numbering 5000 or so. Some of these Muslims had small shops,
while others worked as daily wage earners or in the local cinema hall,
Dawal Cinema. Stoning began on March 1, 2002, and the Muslims were told by
local people to leave the area. The local sarpanch, Chandrakant
Patel, was the main instigator. The Muslims ran and hid in the fields
"like animals, without anything to eat for 2-3 days." One of them had a
mobile phone and kept calling the police, although they were scared to
tell the police where they were hiding. But the control room repeatedly
told them that there was no help for them. They made their way to Vadodara,
having lost everything.
The mob comprised about 100 people and
included the sarpanch of Ranoli and his sons (Kirti and another
one). Kaushik Patel, an employee of GACL, also took part in the looting.
Usmanbhai, an employee of Gujarat Dyestuff lived in
Ishwarbhai Ni Chaali in Ranoli. On March 1, at around 3.00 p.m., when mobs
advanced towards his home, he fled with his family to Pharma SMX, Gujarat
Dyestuff. Later, he found out that his house had been completely looted.
The victim said the house had not been set on fire because it belongs to a
Hindu. The family went to the Jawahar Nagar police in Ranoli at around 10
p.m. on March 3, 2002. The police then escorted them to Musra Park and
sheltered them in a building under construction. By March 14, there were
already about 40 people staying there and the kitchen fed about 180
The Tribunal recorded the testimonies of
18 witnesses from the Chhotaudaipur tribal belt in Vadodara district and
received statements from another 17. This area saw unfortunate attacks by
the instigated Adivasi section of the population, which has been
influenced by the BJP and VHP systematically over the past years. Kanwat,
Tejgadh, Panwad and other villages in this region have been virtually
wiped clean of any Muslim population. Shops and homes have been looted,
destroyed and then burnt, often in the presence of the police. The VHP had
been having late-night meetings with Adivasis for two months before the
Godhra incident. Chhotaudaipur is located close to the Madhya Pradesh
border where on January 17, the RSS had held a massive two-day meet of
The violence in Tejgadh took place from
March 2 onwards, though tension had been brewing since the day of the
Godhra incident. Witness Khatri Abdulkader Nishar Ahmed who has lodged
FIRs against both the SP Keshav Kumar and the collector, …… has detailed
the cynical manipulation of the Adivasi population against Muslims. The
other complainants are Khatri Usmangani Daudji, Khatri Daudji, Massombhai
V, Khatri Mahmedji Umerji, Khatri MY, Khatri Ahmed Ahmedji, Fakirmohammed,
Khatri Yusuf Umerji, Kureshi Amjadali, Khatri Abdul Majid A Kadar, Khatri
Shabbirbhai M, Khatri Abdul Kader Mahmoodji, Syyed Mahboobali Husseinmiya,
Khatri Suleimanji Usmanji, Khatri Abdul Karim Usmanji and Khatri Ahmedji
These witnesses have stated that on
February 27, the day of the Godhra train killings, there was complete
peace in their village. The next day, the traders of the majority
community, including the sarpanch and the deputy sarpanch,
had requested Bohra Muslims to shut their shops in response to the call of
Gujarat bandh. To show their opposition to the inhuman killings on
the train, the Muslims had closed their shops all over. The next day, on
hearing about Bharat bandh, the minorities again kept their shops
closed to show their opposition to the train killings. On the third day,
all the shops in the village had opened as usual.
There was, however, an uneasy feeling
prevalent in the village. On March 2, the village sarpanch came to
the area. While he was there, a person from the minority community, Khatri
Yusufji Daudji, suggested to him that in order to maintain peace in the
village, they should call a meeting of the Peace Committee so that through
an exchange of confidence in each other, peace could be maintained. The
sarpanch informed them that there was no need to call a meeting of the
Peace Committee and no reason to be worried.
