All these years I have been meeting the survivors of that pogrom of 2002. I recall months after the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, I had visited the New Delhi situated ISS (Institute of Social Sciences) and was introduced to the then-mayor of Ahmedabad, Aneesa Mirza. And as I enquired about the conditions in her home state she shut her eyes as though in deep anguish and pleaded that I don’t bring up the topic as she falls ill and then it takes weeks for her to recover. “Please don’t mention those killings! I saw live human beings were burnt alive… though I’d witnessed several riots, nothing was so gruesome as those killings in Gujarat in 2002 …” A few years later when I tried to get in touch with her, I was told she had passed away.
On the afternoon of May 7, 2013, as Zakia Jafri spoke from a public platform in New Delhi, it was her pair of eyes that hit almost instantly. They carried immense pain. So did her voice, as she addressed the audience with ‘As – salaam – alaikum’( Peace be on you ) and then started narrating horrifying details to the Gujarat carnage of 2002; how, in front of her eyes, the right-wing mobs torched their home at the Gulbarg Society – “My husband was sure that the Congress was likely to come to power as Keshubhai had failed to deliver the goods. My husband had told me this on February 27, 2002. And he also said that the BJP could come to power only by whipping up the anti – Muslim sentiments and that the BJP could use the Godhra incident and convert it into an opportunity for votes. And the very next morning, that is on February 28, our neighbours started pouring into our home, asking whether my husband was at home …they had looked re-assured that he was there. But by 9 am, it was apparent that tension was building up in our area. First, shops and then vehicles were burnt and looted . Then a boy was attacked and injured and later he took shelter in our home but he too was killed by the rioters who attacked and burnt our home …As the Police Commissioner did not visit our Society even as the situation was getting uncontrolled, so my husband went out on the road and met him in full public view and requested him for additional deployment of forces but no police help came. And killings started and continued …69 people known to us were killed there on that same day yet no police help came to stop the carnage, those killings went on …”
On the role of the police, Zakia detailed, “Police was not to be seen in our Gulbarg Society or in the surrounding area till about late evening. By then our society was completely burnt down and looted. Many residents were burnt alive. I cannot forget those scenes: those rioters tearing off clothes of women and brutalizing them. I saw those charred bodies…Late evening the police came when the genocide was near complete. There was total destruction all around. There were dead bodies …most were burnt beyond recognition. Even at that stage, the role of the few Dy SP level police officers was terrible…”
Published at Thu, 13 Feb 2020 08:08:00 +0000