Outwardly it may appear that this book attempts to highlight the attacks on the Hindus and to pinpoint the lies of the political opponents thriving of Muslim votebank, of the English media, and of the so-called social activists and human rights organizations. To read it so grossly, to assess it so superficially is to commit another serious mistake. This is not to suggest that the Hindus alone suffered in the Gujarat riots. The Muslims also suffered in retaliatory violence in the first three days- i.e. on the 28th February, 1st March and 2nd
March 2002. Despite this, in many cases, they were also on the offensive at some places even in these three days. But let us here deal with the attacks on Muslims in Gujarat riots.
The cause of the retaliatory riots has already been discussed at length in the first chapter. But there were also many more causes. The weekly India Today in its issue of 18th March 2002 discusses many of these causes. This is what India Today correspondent V. Shankar Aiyar reported from Ahmedabad:
“The immediate provocation for the riots may have been the Godhra inferno, but the savagery of retaliation belies a resentment spanning years. The Hindu-Muslim gulf has been widening since the 1969 Ahmedabad riots, the 1989 rath yatra on the Ayodhya Ram mandir issue and has been fuelled by the Kashmir conflict. The heightening Indo-Pakistan tension and Islamic terrorism in the past two years—from cross-border terrorist attacks in Kashmir to the December 13 Parliament attack—have given Hindu militancy both momentum and respectability. In fact, Gujarat is perhaps the only state where the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) resembles a mass movement.
The past few months have seen mounting public opinion on the lack of action against Pakistan—over Kargil and more recently the Parliament attack. In fact, during his attempts last week to pacify Gujarat, Union Defence Minister George Fernandes was not only pummelled by stones, but also queries like, “Why isn’t India attacking Pakistan?”
Indifference to or perhaps ignorance of global compulsions has fuelled hostility and the state’s Muslim population is being held responsible for Pakistan‘s jehadi policies.
Another aggravation has been the mushrooming of Deobandi madarsas in the border state over the past two years. The lackadaisical attitude of the Keshubhai Patel and Narendra Modi governments in curbing their growth has widened the gulf between the communities. In fact, police officials attribute the ferocity of attack at the Gulmarg Society and former MP Ehsaan Jafri’s house to the presence of one such madarsa in the complex”.
In the first three days in Gujarat, really, the Muslims were at the receiving end. There was unimaginable anger in the people’s minds after the mind-numbing Godhra carnage. As the same India Today correspondent put it in the same issue:
“Last week, what marked the slaughter of people was the unprecedented intensity as well as societal sanction. The underclass was supported in the looting by the middle and upper middle classes, including women. They not only indulged in pillaging but openly celebrated the destruction and mounting death toll. Residents from posh localities in Ahmedabad didn’t balk at taking to the streets at the slightest hint of an approaching mob. By the chief minister’s own admission, the pattern of rioting didn’t correspond at all to Gujarat‘s 100 most sensitive localities. New areas joined the sectarian frenzy.”
This clearly shows that, in the first three days, the masses were enraged with Godhra. No Sangh Parivar organization could be blamed for the riots. If any was involved, it was purely incidental. And incidentally, 5 Congress corporators and 1 MLA were also accused of attacking Muslims in the post-Godhra riots as per a report in The Times of India dated 9th August 2003.
Attacks on Muslims
Attacks by large mobs began in the districts of Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Saberkantha and, for the first time in its history, Gandhinagar on February 28. Violence spread to the largely rural districts of Panchmahals, Mehsana, Kheda, Junagadh, Banaskantha, Patan, Anand and Narmada the next day. Over the next two days, Bharuch and Rajkot and later Surat were hit.
To understand exactly the attacks on Muslims, it is necessary to read the English as well as the Gujarati newspapers of that time. The weekly India Today’s report on that in its issue dated 18th
March 2002 is also useful. A report from that issue reads thus:
“… Aware that people would shy away from blatant aggression in their own areas, outsiders were recruited to attack pre-targeted localities. In most cases, the locals didn’t protest and actually egged on the rioters, so intense was the hatred of the “other”.
There was also a deliberate attempt to mar the economic interests of the Muslim community. Not only were shops and establishments with obvious Muslim names attacked, but in a chilling revelation of the meticulous planning, so were those with names like Aashirwaad or Saffron that were jointly owned by Hindus and Muslims. Armed with information on share-holding and partnerships, they swooped down on establishments that variously included a medical shop near EllisBridge, the Honda franchisee on Gandhi Nagar road and the truck operator who carted Opel cars at Halol. The approximate loss suffered by business in six days of violence: Rs 500 crore a day.”