But Muslims began to suspect that some
scheme was being hatched in the village, and 4 families of the minority
community living in the mixed locality of Limdi market came to live in
Tejgadh on March 1. On March 3, around 10 o’clock at night, the
sarpanch came to this area and told Muslims that they should not sit
around in groups but stay in their houses, otherwise he would invoke
section 144 and arrest them under it. Muslims, however, replied that they
needed to be awake and in groups to protect their properties, as one
jamadar and three police constables at the village outpost were not
enough to protect the village property. In this way, the night of March 3
passed in uneasy peace.
On March 4, through an inhabitant of the
village, Abdul Latif Rehmanji Khatri, Muslims informed the leader of the
BJP, Ashwinbhai Rawal (village Chichod), that as the atmosphere of the
village was not good, he should use his position to contact the zilla
police chief and get more policemen. To this Rawal replied that he was
going to Chhotaudaipur right then to make appropriate arrangements.
But up to the evening of March 4, no
additional police force was seen. At about 11.05 that night, a Muslim
farmer, Yakubji Daudji’s shop was set on fire. Fifteen minutes later, the
shops and buildings of the minority community situated in Limdi market
were also set on fire, even as 8 persons of the minority community were
present at the spot. They saw with their own eyes that a crowd of 150 to
200 people was screaming and howling, spreading fear through the village.
The Muslims who were present told the
jamadar on duty to stop the crowd from indulging in arson. He replied
that as the place had already been set on fire, he was going to the police
station to call the fire brigade on the wireless. Saying this, he left the
place with his staff. But on the spot was Home Guard commandant,
Arvindbhai Desaibhai Patel, who was performing his duty.
Meanwhile, on noticing the Muslims
standing there, the crowd rushed towards them. The Muslims ran into their
area to save their lives. Just then, the telephone and electricity
connections in the Muslims area went off. Half an hour later, the water
tanker of the fire brigade arrived but the unruly crowd did not allow the
brigade to do its job because of which the fire continued raging.
In the meantime, more police arrived
from Chhotaudaipur and started firing tear gas shells. As this seemed to
have no effect, they started firing in the air. When even that was not
effective, they thought it their duty to fire into the crowd. Meanwhile,
the Muslim houses and shops in Limdi market continued to burn. Then, from
a rear approach road to the market, on Kikawala Road, another mob arrived,
screaming and howling, to set fire to the Muslim houses. They were also
In Limdi market, PSI Pandya, who was
performing his duty, started firing tear gas shells. This had no effect on
the crowd, and a cabin near the bus stand was set on fire. As the violence
continued, the police had no alternative but to start firing in which, as
per the witness’ knowledge, 4 to 5 persons were injured. The crowd took
the injured people and ran away with them.
At that time, the mamlatdar of
Chhotaudaipur and the SP arrived on the spot. The whole night was spent in
great anxiety. In the morning, members of the minority community went to
meet the PSI on duty, Pandya. The PSI informed them that the previous
night, he was given orders to fire on the crowd but now he had
instructions from above not to fire and so would act accordingly. He added
that one person had been injured in the firing the previous night and his
condition was serious. If he died, the police was apprehensive that the
Adivasis of the surrounding villages would attack Muslims during the
funeral procession. He, therefore, advised the minority community to leave
the village in order to save their lives.
In view of this, 210 people left Tejgadh
village for Bodeli, where they took shelter with their relatives and
acquaintances. The report of these 210 people was given to the Bodeli
police station. More than two months later, they were still sheltered in
Bodeli. From the time they moved out up to mid-May, when they deposed
before the tribunal, Muslim shops and houses were continuously being first
looted and then set on fire. This went on for weeks but the police took no
appropriate action. In the above-mentioned incidents, at least 65
properties (40 houses and 25 shops) were looted and burnt down. The damage
is estimated at about Rs. 1.5 crore. Refugees took shelter in Bodeli and
were living there under terrible conditions with no basic amenities.
