Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya
COMMENTS PRINT

Crime Against Humanity  
Volume I An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat 
List of Incidents and Evidence  
By Concerned Citizens Tribunal -Gujarat 2002

Incidents of Post-Godhra Violence: Ahmedabad

Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya

Indicted

About 15 kms from Ahmedabad city, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya have been home to around 1,000 daily wage earning Muslims. Many of the residents here are migrants from Karnataka and Maharashtra. The area lies on a stretch of the outer city, situated along a deserted highway road. The Gopinath and Gangotri housing societies situated nearby are home, the survivors allege, to many of the attackers. The government's ST warehouse is located across the wide road.

Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon have a long history of VHP provocation. Police sources revealed to expert witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal, that in 1999 a dargah was broken down and an idol installed in its place. At the time, the local police repaired the dargah and arrested 10-15 persons, including Dr. Jaideep Patel, Maya Kotdani and Amrish Pandey. Pressure was mounted on the police by the then home minister, Haren Pandya, but the police stood their ground and the law-breakers were forced to back down.

However, things were different this time round in Naroda. In fact, the attack by rioters on Naroda Patiya, and thereafter on Naroda gaon nearby--a settlement of about 1,000 Muslims--left the entire area completely destroyed and devastated. According to several dozen survivor witnesses, who until August 23, 2002 were living in many different relief camps across Ahmedabad city, the first attack on Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon began at 9 a.m. on the morning of February 28, the day the Gujarat bandh had been declared by the VHP and Bajrang Dal, supported by the government in power. That morning, a large mob of 5,000 to 10,000 people dressed in half-pants (khaki chaddies) and saffron vests (banians) with black bandannas tied around their heads, set upon the hapless minority residents of the area. They were armed with spears, swords, acid bombs and petrol bombs. They used gas cylinders for their work. The assaulters were mixing petrol with some solvent. According to the evidence gathered, diesel and petrol used was from the ST warehouse, too. They first attacked the Noorani Masjid in the area and began to burn it with the help of LPG cylinders, tyres, petrol and kerosene. In self-defence, Naroda residents resorted to stone throwing. The police then fired at the community under attack. Four persons were killed and two injured in the police firing. It was around 10-10.30 a.m. that the minaret of the Noorani Masjid was destroyed. During the first attack, the family of Shabir Ahmed Khushid Ahmed and Mehmood Ahmed Khushid Ahmed were burnt alive. The mobs were attacking Hussain Nagar and Jawaharlal Nagar in Naroda.

One of the elderly witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal testified that after the first attack on the Mosque, when the persons attacked were running towards safety into their homes, the assailants overtook them and burnt 2-3 people. One of the first to be so burnt was a physically handicapped youth. He was a Madrasi Muslim lad from Hajira, about 20-25 years old. They put him in a small paan-kiosk/shop [paan ka galla] put petrol on him and burnt him. The victim-survivors ran into their homes and remained there till around 3 p.m. By this time the attack had intensified and, instead of using a single bullet at the leaders of the assault at Naroda, the police was firing at the victims. It was between 5 and 6 p.m., when the mob was at the height of its frenzy, that many women and girls of Naroda Gaon and Patiya were first raped and then doused in kerosene and petrol and burnt.

Survivors of the attack recall that the local police sided totally with the riotous mob. Residents in the camps deposed that the Special Reserve Police (SRP) force present refused to provide them sanctuary and forced them towards the waiting riot- ers. Once resistance was broken with the help of the police, the rioters stormed inside the settlement, burning and looting at will.

Witness after witness testified to the brazen refusal of the police and even the SRP personnel to do their bounden duty and protect those under attack. (“Nahi, aaj to upar se order aaya ke aaj tumhari jaan bachane ki nahi hai.” (“No, today we have orders from above that you are not to be saved”) one witness testified that a policeman, KK Mysorewala, clearly told her.)