The same report also says:
“In a week of a vengeful spree following the February 27 Godhra carnage, more than 600 people have died across the state and 20,000 rendered homeless in Ahmedabad alone. Mosques and dargahs have been burnt or damaged, and several have been converted into Hulladiya Hanuman temples or Godhadiya temples in honour of the Godhra victims. Fluttering saffron flags signal a perverse victory. Despite a past pockmarked by communal riots, Gujarat has all but lost its moorings as a tolerant society.”
What this issue of India Today reported was completely one-sided, ignoring all attacks on Hindus that took place in Gujarat in the first three days. But this reporting is enough to understand the attacks on Muslims, which we are dealing with now.
The following was the report of The Hindu dated 1st March 2002,
on the events of February 28:
“AHMEDABAD, FEB. 28. At least 140 people were killed, 60 of them burnt alive in two housing colonies here today, as mob frenzy reached its crescendo during the “Gujarat bandh” called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and supported by the ruling BJP in protest against Wednesday’s torching of the Sabarmati Express.
At least 30 others were killed in police firing, stabbing and other incidents in different parts of the city while the casualty in other cities and towns in the State was put at over 50.
Shops and business establishments belonging to Muslims were targeted by mobs. About 40 were feared killed when 15 houses in “Gulmarg” Society in Meghaninagar locality here were set afire. At least 20 people were feared trapped in a building set ablaze in Naroda industrial area.
Among the deceased in the Gulmarg Society carnage was the former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, and his entire family. The Home Secretary, K. Nityanandam, confirmed the torching of the Gulmarg Society, but said he was not sure if Mr. Jafri was among the victims.
Police have recovered some 20 bodies from the Society and at least 15 more are believed to be inside the burning houses. At Naroda, efforts are being made to put off the fire before the recovery of bodies could start.
The authorities said the toll in the day’s orgy of violence in Ahmedabad alone could be at least 90. The number of cases of looting and arson, particularly of the minority shops and business establishments, was officially put at 118 in Ahmedabad but the authorities admitted that they had lost count.
The authorities, for obvious reasons, refused to confirm the burning of a mosque in Surat city, the attack on the Islamic Study Centre in Baroda and the torching of the Waqf Board office in the old secretariat building in Gandhinagar. But eyewitness accounts confirmed the incidents.
The Army units, frantically called by the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as the situation seemed to slip out of hand, started arriving in Ahmedabad and are likely to be deployed in the city on Friday.
At least five people were killed in Viramgam and four in Baroda where the house of a leading Muslim social activist was attacked. Six were killed in Derol town near Godhra. Till evening, police fired 46 rounds in Ahmedabad, in which at least 10 persons were believed to have been killed. The toll in the torching of the Sabarmati Express, meanwhile, had risen to 58 with the recovery of the body of a child late last night.
An indefinite curfew has been clamped in 26 cities and towns in the State, including parts of Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Rajkot, Nadiad, Anand and Kaira in addition to the indefinite curfew in force in Godhra since Wednesday. The skyline of Ahmedabad and Baroda was filled with black smoke emanating from the burnt shops and cabins, discarded tyres to create road blockades as well as dozens of State road transport and city municipal service buses set afire by the miscreants.
For the first time in many years, the response to the bandh call was almost total in all cities with not even a single shop or roadside cabin, petrol pump or commercial establishment open. Hooligans forced the closure of most of the State and Central Government offices in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar and other cities. All schools and colleges, cinemas and other establishments remained closed. Even the cable television operators, “under instructions” from the VHP, were forced to suspend telecast of all entertainment and sports channels, allowing only the news channels to function during the day.
The hooligans indulging in looting and arson had a field day with police either conspicuous by their absence or, outnumbered by the attackers, looking the other way. Journalists and cameramen were also attacked at many places and their equipment damaged.
It was also perhaps for the first time that the capital city of Gandhinagar witnessed violence with groups of people attacking even the old secretariat building housing the offices of many of the State Government-owned boards.
Several minority places of worship were made the specific target of the attacks. In Ahmedabad, a mausoleum in the middle of a road in Shahibagh locality, barely a few metres from the office of the city police commissioner was razed to the ground by the hooligans with the police vehicles passing by but refusing to intervene.