On March 10, in village Panwad, 12 km
from Kanwat, tempos and trucks, houses, shops and cabins of Muslims were
looted and set on fire by mobs from the surrounding villages. The incident
took place on the very day on which the SRP and the BSF forces were
withdrawn from Panwad.
Panwad is located within a largely
Adivasi area. There are over 600 houses in Panwad, of which 200 belonged
to Muslims. Muslims have been living in Panwad for seven generations,
during which time there have been no incidents of communal violence. They
say that Muslims and Adivasis used to attend each other’s functions and
were on cordial terms. Banias and Dalits also live in the same village.
Most of the Muslims who have had to leave Panwad were petty traders with
paan-beedi shops and other small businesses, or worked in other
shops, dealt in forest produce, or took on small contracts for
construction material. None of them own much land or have any money in the
bank. Most trading activities were carried on with Chhotaudaipur and
According to victim–survivors from
Panwad, over the past two months nightly meetings were held among the
Adivasis. "We never bothered about them. People from the VHP, Bajrang Dal
and RSS would address these meetings. However, they were being organised
and instigated against us without our even being aware of it. Rumours are
rife that the Adivasis were paid a lot of cash and were given alcohol too.
But we cannot verify this." A report in The Hindu states that
refugees from Panwad staying in the Chhotaudaipur camp named three non-Adivasi
Hindus who, they said, had directed the violence.
There was continuous violence in the
surrounding areas right from March 1. Individual houses had been burnt in
around 60 to 70 villages. Many people from these areas came to Panwad. On
March 8, the people were threatened that their village would be burnt on
March 10. According to the victim-survivors, the police was present when
the threats were made.
The trouble in Panwad began at 2.30 p.m.
on March 10. Around 5,000 to 7,000 people surrounded the village. They
used everything to intimidate the people — arrows, stones, dharias,
weapons, private firing, etc. In the melee, two Adivasis were killed in
police firing. Muslims from Panwad said, "We were stoning, too, but were
very soon outnumbered and realised we could no longer resist them. Fifty
to sixty SRP police standing there ordered us to go inside instead of
stopping the mob. This continued till 1 a.m. We were terrified. Most of
the women were asked to hide in one pucca house while most of the
children were in another 2-3 pucca houses. There were 400 to 500
men standing out all night with no hope, no weapons and no police
There was firing in the air, and tear
gas was used to disperse the people instead of the mob. They were also
severely beaten by the police. "The mob was not warned even once. In fact
at one point the police went up to them and came back, and the mob got
even more violent and active. It was clear what was happening. They were
Adivasis from nearby villages: Panibar, Bhindol, Jhaab, Sadli, Kawra,
According to the witnesses, "They told
us we would be lynched because two Adivasis had been killed. We appealed
to the SP. We told him that we wanted to shift to Chhotaudaipur and he
should help us shift. They asked us to wait till 8 a.m. and said that
nothing could be done before that. We could not hold out any longer and
1,000 to 1,500 of us left at around 5 a.m. with nothing on us but the
clothes we were wearing."
At 8 a.m., the Adivasis entered the
village, looted all the houses and burnt them systematically. Around 1,000
people were still in the camps in Chhotaudaipur (Nazar Bagh) in mid-May.
Most of the people left their daughters and other young women in the camp
there for safety. There were around 500 Panwad residents in Vadodara.
According to one victim, "People from our community are helping us with
whatever they can. One of them is Judge Sadiqbhai. But how long can they
"It is evident that they do not want us
in Panwad or even any trace of us. They looted all we had and saw to it
that we left empty-handed. Some of us barely managed daily wages. A small
contractor dealing with bricks has lost around Rs 1.5 lakh while another
contractor has lost property worth Rs 8 lakh." Otherwise, most of the
Muslim residents in Panwad had a meagre income. Women used to carry loads
for Rs 40-50 per day.