Commissioner of police, PC Pandey was aware of the attack on this lone Muslim settlement on the outskirts of Ahmedabad from the morning of Feb 28 itself, when over two dozen calls made to his mobile phone were desperate cries for help from residents in the area. But no help was forthcoming. His team and the local police station with PI, KK Mysorewala, have been directly indicted by the evidence re- corded by the Tribunal.

Witnesses alleged that the leaders of the riotous mobs were waving copies of the Sandesh newspaper, saying see what you Muslims have done to us Hindus at Godhra as they attacked the area. The men in the mob that attacked Naroda Gaon and Patiya were described by witnesses as wearing khaki shorts, caps and had saffron bands [kesri patta] tied around them. Many witnesses testified that when out of distress they screamed, “Allah! Allah!” they were taunted by the attackers, who said, “No, say Jai Sri Ram!”

Mohammed Hussain was one of the people who were shot dead by the police in this area. His wife testified before the Tribunal. He was on the other side of the road when the attack began in the morning with a six-month-old daughter in his arms. Across the road, his wife had their other two children with her. He was trying to cross over to where his family was when he was hit. The bullet hit him in the head; it blasted in from one side of his head out through the other. He fell down right there. Though his wife screamed to the police for help, there was none forthcoming. As she was trying to reach him, the police beat her up severely and then they hit the children. They were hitting them with the butts of their rifles, preventing the wife from reach- ing her injured husband. Some Muslim youth tried to pull the witness' husband out of the way. He was bleeding profusely so they tried to move him to the side. They had moved him just a little way when a Hindu mob came and poured kerosene on him, put cycle tyres on him and set fire to him there and then. The wife was witness to this. She was screaming for help, trying to get them to stop, but the police could do nothing. Then as the mob came towards them she had to run with her three children towards Gopinath society where her brother lived. When she met the Tribunal she was traumatised by the events of that day. The assailants had burnt her husband so badly, his face, everything was burnt. Their 4-year-old son was an eyewitness to everything that happened and the child was still ill in May 02, still distraught at having lost his father. He saw his father's body, he saw him bleeding. He was witness to his father's killing. The third child, a girl, is 2 ½ years old. The six-month-old, injured by a brutal rod is recovering. This woman also saw many young girls running naked in front of her eyes. According to her testimony, they caught hold of innocent children and sliced them up. They were pulled out of their mothers' arms. Her aunt (her mother's brother's wife), has returned to her parents' village in Gulbarga now, after her two children, Nilofer and Sohail, were burnt alive.

This witness, when trying to escape asked some Hindu women from the locality for a drink of water. They refused. She then went to the SRP post. She asked a man in uniform there to allow her to go to the big water tank where she could get some water but he refused. He said the orders were that she was not to be allowed further. He added laughing, “Ye h tumhara akhri din hai, vaise bhi tum marne wale ho” (“This is the last day of your life, you're going to die anyway”). It was a police officer in uniform, who said this to the witness. This witness and many others testified to the taunting demeanour of the SRP men who did not help them at all. In fact, many were whistling at the victims from their location up there, jeering and laughing. They were also playing religious songs (mandir ke gaane, bhajans) on the tape recorder, blasting them at full volume. They also as- saulted young Muslim boys, grabbing hold of them, pulling them by their hair, shov- ing them around saying, “Hato, hato!” (“Move, Clear off!”) The police have not re- corded the statements of this witness and she had not received compensation either. She expressed the wish to use the compensation money for rehabilitation but not at Naroda where all was lost for her and many others.

After the first attack on the morning of February 28, the second assault began around 2.30 p.m. when the mobs gathered on all sides of the basti. There was ample time between the first round of attacks and the second for the police to have galvanised enough forces. This time, according to witnesses, many from the attackers were carry- ing jerry-cans (kerba) filled with kerosene, diesel [kaala tel] and black oil from the ST workshop. They first poured this on some of the victims nearest at hand. The workers present at the ST workshop were observed supplying them with black oil (diesel?) which they then used in the arson. The aggressors were lighting balls of cloth and throwing them on the victims. They were throwing fuel and fire-balls at the residents from the rooftops of nearby buildings as well. Many of those who were trying to come out of the area were pushed back, prodded with long sticks. Over four dozen wit- nesses from Naroda, living at in different camps in Ahmedabad city during the visit by members of the Tribunal, narrated the fact that more than 150 calls for help had been made to the commissioner of police PC Pandey on his mobile phone. Initially, they received terse responses, after which, witnesses averred, the mobile was simply switched off.