Mr. Modi, who described the train attack as a “terrorist-type” action, said the Government had ordered a judicial inquiry by a retired judge of the Gujarat High Court. Mr. Modi said 80 people, including two local councillors of Godhra who were believed to be involved in the train attack and the owners of the two petrol pumps suspected to have supplied fuel to the attackers, had been arrested. Both the pumps have been sealed, he said and added that the Government would not hesitate to invoke POTO or the Prevention of Anti- Social Activities Act (PASA) against the Godhra attackers.”
Though this report is from a biased newspaper like The Hindu and this report is also biased, its reports on attacks on Muslims were mainly true. However, this report admitted that the Chief Minister Narendra Modi made frantic calls to get in the Army in Ahmedabad and that some units had started arriving in Ahmedabad as early as 28th
February’s night itself. This report also admits that police shot dead at least 10 rioters on February 28 itself. The only place where The Hindu accuses the police of inaction was “In Ahmedabad, a mausoleum in the middle of a road in Shahibagh locality, barely a few metres from the office of the city police commissioner was razed to the ground by the hooligans with the police vehicles passing by but refusing to intervene”. Now note that it was far more important to save human lives than a mausoleum. The police were already overwhelmingly outnumbered (despite the entire force being deployed) and it was necessary to save lives than mausoleums. So the vehicles refused to intervene in mausoleum demolishing as they must have been going to an urgent call to save human lives, rather than tombs and mausoleums.
Now let us read the report of this very newspaper dated 2nd March
2002, covering events till March 1:
“Shoot orders in many Gujarat towns, toll over 200
By Manas Dasgupta
A Hindu mob waves swords at an opposing Muslim mob during street battles in Ahmedabad on Friday. FACE OF FEAR: A Muslim seeks mercy from rioters. – Reuters
AHMEDABAD, MARCH 1. The Army began flag marches in the worst-affected areas of Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Godhra cities and the `shoot at sight’ order was extended to all 34 curfew-bound cities and towns in Gujarat as the orgy of violence in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage continued unabated for the second day today.
The toll in the violence has been officially put at 136, including 119 deaths being reported from Ahmedabad city alone of which at least 17 people were killed in police firing. But unconfirmed reports put the toll at over 200 with more bodies still being extricated from the minority housing colonies set ablaze in Meghaninagar and Naroda localities on Thursday.
Five persons were killed in police firing during fresh incidents of violence in the labour-dominated Bapunagar locality where at least five persons were burnt alive in a car in one of the gruesome incidents during the day. Eight persons were burnt alive in their car on the outskirts of Juhapura locality. A policeman was stabbed to death and his body set afire by a mob in Naroda locality. (Who must have done this? Hindus or Muslims?)
The official sources admitted that the casualty in the Meghaninagar and Naroda burning incidents was much higher than originally estimated and so far over 105 bodies had been recovered from Gulmarg society in Meghaninagar and Naroda which alone accounted for at least 65 deaths. But hospital sources said at least 163 burnt bodies had been recovered from the two places in one of the worst-ever mass murder incidents in the history of the State since the 1969 riots.
The entire pandal of the Gujarat-Expo exhibition, where various State Governments and co-operative organisations had their stalls on the GujaratUniversity ground, was on fire. It, however, was not immediately clear whether the fire was accidental or was caused by some miscreants who looted the stalls.
The Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, however, claimed that the situation was “improving” and the intensity of violence was “much less than what it was yesterday”. He was confident that the situation would be brought under control soon.
He claimed that despite the prevailing tension in the walled city and labour-dominated areas of Ahmedabad, the flag march had a “salutary effect”. He said one Army brigade, airlifted from the border areas and which arrived early this morning, began flag march later in the day while another brigade was expected to arrive in the night. He said if the situation demanded, the Army would be deployed in the affected areas to help the civil authorities restore normalcy.
Though Gujarat was “exempted” from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s national bandh call for today, life remained paralysed in most parts of the State for the second day today because of the prevailing tension or due to the imposition of indefinite curfew. Even outside the curfew-bound areas in Ahmedabad, none of the shops, cabins and other business establishments were opened today. Banks, schools and colleges, cinema theatres and most other institutions remained closed while only a few private offices functioned with minimum staff.
Despite the imposition of indefinite curfew, sporadic incidents of violence, group clashes and stoning continued through out the night and during the day today in the walled city and labour-dominated eastern parts of Ahmedabad. But unlike Thursday when one community was entirely at the receiving end, the minority backlash caused further worsening of the situation.
