Tuesday, July 17, 2012

‘I want stern punishment for mum, sister’s killers’

Says 21-year-old survivor of Naroda Patia riots Raja Qureshi, an autorickshaw driver, who lost his kin in the communal frenzy of February 28, 2002

For 21-year-old Raja Qureshi, an autorickshaw driver, June 30 may bring an end to his decade-old wait for justice. The youth has been reeling from pain ever since he lost his mother and the eldest sister to rioting mob on February 28, 2002. A special court hearing the Naroda Patia massacre case is likely to pronounce judgment on June 30. 
“The day was tense since morning. I didn’t know the cause but realised that we can be attacked. For what reason I wasn’t aware. In the evening, I saw a mob rushing to our vicinity. We left our house and ran for safety but I got separated from my family. Suddenly, I heard the screams of my mother and sister. I looked back only to find them in the clutches of murderers.They stabbed my mother and hit my sister with an iron pipe. I wanted to rescue them but couldn’t. A few moments later, the mob set them on fire,” said Raja who was an 11-year-old kid then. 
“I survived because I fled to nearby instil fear among the wrong doers and they do not ever commit such heinous crime. I pray nobody suffers the way we have,” said Raja’s elder sister Rukhsar. 
Like Raja, 50-year-old Saiyad Sardar Ali is also hopeful of getting justice for his deceased wife Salima. 
“My wife was physically challenged but worked in a factory to help me financially. That day, I asked her to take leave from job as the situation was tense. But she didn’t agree and went. After sometime, she came back and told me that a group has attacked our area. We were to gather at a hall where our community members had gathered. I rushed holding my youngest daughter but Salima was left behind. Her cry for help caught my attention. As I turned back to take Salima along, I saw her in flames. The mob had burnt her to death,” said Ali who deals in scrap. 
SRP quarters where one of my classmates would live. They were Hindus but provided me shelter. The family shifted me to a relief camp in Shahibaug where I reunited with my father and siblings after a week. I have faith in judiciary but want a stern punishment for those who killed my mother and sister for no reason,” he said. 
“Allah will not pardon the butchers who killed hundreds of innocent people. But we want exemplary punishment for the guilty so that it would.