Sunday, November 25, 2012

Edgy Narodians happy, but scared too

Gujarat EDN
DNA 01SEP2012

Victims in Naroda Patia are a relieved bunch, ten years after a mob tore their lives asunder
Even if he (Narendra Modi) does not apologise, he should say at least once that what happened was not right, believe victims of the Naroda Patia massacre
Jumana Shah & Roxy Gagdekar
When BJP MLA Maya Kodnani and former VHP leader Babu Bajrangi were awarded 28 years and lifetime in jail, respectively, the survivors of the 2002 massacre in the narrow lanes of Naroda Patiya could barely celebrate.
The reason: most of them had migrated the previous night to other areas fearing violence. Those bold residents, who had decided to stay back, sat edgily on the porch of their houses, their eyes nervously probing every passerby.
It was here that Bajrangi had slit open the womb of a pregnant woman, pulled out the foetus and killed it, raped the mother and killed her too. A decade later, when that man was sentenced to whole life in jail, deep in the dark by-lanes of this minority ghetto, residents called out to each other, careful to keep decibels low. They were as happy as they were scared. Or perhaps, petrified is the more accurate word.
“About 75% of the families in the area have left for a few days one pretext or another to their relatives' homes in other areas of the city, or are staying at some dargah. Especially those with young girls have taken flight. What happened to women in 2002 was terrible. We still cannot forget that horror,” said 50-something Rashida Mansuri, whose house was burnt down and her husband is a witness.
If one cared to count, more policemen could be seen at the scene of crime on Friday than residents. But they were still scared. Another resident watching passersby from her porch, Abida Sheikh, said: “We haven't slept for the last three nights. Even tonight we will be alert. We cannot trust these cops. What if they say at the last minute that we had orders from up above, like they did the last time?” CM Narendra Modi would have us believe that Gujarat is a different society today. He has often attested that Muslims here are not marginalized, that they are more prosperous and are as much a part of the state's urbanization and development process as any other community. If so, why are these women feeling unsafe even today?
When probed whether she was relieved and satisfied with the verdict, Mansuri finally smiled (though she used her dupatta to hide it), “Aaj biryani banegi.”
An activist and resident of the area, Nazir Pathan is the only eloquent person in the locality. “They got what they deserved. The verdict is excellent; it will ensure that such a massacre does not happen again at the behest of politicians. But I still believe Modi should have come once to console the victims. Even if he does not apologise, he should say at least once that what happened was not right,” he said.
The muted exchanges in the bylanes hid more than they revealed. Nervous onlookers were not forthcoming with their reactions, till categorically quizzed by DNA on whether they were still angry or relieved, happy or indifferent that the conspirators had also been punished severely. Refusing to be identified, they said: “There is no anger; we are happy, even relieved. In fact, we are not angry with Modi anymore. We only hate him.”

Victims in Naroda Patia are a relieved bunch, ten years after a mob tore their lives asunder
Roxy Gagdekar.DNA