Police presence had little impact on the two communities pelting stones at each other in Bapunagar, Gomtipur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Naroda and other areas from where incidents of firing had been reported. But there were no reports of casualty. Pitched battle was continuing between the two communities late in the evening.
The official sources said timely arrival of the police foiled a retaliatory attempt to break into a prominent temple in Jamalpur locality in the walled city. But at least 15 places of worship of the minority community in Ahmedabad and some other parts of the State were vandalised and were converted overnight into `temples’ during the last two days.
30 burnt alive
A Baroda report said 30 persons were burnt alive today at Pandarwal village in Panchmahal district of Gujarat, official sources said here. Curfew has been imposed in the area and rapid action force personnel have been deployed.”
This report does point the true picture of the riots on the second day. What does this say? Unlike the first day, i.e. February 28, the Muslims had already started retaliatory riots as early as 1st March
2002. What this newspaper forgets, just like most others of its type, is its own reports during the actual time of the riots. Why did A.G.Noorani in Frontline weekly, (publication of The Hindu) and The Hindu itself in its various editorials ever after, call the riots a ‘pogrom’, a ‘genocide’ and a ‘massacre’ when its own reporter reported that Muslims too were on the offensive, as early as 1st March 2002?
Now let us see the report of this same newspaper dated 3rd March 2002, covering events till 2nd March 2002:
“AHMEDABAD, MARCH 2. As many as 86 people were killed in fresh incidents of violence in different parts of Gujarat today with disturbances spreading to newer and remote rural areas, even as the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, claimed that the situation was “fast returning to normalcy” in the State.
In yet another incident, 27 persons were burnt alive at Sadarpar village in Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district, while seven persons met a similar fate in a bakery near Dabhoi town in Baroda district. Four persons were also burnt alive at Por village and one was stabbed to death in Kalol town in Gandhinagar district. At least 47 persons have been killed in police firings in different cities and towns since last night, including 19 in Ahmedabad city alone where the police had to open fire repeatedly to disperse violent mobs engaged in pitched battle. Eight people were killed in police firing in Godhra town.
For the first time, disturbances have spread to the capital district of Gandhinagar and Surat and Bhavnagar cities where indefinite curfew was clamped after 22 people were killed in stabbing and police firing. Curfew, however, was partially lifted from 14 cities and towns, including Ahmedabad, to give a semblance of normalcy, but at least 40 cities and towns in the State were under indefinite curfew.
The death toll, according to Mr. Modi had reached 289, including 160 in Ahmedabad, but unconfirmed reports put the toll at above 350. Mr. Modi denied that 30 persons were burnt alive in Pandarvada village near Godhra yesterday and claimed that nine persons belonging to both the communities were killed in clashes in the village.
Mr. Modi said the incident in Sadarpar was sparked by rumours that the minorities had collected in a building and were preparing to attack and in retaliation, the majority community set fire to the building.
In Surat, two mosques, at least 15 houses of the minorities and a timber market were set ablaze in Pakhinawad. Five people were killed in stabbing in Gopipura and some other parts of the city following which an indefinite curfew was clamped in five police station areas. In Bhavnagar, one person was killed in police firing and four were stabbed to death forcing the police to impose indefinite curfew.
Mr. Modi said Border Security Force units had been dispatched to Surat to assist the civil authorities to maintain law and order and the Government would consider sending the army to the diamond city after the promised second brigade reached Ahmedabad.
The situation, however, has improved in Ahmedabad today where no major incidents of arson were reported since last night though members of the two communities were engaged in pitched battles pelting stones and acid bulbs necessitating the police to open fire at several places. In the only case of the patrolling army units opening fire to disperse violent mobs, two persons were injured in the industrial belt of Odhav.
In the interiors of the western suburbs of the city, some shops and other business establishments reopened today after two days.
Even while claiming that the situation was improving, Mr. Modi said the police fired at least 1,031 rounds in different parts of the State since last night besides bursting 1,614 teargas shells to disperse violent mobs. While 19 people were killed in police firing in Ahmedabad and eight in Godhra, six people were killed in police firing in Baroda, five in Anand, three each in Mehsana and Gandhinagar, two in Kaira and one in Bhavnagar.