The falsity of the official figures, which suggested only around 70 deaths in the Naroda Patiya incident, was evident from the testimonies of so many survivors who have listed in detail the missing persons from that area and who named their kith and kin, whom they had seen dying in front of their eyes. The actual death toll has to be much higher. Many also narrated how SRP men misguided a large group of people who were trying to escape into a trap, where the mob killed them and threw the bodies into a well. Most of the dead bodies were charred or mutilated beyond recognition and an overwhelming majority of the survivors did not manage to have access to the bodies of their relatives in order to perform the last rites in a dignified manner.

Dozens of eyewitnesses who deposed before the Tribunal described gory incidents where children were burnt alive and women were raped. One woman, Kauser Bano, who was nine-months' pregnant, had her belly cut open and her foetus wrenched out, then swung on the edge of a sword before being dashed to the ground and flung into the fire. According to eyewitness accounts, at least two more women were subjected to a similar fate. The enormity and ferocity of the attack forced all the surviving residents of the settlement to run away. Every house was looted and some burnt. The entire settlement was completely devastated.

The Tribunal also recorded the testimony of an eyewitness to the rape of Khairunissa, daughter of Marukh Bano. An animal-like mob of 11 gang raped her. Soon after the brutal act, they burnt the family alive one by one. The mother's head was cut off. Those bodies of this family that could be found were in a horrifying brutalised condition.

The violence at Naroda Gaon and Patiya was marked, as in other areas of Gujarat, by pre-meditated and sinister levels of violence and, at the time of the Tribunal's visit, arson burn among was a recurrent factor. Sexual crimes against women and girls, including rape, were determinedly used.

An eyewitness to the murder of 6-year-old Imran also deposed before the Tribunal. The witness described how petrol instead of water was poured into the mouth of 6-year-old Imran. A lit matchstick was then thrown into his mouth and the child just blasted apart. The 76-year-old father of Kauser Bano, who lost seven family members including his pregnant daughter, has survived along with his nephew, Javed Ismail, a 14-year-old who was working. This witness testified before the Tribunal. His parents were burnt in front of his eyes. He heard the mob, who attacked with iron rods and lathis before using arson, shouting, “You have burnt our train, we will not let you go!” Javed was badly hurt himself. He was hit on the head with a metal rod/pipe and fell unconscious. Before he was attacked he saw the assailants hitting a young girl from the neighbourhood on the groin (pisaab ki jagah) with metal rods/pipes and then killing her. He was then assaulted by a man who hit him on the eye and he fell down unconscious.

Young Javed's father, Ismailbhai, a tailor, and two other family members, his mother and sister, were also killed. Only his uncle, Kauser Bano's father is alive. None of the dead in this family could be identified.

Kauser Bano's father told the Tribunal that he now had little with which to live. The gold ring that he wore would be used for the costs of his funeral. Many victim-survivors from Naroda Patiya had to be hospitalised and were admitted to VS hospital or LG hospital for several days. Many were re-united with their families after a week or ten days. The severity of burn injuries on the victims could be observed by the Tribunal, especially among those living at the Sundaramnagar relief camp. There has been no aid or relief for victims of burn injuries though arson was a technique of violence that was used relentlessly in the post-Godhra carnage.

According to the testimonies of witnesses as recorded by the Tribunal, at least 80 people were burnt alive and thrown into the well, Tisra kua, behind Gangotri and Gopi Park, behind the ST workshop. A 70-year-old woman, Tarkas bibi Abdul Ghani, was burnt alive. The police was completely inactive and this provided inspiration to the mob. The message was, “Muslim ko zinda jalao” (“Burn the Muslims alive”). The shocking thing was that the SRP also supported the mob. Tear gas was being flung at the Muslim mohalla (neighbourhood), which was, in fact, being targeted by the mobs.