The people are further disappointed in
their Congress leaders who they feel were of no help. The local MLA is
Sukhrambhai Rathwa, while the MP of the area is Ramsingh Rathwa. Most of
the people had all their cash in their houses and have lost all their
belongings. They continue to maintain that they faced no problems from the
local Hindus in the village. They say that it was the Adivasis instigated
by the VHP, Bajrang Dal and RSS who were responsible.
Rajesh Mishra of Arch Vahini filed an
FIR as an eyewitness to the violence that took place in his native
village, Kanwat, between March 10 and March 18, 2002. On March 12 and 13,
in Kanwat, more than 250 houses and shop/establishments of Muslims, were
looted and then set on fire by tribal mobs from the surrounding villages.
Most of the houses belonging to Muslims were totally destroyed and their
businesses ruined. There were 185 Muslim and 52 Bohra Muslim households
living and conducting their business in Kanwat. It was so far back that
even elders cannot recall when and from where the Muslims came and settled
in this interior village of Kanwat. (See FIR by
Activist, Detailed Annexures, Volume III).
All 185 Muslim households lost all of
their belongings. Their houses and business premises were looted, burnt
and destroyed. Out of 185 households, 38 had pucca RCC structures
and the rest were kuccha structures. They lost property worth
approximately Rs 3.50 crore, invested in their shops, garages, cabins,
handcarts and vehicles. They were homeless and had become paupers, taking
shelter in Vadodara and Chhotaudaipur with relatives and Muslim jamaat
The 52 Bohra Muslim community households
were well-to-do traders in Kanwat. Bohras had lived in Kanwat for over
generations and had developed business in varied spheres and on a large
scale. Going by even by a very conservative estimate, the Bohras lost
property worth Rs. 7 to 8 crore.
From March 1 onwards, Muslims in Kanwat
had been receiving threats and threatening calls from various sources,
which made them tense and anxious. They had repeatedly asked the local
administration, the mamlatdar and the police for protection. As the
tension mounted, they also demanded deployment of the Border Security
Force (BSF), Rapid Action Force (RAF) or State Reserve Police (SRP) in
adequate numbers. But no protection was forthcoming.
The fears were not unfounded, especially
when it became known that the sarpanch and other village leaders
had cancelled the traditional weekly market (haat) scheduled for
March 4 and March 11. Cancelling the haat was an extraordinary
decision because haats are almost never cancelled. This indicated
the gravity of the situation and the danger that loomed large over the
law-and-order situation. Later it became clear that the target was
obviously the Muslim community.
As reports of incidents in Panwad
reached Kanwat on March 10, panicky Muslims desperately urged the local
administration to provide them security. They knew it was their turn next,
for stories had been pouring in over the past ten days, that the mobs
would first target Panwad, and then Kanwat. The local BJP leader, who was
trying to keep peace in Kanwat, had also sensed impending trouble. He
repeatedly implored the district collector and the police authorities to
provide adequate police and BSF protection to Kanwat to avoid the great
tragedy that could overtake the village.
According to victim-survivors in Qureshi
Jamaatkhana Camp, Vadodara, a great deal of tension was created among
Muslims from February 24 by tribals from the surrounding area, who were
traumatising the Muslims by asserting that they should all be thrown out
of the village. There was increased tension in the area since March 1. The
local people, including the local MLA, repeatedly appealed to the
administration for deployment of SRP and BSF forces, but this was not
On March 10, after the withdrawal of SRP
and BSF forces, violence broke out in Panwad village, 12 km from Kanwat.
The local people in Kanwat had been warned that their village would be
attacked next. After repeated pleas made over several days, an army unit
finally arrived on the night of March 11. In the early morning of March
12, the army shifted the 185 Muslim families. That afternoon, Bohra Muslim
families, took shelter in the Kanwat police station. Later on in the
night, these families, too, were shifted out under police protection from
Kanwat to Dahod town. They left their houses and property exposed.
When the attacks started on March 12,
even simple measures like tear gas or firing in the air were not resorted
to by the police, to prevent the mob from looting and setting fire to
Muslim and Bohra property. On March 13, the looting and burning spree
started from early morning and went on till late afternoon. Suddenly at
about 3.15 p.m., the police imposed curfew and within minutes it drove
away the looting mobs.