The toll in stabbing and arson was officially put at 242 in which Ahmedabad alone accounted for 131 killings and Mehsana, the home district of the Chief Minister, 40. Even the tribal-dominated districts of Sabarkantha and Dahod accounted for 15 and 10 deaths respectively. Strongly denying that the police had failed to act in time, Mr. Modi claimed that “90 per cent areas” in the State remained incident-free because of the pro-active role played by the police. The presence of the army had created a “salutary effect” in bringing the situation under control in Ahmedabad, Baroda and Godhra.
Mr. Modi convened a meeting of the leaders of political parties here this evening to discuss the riot situation but it was boycotted by the Congress.”
What have we here? We have read the report of The Hindu, the most anti-Hindu, anti-BJP, anti-RSS newspaper of all hues in recent times. It’s reporting was biased and one-sided not only after the Gujarat riots, but also during the times of the riots. One only needs to see its editorials of those days and also of now to see its malicious, stark lies. And such a report itself blasts the myth that the police was inactive or that Muslims were silent sufferers.
Here, however, I must add one more thing. When I began studying the truth of the Gujarat riots, through primary sources, I found that even I was ignorant of many facts. As I studied these things, I found some more horrifying facts, such as the fact the Muslims attacked Hindus in Bapunagar area as early as February 28. To expect anything to change from this book’s publication will be sheer fantasy. But how would the newspaper editors, especially those of The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The Times of Indiaand The Hindu react when confronted with reports from their own dailies during the times of the Gujarat riots? And despite this, there was a contrast of day and night in the versions of the riots as projected by the ‘national’ English media and the local Gujarati media!
Reading the reports of The Hindu dated these 4 days, i.e. 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th March 2002, it is absolutely clear that the police records
and the government reports that 98 people were shot dead by the police in the first three days and that the riots stopped in the first three days itself was absolutely true.
But since the name of this chapter is “Attacks on Muslims”, let us see some other sources’ reporting on attacks on Muslims. This is what the weekly India Today reported in its issue dated 25th March
“As smoke starts to lift and flames flicker away from the carcass that was once a community, a structure begins to take shape. That’s all there’s left of it, a misshapen frame. A splintered psyche jutting ominously, a fractured faith protruding starkly. As for the heaving, throbbing spirit, it has been hacked and burnt, pillaged and plundered, left for dead. Which is perhaps why breathing life into the state’s Muslim community seems less of an option, more of an impossibility for now.
It is a minority haunted by visions of burning houses and bodies that followed the killing of 57 kar sevaks at Godhra on February 27. It is a community oppressed by figures. Of a death toll numbering 750 according to official records, but probably double that. Of the nearly 1.25 lakh displaced from 2,600 villages and towns in central and north Gujarat, with nearly 50,000 lodged in makeshift camps in Ahmedabad and another 50,000 reportedly staying with their relatives. Of the Rs 3,000 crore suffered in losses as estimated by the community’s leaders.
This last is the most forbidding. For besides their homes, many thousands have lost their livelihood. The paanshops and bakeries, the barber shops and cycle-repair shops, the hotels and factories have all been razed by mobs, at times 10,000-strong. The insurance claims from the community amount to Rs 400 crore so far. An estimated Rs 50 crore has been lost by the destruction of 75 per cent of the state’s bakeries, Rs 200 crore by the demolition of 60 textile and chemical units and powerlooms in Surat and Ahmedabad. Almost 18,000 two- and three-wheelers and 800 trucks have been destroyed. Says Firoze Khan, owner of the Telco service station that was torched along with 22 trucks by a mob of 7,000 at Jetalpur near Ahmedabad: “God alone knows how we will bear this economic blow.” Though the building and trucks were insured, the spare parts worth lakhs of rupees stocked by the service station were not.
Along the Navsari-Mehsana stretch on the 700-km Mumbai-Mehsana highway and other state highways, most of the restaurants were owned by Muslims; nearly 700 have been burnt. Mohammed Iqbal Kuskiwala, 45, owner of a biscuit factory at Modasa, a small town in north Gujarat, lost Rs 50 lakh. His factory was ransacked by a crowd before being blown up by dynamite. “I have decided to shift to Malawi in Africa. The African nations are notorious for their security, but is there any safety in this country any more?” asks Kuskiwala
Equally grave is the altering demographic profile of the state. Makeshift camps for displaced Muslims dot the state’s towns-Dohad, Lunawada, Godhra and Chotta-Udepur in central Gujarat, Modasa and Khedbrahma in north Gujarat, and in other places. None of them want to go back to the villages for fear of murderous attacks. “How can we go back? They will kill us if we return,” says 27-year-old Rahimmiya Subhanmiya Sindhi, a farmer and cattle trader who lost his father, wife and three children in the savage attack by a mob of 3,000 at Kidiyad in north Gujarat…
…For compounding the Muslims’ problems is the campaign calling for an economic boycott of the community. As part of the crusade, a large number of leaflets are being circulated in the state. Without any mention of the publisher’s name, they urge the Hindus to save their religion and country by severing economic dealings with the Muslims “in order to teach them a lesson”. They warn against employing Muslims, buying from them or selling to them. Though the Gujarat VHP leaders deny having published the leaflet, they add that the prevailing atmosphere is a natural corollary. More worrisome is the support that the campaign is gaining among the Hindus this time in sharp contrast to the past when calls for a similar boycott were ignored by the majority community. “The Muslims find themselves at a dead end,” says J.V. Momin, a senior Congress leader.