As one witness maintained: “… I saw them do this. We ran on ahead and by the time I reached our mohalla it must have been about 3 p.m. By this time we were really worried. The mob had started burning houses, looting, throwing petrol and setting fire to buildings. Since ours were kaccha houses (crude/impermanent structures), we climbed on to the roofs of pucca RCC buildings nearby. There were many of us, in- cluding women and children at Gopinath, Gangotrinagar. This was at about 3-4 o'clock in the afternoon.

Between 5 and 6 p.m., when the mob was at the height of its frenzy, many of our women were first raped and then doused in kerosene and petrol and burnt… I saw them doing this”

Fathers testified with pain and humiliation about the rape of their daughters. One Sufiya Bano, aged 22 years, was raped and burnt in front of her father. The Civil Hospital, where she was admitted and later died, confirmed the attack on her. When her father, a witness who deposed before the Tribunal, tried to save his daughter, he was brutally caught hold off and his beard cut off. Seven members from this family were killed — three sons — Mehmood (18 ), Ayub (14) and Hussain, (7 ), three daughters — Sufiyabano (22), Afrinbano and Shahinbano (4), and his wife, Lalibibi (40).

Naroda Gaon and Patiya possibly witnessed the worst intensity of violence as also the most planning. Close to 150 persons are estimated to have been burnt alive after being hacked, cut, gang raped. It is shocking that months after such gruesome carnage the state has made no attempts to compute exact figures of loss of life. Bodies were thrown into a well. Women have been killed in very large numbers. At the mass grave that was dug on March 6, to provide burial to 96 bodies from Naroda Patiya, 46 women were buried. Victim-survivors of Naroda Patiya do not have any papers to show proof of existence or residence. There are no death certificates since no remains were found as bodies were burnt to ashes. The government has done nothing to address this problem. A majority of families from here have migrated back to Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan. The scale and brutality of the violence needs not only to be recorded in detail but dealt with firmly. Swords, iron rods and trishuls were used in the attacks. Limbs of victims were severed off, before many were just quartered; while girls and women were stripped and paraded naked, before being raped and burnt. Most bodies were not recovered. How could they be?

Apart from the police, including PI, KK Mysorewala, who told victims who begged for help, that “today there are no orders to save you”, witnesses also testified that some SRP police also supported the miscreants. Some of the SRP personnel report- edly told the victims that “Tumko aaj andar nahi lenge, tumko aaj marneka hai” (“We won't allow you in (to shelter in the SRP post) today, today you have to die”). Many workers from the ST Workshop, government employees, were also involved. They were shouting “Jai Shri Ram!” and they threw stones at the victims and also supplied the fuel/diesel (kaala paani) for burning. Neither the SRP nor workers from the ST Workshop came to the aid of those being attacked.

The scale and the brutality of the attack suggest obvious pre-planning and training – especially considering that the attack on this neighbourhood went on for no less than seventeen and a half hours. Finally, it was under police escort provided by addi- tional CP Tandon at 2.30 a.m. that Sharif Khan of Shah-e-Alam Camp rescued vic- tims of Naroda Gaon and Patiya on the morning of February 29.

One of the significant testimonies recorded by the Tribunal was of young men from the area of Naroda Gaon and Patiya who had attended Bajrang Dal Camps at Sardarnagar and Dwarkanagar on a weekly basis. These camps had started since Au- gust-September 2001. Some of these meetings were secret, only meant for trusted mantris. Swords and trishuls were distributed at these camps. Youth were galvanised to be in a constant state of military preparation for a 'war' about to take place. The regular indoctrination at these camps, as recorded by those who had attended them, and who divulged details about the same to the Tribunal, was that the main 'target of hatred' was Muslims. Members who attended and were being trained were also as- sured of protection from the police and from the organisation if anything were to happen to them. Many persons who deposed about the camps expressed the opinion that the training made ordinary young men become terrorists.

