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
The attacks that took place in this part of Gujarat on March 1, 2002, were wide- spread and organised. The statements of villagers from Mehmdavad and Jinger Kheda district, said the crowds were 5-7,000 strong and attacked from three sides. Three- four leaders who were using mobile phones, hordes of people wearing saffron headbands and the resounding echo of abusive slogans were the lasting impressions the attacks made on a shattered rural and small-town community.
Karim Bhai Mallick, a witness from Mehmdavad whose statement was placed before the Tribunal, stated that on March 1, Mehmdavad, which is a small town with a history of communal harmony, saw violence and hatred for the first time. A Muslim majority township, Mehmdavad held out bravely under prolonged attacks that carried on through the day. However, Sarvar Khan, a karigar (craftsman) who carved mandirs (temples) from wood, was brutally slaughtered by a mob, which also tried to attack the witness.
Nearby villages like Ghodasar and Jinger, which have 50-100 Muslim houses, saw brutal murders and arson. In Ghodasar, 14 persons were hacked to death and there was nobody left to pick up the corpses. Witness S. Mansoori from Mehmdavad stated that the Darbar sarpanch of Ghodasar, Gansham Singh, saved the lives of 13-14 Mus- lims who were in danger. The maimed and gorged bodies, of persons found in the fields outside Jinger, were made public only on March 5. These 14 persons were bur- ied in nearby Jinger. In Jinger, which has a population of around 1,500 Muslims, 80 per cent of whom fled the village for months. Large mobs of about 5,000 surrounded the village and attacked the Muslims relentlessly. In Ghotas village, Hindus and Mus- lims are together even today. Haldasvar village, which had around 100 Muslim homes, faced a violent attack from the Bajrang Dal and the VHP. The Muslims managed to save Mehmdavad kasba (small town) but the farms on the outskirts were vulnerable and three persons were killed in their homes. Two were Sayeds from the Bori Roji Vista and one other. The deceased are Sarvar Khan, killed in Mehmdavad; 14 hacked to death in Ghodasar and 3 killed in Mehmdavad kasba.
Statements from residents of Mehmdavad were also placed before the Tribunal. Shafi Bhai Mansuri, ex-president of the local municipal corporation, described how Mehmdavad faced an attack from three sides. The villagers were completely taken aback. The mobs carried weapons like swords, trishuls and guptis. Twenty shops were looted and destroyed, including that of the witness. There are 9 villages in the Mehmdavad area, where unfortunately, all the Muslim homes and shops were attacked. The shops and businesses belonging to Muslims in Ghotas village and Khatrad chowki were destroyed completely, reducing people to abject poverty.
The terrorist violence that the Bajrang Dal and the VHP unleashed left the ordinary person terrified. Their attack was both physical and mental. It was meant to crush the victims. The statement of another witness, S. Mansoori, describes how there was complete peace in Mehmdavad after the Godhra incident. Residents even had a meet- ing of the Shanti Samiti (peace committee) on March 1. And then, as if from nowhere, they were suddenly attacked by a mob of 7-8,000. There are a total of 40 policemen available for Mehmdavad range and they were not enough to control the mobs, whose leaders were consulting people on mobile phones. The idea behind the attack was clear: destroy businesses, burn the shops and wherever there were Muslim peasants, kill them. This witness stated that, while 14 bodies had been found and buried in Jinger, there were 15 to 20 persons still missing. He stated that, tremendous pressure was put on the police and the revenue department to let the mobs do their work unhampered. But he and others were full of praise for DIG Kuldip Sharma, who resisted the pressure.
Statements of witnesses have raised serious questions on the issue of reha- bilitation. When villages were being wiped out and entire businesses targeted, how are Muslims supposed to handle the issue? In Kani village, even the fields and crops belonging to Muslims had been burnt. Mansoori also gave the Tribu- nal details of his son’s plight in Vasad village in Anand district. The village is dominated by Patels and the 50 businesses belonging to Muslims there were targeted. Dinshabhai Patel, the sarpanch, was leading the attack. The witness’ son Mehmood, his wife and four children, were attacked by a mob carrying re- volvers. They managed to escape because the mob was more interested in loot- ing. The mob took away 15-20 tolas of gold. The masjid and dargah in Vasad were destroyed using a bulldozer.
The statement of this witness records his anger at the calculated misreporting by newspapers like Sandesh. On March 9, Sandesh published a story saying that arms were found inside the Mehmdavad masjid. It also reported that in Daudpura area, externee criminals were to be found. This, the witness stated, was a blatant lie. Residents of Mehmdavad themselves got the police to check the masjid, who found the story to be false. The police said that they knew such news was being used to generate more hatred and violence. There are Hindus living all round them in Mehmdavad – Lohars, Thakurs and Parmars. The Muslim residents of Mehmdavad, a Muslim-majority vil- lage, were proud that they did not allow anything to happen to them.
The statement of Amar Singh Parmar of Mehmdavad was also placed before the Tribunal. A Hindu, he said that he was awake along with everyone else, battling the mobs that were trying to attack the villagers. He also asserted that there was never any disharmony in the city. The statement of Yusuf Sheikh, film distribu- tor, living in Mumbai, was also placed before the Tribunal. Asha Cinema in Mehmdavad, which he owns, was completely destroyed, causing him a loss of around Rs. 20 lakh. It was thoroughly burnt from inside and the equipment and machinery totally destroyed.