Says Mohammed Ali, a member of the Shia Chelia community that was seldom attacked in previous Hindu-Muslim riots: “There is a complete crisis of confidence in the Muslim community.” Ali is one of the fortunate few whose restaurant in Ahmedabad escaped destruction.
A large number of restaurants and hotels that were torched in the riots belonged to Shia Chelias who have traditionally maintained a low profile on controversial issues choosing instead to concentrate on their thriving commercial interests. Much like the Dawoodi Bohras who too suffered an immense loss of life and property this time.
Speculation is rife on the reason for the attacks on this section of the community. A moderate Muslim leader from the Congress says that activities of the fundamentalist groups, both at the national and state level, are partially responsible for the intense and widespread reaction…”
This issue was dated 25th March 2002, covering incidences till 14th March 2002. Butthe reporter, Uday Mahurkar, does not give us
the slightest clue as to when all these attacks took place, unlike all his other reports in India Today on this issue. There is a strong possibility that he was merely giving details of the anti-Muslim riots that occurred on February 28, 1st and 2nd March 2002.
Now, let us see Uday Mahurkar’s report in the weekly dated 22nd
“…Take Sanjeli. In the carnage that ensued after the February 27 Godhra killings, 8,000 armed tribals descended on the town of 8,000 in the tribal heartland of Dahod district. Bows, stones and gunshots rained on the fleeing Muslims, killing 15. Police intervention meant another 2,500 were spared a savage death. Today, all the 450 Muslim houses in Sanjeli are destroyed, the town sanitised of Muslims, almost all of whom were followers of the radical missionary group Tableeghi Jamaat. The village mosque run by the Jamaat is wrecked; at the nearby madarsa torn and burnt books are strewn all over the floor.
In an identical display of insanity, around 7,000 armed tribals marched into Bodeli town in Chotte-Udepur tribal area of Vadodara district intent on massacring the Muslims who had taken shelter there after being driven out of the neighbouring villages. While hundreds were saved by the police, Vadodara District Collector Bhagyesh Jha and other senior officers were fired upon by tribals as they tried to rescue the trapped Muslims.
Tragedy was also averted by the police and army at Viramgam town near Ahmedabad where over 15,000 Hindus, mostly armed OBC Thakores, burnt 250 Muslim houses. The attack has caused large-scale Muslim migration.
It is an occurrence new to the country. Hundreds of villages in rural areas of central and north Gujarat, particularly in the tribal belt, have been wiped clean of Muslims by the tribals and OBC Hindus. “Riots have largely been an urban phenomenon in India,” says political analyst Vidyut Thakar. “What is intriguing is that for the first time mobs have attacked Muslims in rural areas, particularly in the tribal belt.”
Of the more than 800 people killed in rioting (140 in police firing), nearly 150 people have died in tribal-related violence in the state, over 90 per cent of them Muslims. Combined with the violence unleashed by OBC Thakores in rural areas, the toll is 400. Brutalised Muslims now stationed at camps in Dahod and Jhalod are also bewildered at the unexpected magnitude of reaction in small towns.”
Muslims did suffer at the hands of tribals in Gujarat, but that was because of their economic exploitation of the tribals. There is no doubt that Muslims suffered more than the Hindus in Gujarat, in the riots of 2002 AD. There were unprovoked (Not unprovoked, Godhra was the cause. But unprovoked by Muslim attacks on houses) as well retaliatory attacks on Muslims. In this report, Uday Mahurkar admits that out of the 800-odd deaths in the Gujarat riots then, as many as 140 were in police firing. This clearly proves that outof the 1,000-odd deaths, 200 were in police firing, a record of sorts to see 20 % people being killed in police firing.