At Naroda, 1,100 homes belonging to Muslims were first looted and then 25 per cent of these were burnt. Witnesses spoke about a particular substance – a packet of whitish powder, which when thrown on a person's skin made the skin peel off. Once the flesh was bared, people were burnt to death. Many witnesses saw the attackers throw this whitish substance. They used their hands to throw it but witnesses could not say whether the attackers used something to protect themselves when they threw it. In Naroda, Shahin Bano (22), spoke of one Hindu family living there who, she thought, must have heard that something was going to happen because they ran away the night before the attacks began. Several witnesses who deposed before the Tribunal were eyewitnesses to Dr. Jaideep Patel (VHP) and Maya Kotdani (BJP MLA) actually leading the mobs. They were also instrumental in encouraging other accused to commit violent sexual crimes. Other accused among politicians were Ashok (MLC) and Vallabh(MLC) named di- rectly by eyewitnesses.

One of the main accused, Bhavani Singh Chhara was identified by many witnesses as intimidating and threatening residents before the attack. He was involved in the most loathsome crimes. He has another name but people called him Bhavani. He is a driver working for AMTS, has a son who is a lawyer practising at Bhadra Court, and lived in the mohalla/area. Witnesses said that he has a big moustache and is a Chhara (Tribal), a Rathod. He was responsible for stripping girls and women, parading them and then raping them. Young boys of eight have witnessed crimes of this nature against women who were their sisters and mothers. Limbs of women were dismem- bered, a variety of objects were thrust into women's bodies. Apart from Bhavani Chhara, Suraj Chhara and many Chharas from Chharanagar were in the mob, espe- cially initiating the crimes against women. Guddu Chhara son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya (local level BJP/VHP worker), one of the accused, was absconding from the neighbourhood when the Tribunal recorded evidence.

Jaideep Patel (second in rank to Praveen Togadia of the VHP) was the leader of the mob. A doctor by profession, Jaideep Patel was one of those who travelled in the motor cavalcade from Godhra to Ahmedabad and incited persons along the way. Guddu Chhara, son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya; Ratilal son of Bhavani Singh; AMTS driver, Mungna Chhara; the Owner of Manoj Video Pvt. Firm; Murli Naran Sindhi; Satish Mahadik; Bipin Panchal (a dangerous person who is said to have a lethal gun, he is the owner of Uday Gas Agency), are the main accused.

Ratilal, AMTS driver Mungna Chhara and the owner of Manoj Video were the rapists. Bipin Panchal, also known as Bipin Sindhi, (a local level BJP/VHP worker), is believed to have 400-500 gas cylinders in stock. Many of them were used to explode homes and other buildings. It is believed that trucks from Shola Satellite area were commissioned to enable the huge mob to move freely.

Indicted:

  • Naroda violenceVasant Rathod,
  • Solanki,
  • Ashok (BJP MLC),
  • Vallabh (BJP MLC),
  • Mayabehn Kotdani ( BJP MLA),
  • Dr Jaideep Patel (second in rank to Praveen Togadia of the VHP), for leading the mob.
  • Guddu Chhara, son of Mukesh Jiwanlal Banya (local level BJP/VHP worker)
  • Ratilal, son of Bhavani Singh
  • AMTS driver, Mungna Chhara
  • Owner of Manoj Video Pvt. Firm
  • Murli Naran Sindhi
  • Satish Mahadik
  • Bipin Panchal Sindhi, owner, Uday Gas Agency (local level BJP/VHP worker)
  • Jai Bhagwan (Gangotri apartments); (local level BJP/VHP worker)
  • Naresh and Chotta, (local level BJP/VHP worker)
  • Praveen Modi,
  • Langda Chhara,
  • Natarajwala Sindhi,
  • Sangeet Furniturewala Sindhi.
  • Accused of Rape: Ratilal, AMTS driver Mungna Chhara and owner of Manoj Video
  • Accused (assailants): Bajrang Dal/VHP activists
  • Accused (police): the IGP, commissioner of police, PC Pandey, and PI, KK Mysorewala

 

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