According to Meherunissa Fakir Mohammed,
a resident of Kanwat staying in a camp in Tandalja, "A mob of around 4,000
Adivasis had come. Initially they pelted stones but later they started
shooting with arrows that burnt because they had tips wrapped in cloth and
soaked in kerosene. We then went and asked the police for protection to
take us to a safe place. They gave us a vehicle (M 7-8) that had about 5-6
policemen. We ourselves arranged 5-6 jeeps and followed the police van.
When we reached Bodeli, there was curfew in the area. Some Hindus refused
to shelter us in Bodeli, citing the curfew as an excuse, but their
reluctance was probably more because they didn’t want to shelter Muslims
coming from outside. The DDO asked us to make our own arrangements and
leave the place in two hours. We finally landed up in the Tandalja Camp.
Here they give us meals in the daytime and in the evening. But, how long
this will continue? Now we don’t want to go back to the same place."
During the burning and looting, the
police did not take any action. According to Mishra of Arch Vahini, the
mob consisted largely of women and children who were not heavily armed,
and the incident could have been quickly brought under control, had the
police taken some action even by firing in the air or tear-gassing the
mob. But this was not done. The police imposed curfew only on the
afternoon of March 13, and the mob dispersed.
As one victim-survivor, Jaitunbibi,
said, "In my whole life, we have never had trouble or conflict with the
Adivasis. This is not their work, some people from outside have provoked
them and local Adivasis have looted and burnt shops using petrol bombs.
Because of this incident, the children are frightened, their education has
been affected and their future is uncertain."
According to Mehrunissa Mohammed, some
Hindus in the area had paid around Rs.1,000 to 1,200 to the Adivasis to
get their houses burnt. Muslims targeted in the attacks generally seemed
to feel that the Adivasis could not have participated in the loot and
arson without instigation and direction by non-Adivasis. An Adivasi
schoolteacher in Joj, quoted in the Hindu report, expressed a
similar opinion, stating that Adivasis had been used. The schoolteacher
said that Adivasis who had taken part in the violence told him that they
were given liquor and money and forced to participate in the arson, and
that many of the Adivasi women had wept while watching the
destruction. Victims of the violence too believed that Adivasis had been
threatened and coerced into participation by VHP activists, with active
An important respect in which the
attacks by the Adivasis differed from much of the general pattern of
violence was that they were restricted to destruction and looting of
property. While the Muslim victims were driven from their homes, there
were no killings, and women were not sexually assaulted or abused by the
At Pipalda village near Kanwat,
some properties of Muslims were destroyed. There are clear indications
that the attacks had been planned well before the incidents. The attackers
had noted and knew exactly the location of Muslim houses and shops — how
many and in which lanes — and the attacks on these places were well timed.
In all places, petrol bombs and gas cylinders were used. Threats had been
issued to non-Muslim residents not to support the Muslims, and in some
places, local people supported the attackers. There seems to have been
pressure from above on the police and fire brigade to not help. Some
witnesses complained that the police and fire brigade arrived late on the
scene. In many cases, the police were in the front helping the rioters in
The violence that took place in the
Chhotaudaipur belt, where Adivasis looted and burnt the houses and
establishments of Muslims was unprecedented in the history of the area.
Mishra, an activist for twenty years, born, brought up and working in the
Kanwat region, asserts positively that Muslims and Adivasis have
co-existed in harmony till recent times. It is widely being claimed that
the Adivasis attacked Muslims as a reaction to exploitation by Muslim
moneylenders. However, it should be noted that the logic of Adivasis being
mobilised against the exploitation of Muslim moneylenders does not hold in
this area. In Kanwat, Banias are involved in money lending, but Adivasis
did not attack them. This indicates that Hindu communal organisations
explicitly mobilised Adivasis against Muslims.