Two major anti-Muslim riots
As one makes a thorough analysis of the Gujarat riots, one finds out that there were only two instances of anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, after Godhra. Both were in Ahmedabad. One was the killing of former Congress Lok Sabha MP from Ahmedabad, Ehsan Jafri, and the other was the attack on Muslims in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area.
Ehsan Jafri case
This was one of the most publicized cases in the Gujarat riots. Now- the official number has been given- revised after the expiry of the 7 year-period- and all missing people have been declared dead- and the number is 68 people killed.
It has been conclusively proved that not a single killing took place in Ahmedabad on February 28 until Ehsan Jafri fired on the Hindu crowd injuring 14 and killing 1- according to weekly India Today dated 5 April 2010- and allegedly 3 Hindus were killed according to a witness. Outlook dated 11 March 2002 and Times of India online on 28 Feb 2002 also reported by Jafri fired on the crowd. However, after this act of Jafri, the situation rapidly deteriorated and Jafri was done to death along with many others. However, a close analysis of this case will reveal that no rapes of women took place in this case at all. Reports of the then English newspapers like The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Times of India did not make the slightest mention of anyone being raped. But later, the biased media concocted imaginary tales of women being raped and killed and the biased writers like Arundhati Roy had the time of their lives in concocting imaginary detailed stories and lies.
One only needs to read English newspapers like The Indian Express who reported this incidence in the first week of March 2002 to understand the real situation. Here is what India Today reports (18 March 2002):
“I never saw such a huge mob—they burnt alive my husband”
Zakia Nasin, wife of a former MP, Ahmedabad
Ehsaan Jafri, a former MP living in Ahmedabad’s Gulmarg Society,began calling the police at 8.30 a.m. His wife Zakia Nasin was worried—they lived in a Hindu area—but Jafri had faith in his neighbours who had called to warn him of mobs. By noon, a hostile crowd was pelting stones and Jafri’s pleas went unheeded. The ex-MP began calling politician friends, but it was of no use. The mob swelled to about 5,000 and began throwing burning tyres. Jafri sent his family upstairs while he stood at the gate. “That was the last time we saw Jafrisaab,” says Zakia, who denies he used his gun. The police arrived at 5 p.m. after the mob had razed the complex. His neighbours showed that they deserved his faith—the mob was not local—and dozens of residents lost their lives with him.”
However- there is a factual error here. This same weekly says in this same issue- that “Reinforcements did arrive- but by that time the mob had swelled to 10,000” and that “Police shot dead 5 people outside his house”. Then how can they say that police arrived at 5 PM? Police saved 200 Muslims in this episode.
Uday Mahurkar also writes on the same subject in the same issue:
“…In Chamanpura area where nearly 40 persons, including former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri and his family members were killed, there were just a few armed guards when the crowd began assembling. Reinforcements did arrive but by that time the mob had swelled to 10,000 and even though police firing killed at least five persons on the spot-in all police firing led to 40 deaths in Ahmedabad alone-it didn’t stop the carnage. The situation was aggravated further by Jafri firing from his revolver on the mob injuring seven. Others in the housing complex are said to have thrown acid bulbs too…”
This was in sharp contrast to his own report in the weekly’s previous issue dated 11 March 2002 when he wrote:
“Former Lok Sabha MP Ehsan Jafri was killed along with his four-member family”. However, it may have been premature on the part of Mahurkar to call it a 4-member family, since he reported this on February 28, the very day this act had taken place.
This was in Gulmurga locality of Ahmedabad. Large-scale killings had also taken place in Ahmedabad’s Naroda-Patiya area. But again, Uday Mahurkar admits that out of the around 40 deaths in Gulburga, at least 5 were Hindus shot dead by the police. He also admits that police firing killed as many 40 people in Ahmedabad alone. And this same weekly ignores these very reports these days and calls the Gujarat riots as a ‘pogrom’ or a ‘massacre’ of Muslims.
The weekly India Today also reports on the killings at Naroda Patiya:
“…In a siege of untempered hatred, 5,000 mindless marauders bore down on 200 families, undeserving victims of their faith…That evening, the police in Naroda Patia counted 27 charred bodies, among the 73 trapped to their deaths in a 60 sq ft alley…”
These two were the major incidences of anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. The India Today report quoted earlier was also in its issue dated 18 March 2002.