In Kheda town, Yusuf Sheikh was witness to the destruction of shops and businesses. What was most disappointing was the utter lack of response from the police to their pleas.
The Tribunal recorded statements of Yasin Bhai Mohammed Bhai Vora, ex- president, Kheda municipal corporation, who said that prior to this, Kheda town in Kheda district, had not seen violence in the past 60 years. At 12.30 p.m. on March 1, 2002, shops in the bazaar near the Jama Masjid were de- stroyed and a rickshaw was burnt. A rice mill, two kirana (provision) shops (Lucky Trading and Ismail and Co.) belonging to Mehta Bhai Gafur Bhai were burnt. One bakery (Gujarat Bakery), two shops belonging to Noor Mohammed and five cars belonging to Zubeidaben were also destroyed. About 150 local Hindus, from the Hanuman Mandir, Balapir and Baghod areas, were the ones who led the attack.
In Kheda town, the dargahs of Baban Shah Pir, Dawood Shah, Shikaru Pir and Utavla Pir were destroyed. The witnesses blamed the sarpanch and inspector of po- lice for inaction. The Kheda Relief Camp had about 2,000 people who had taken shelter from the villages and towns around.
Of a total population of 32,000, the Muslims in Kheda number 10,000. How- ever, it is the Muslims who dominated business activity in the town and the total damage they suffered as a result of the attacks amounted to Rs. 70-80 lakh. For the past two years, the RSS, VHP and the Bajrang Dal had repeatedly sought to provoke the population. Sentiments were kept on the boil. At least 3- 4 times a year, provocative pamphlets were circulated. In fact, the last such pamphlet had been circulated a month before the Godhra incident. The purpose was to create hatred against Muslims. Published anonymously, the pamphlets asked every Hindu who received it to make at least 10 copies so as to keep the circulation chain expanding.
In Nadiad city, in Kheda district, where two people died in police firing, there was not a single Muslim shop left. Fifteen or twenty shops selling TVs and other elec- tronic goods, watch shops, a bakery, a kerosene dealer and timber mart right next to the police station and the bus stand, were destroyed on February 28, 2002. At the same time, the 25 shops selling vegetables in Santram market, belonging to Hindus, were left untouched.
The two persons who died were a maulvi, Hafiz Zuber Memon, (25) and Yakub Bhai Indori (22). Pankaj Bhai Vinod Bhai Patel (known as Gotya and belonging to the BJP) accompanied the police as they fired.
Those accused of mob violence in Nadiad are: The RSS, the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Pankaj Bhai Vinod Bhai Patel (BJP), sarpanch of Kheda town. The policeman in- dicted in Nadiad: IP of Kheda town, for acting at the behest of the BJP’s Pankaj Bhai Vinod Bhai Patel.
Kanij is a 500-year-old village in Kheda district, with a population of about 10,000 including 125 Muslim families. The Muslims belong mainly to the Malik and Pathan castes. Amongst the Hindus, the main castes are the Patels, Rabaris, Darbars, Harijans and Thakurs.
On March 1, 2002, at around 7.00 p.m., as the Muslims were getting ready for dinner, they were attacked by a 2,000–3,000 strong mob. All the Muslims fled to the fields of Nainpur village situated 3-4 km away. They hid in the fields until the morning of March 3, and got food from neighbouring villagers and passers-by. When they returned, on March 3, they found 106 houses completely burnt and completely looted. The remaining 19 houses, built adjacent to Hindu houses, had been looted but spared from arson. These were mainly some kaccha jhuggis (crude huts) of the poor, and one three-storey house. The losses included household goods, agricultural implements and cattle.
An hour after they had returned, a mob collected and launched another attack on the Muslims. Zakir Mian Rasul Mian Khokar (22) fell into the hands of the mob and was killed, while others ran to save their lives. Once again they ran towards Nainpur and decided to proceed from there to Mehlaj. After a 6-7 km walk, they were again attacked by a mob near Shahdara village. Sakir Mian Rasool Mian Sheikh (18) and Shafi Mian Mirsab Mian Shiekh (20) were surrounded by the mob and killed and their bodies burnt. The rest found shelter in relief camps at Mehmdavad and Mehlaj. On March 19, Vikram Singh Darbar, a rich landowner of Kanij, sent tractors to bring the Muslims back to the village. Most families came back, and Vikram Singh provided them with food for over two weeks.
Who were the attackers? The victims denied recognising any of them, main- taining they had come from other villages though independent sources have indi- cated to the Tribunal that the mob was mainly composed of people from Kanij itself. The reason for the Muslims’ silence is that most Muslims are landowners and their livelihood is tied to the village. They also have little faith that the state will apprehend and punish those responsible for the killings and destruction. There- fore, the FIRs filed did not include the names of the attackers. Up to mid-April, no arrests had been made.
The same Darbar community, which was being praised later for their help had led the earlier attacks. The deal that victims made with the attackers included non-identifica- tion of the accused. After speaking to the victims, the Tribunal formed the definite impression that the new equilibrium was far from stable. How could they ever feel safe or think of living with the people who had destroyed them completely? The Tribunal also gathered that the larger communally surcharged atmosphere was actually used to settle village level scores. It seems that the Darbars (Rajputs) had dominated the village panchayat for the last 4-5 decades but in the recent panchayat elections, a Patel become a sarpanch due to support from the Muslims, while a Muslim became the deputy sarpanch. The attack was aimed at teaching the Muslims a lesson.
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