Let us read the report in The Hindu dated 20 August 2004:
“By Manas Dasgupta
AHMEDABAD, AUG. 19. The former police inspector of Naroda, K.K. Mysorewala, today admitted that the names of some senior Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders and a BJP member of the Gujarat Assembly figured in the police first information report in connection with the communal riots in 2002, but did not know how these names “disappeared” at a later stage.
Appearing before the G.T. Nanavati and K.G. Shah Judicial Inquiry Commission probing into the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra communal riots, Mr. Mysorewala said the names of the VHP State general secretary, Jaideep Patel, and MLA, Mayaben Kodnani, who was also the BJP city unit president, were mentioned as accused by the victims.
He, however, said that their names figured in connection with the rioting cases in Naroda Gam, about a kilometre away from Naroda-Patiya where more than 80 people were burnt alive by a mob. Their names were mentioned by the victims in their complaints and in the FIR but said he did not know how their names were later deleted.
He had also seen a senior Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi, in Naroda-Patiya locality in the afternoon talking to the people but did not know what role he played.
Mr. Mysorewala blamed the attack in Naroda-Patiya on the “brutal killing” of a Hindu youth, Ranjit Vanjhara, behind a mosque and the reckless driving of a Muslim truck driver in which a Hindu was killed and two others were injured.(This was also reported by The Telegraph dated 2 March 2002)
Rumours were spread in connection with the two incidents that added fuel to the communal fire. Hindus attacked a mosque and later the Muslim houses in the locality.
Inadequate police force
According to Mr. Mysorewala, the Naroda police station with 80 policemen was adequate in normal times but the situation on February 28 was unprecedented and was quickly going out of control.
He said he had asked for police reinforcement and was given 24 additional SRP men but even that was inadequate considering the size of the attacking mob, about 17,000 people.”
This report also shows that it may well have been ‘provocation’, something even in addition to Godhra, responsible for the Naroda-Patiya killings. But no provocation can justify killings of innocent people.
Third case of anti-Muslim riots
In Pandarwada village in Panchmahal district 27 Muslims were burnt- after rumours that 3 Hindus had been attacked. The Hindu’s report was-
“A Baroda report said 30 persons were burnt alive today at Pandarwada village in Panchmahal district of Gujarat, official sources said here. Curfew has been imposed in the area and rapid action force personnel have been deployed.”
Thus in brief- the suffering of the Muslims can be seen as-
1-A total of 790 Muslims were killed in the riots after Godhra and a total of 223 people are missing. Assuming that a larger portion of the missing are Muslim around 950 Muslims can be assumed to have been killed in the riots in addition to around 300 odd-Hindus after Godhra. But after the 7 year period expired and all the missing were declared dead in February 2009 the official figure given was 1180 with 228 missing people assumed dead up from 952 earlier. This was reported by all English newspapers on 1st
March 2009. This could mean that the earlier figure of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus given by the UPA government was also inflated and the correct figure could be 698 Muslims and 254 Hindus-adding to 952 plus 228 missing people.
But let us believe for the time being the figures of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus given by Sriprakash Jaiswal in Parliament on 11 May 2005.
2-In Naroda Patiya- after the revised figures-of February 2009 a total of 95 people (most if not all-Muslim) were declared dead instead of the earlier figure of 83. In Naroda Gram 11 people were killed, all Muslim, earlier figure was 8.
3-In Gulbarg society case, Chamanpura, in which Ehsan Jafri was killed 68 others also lost their lives after all missing were declared dead.
4–In Pandarwada village 27 people were burnt alive as per the reports of The Hindu and The Indian Express.
5-In Ahmedabad, the dargah of the Sufi saint-poet Wali Gujarati in Shahibaug and the 16th century Gumte Masjid mosque in Isanpur were destroyed. The Muhafiz Khan Masjid at Gheekanta was ransacked. Police records list 298 dargahs, 205 mosques, 17 temples and three churches as damaged in the months of March and April. This was as per the report of The Times of India dated 28 April 2002 written by Sanjay Pandey.
6-Over 1 lakh Muslims were rendered homeless along with 40,000 Hindus.
7-An estimated loss of 4,000 crores was suffered by the Muslims and its insurance claims amounted only to 1,000 crores.
Thus after Godhra, Muslims suffered in Gujarat. But so also did Hindus. We have, by and large, seen the real major cases of rioting. The causes of the minority communities too should be raised. And hence, this book devoted a special chapter to the attacks on Muslims.