Thursday, November 22, 2012

Victims Speak Their Mind

Gujarat EDN

DNA 29AUG2012

“They should get stringent punishment”
“I have lost eight members of my family only because we were trapped in a conspiracy framed by our neighbour to kill us and I want them to be punished at any cost.” These are the words of Shakilabanu Ahmed (40), who lost her mother, two brothers and their families in the 2002 riots. Ahmed is a crucial witness who can prove the violence perpetrated by Sahzad Chhara, Manu Bhangi and Suresh Langda. Her statement, which has been recorded by the Special Investigation Team, could invite a long prison term for the accused. Living with her four kids and husband in a rented house in Patia, Shakila’s eyes were wet with tears and her voice was heavy with emotion as she said: “I always pray to God, that what happened to us should never happen to anyone else in the world. She said that the judiciary should set such an example in this case, that no one – irrespective of religion – would ever think of killing anyone. “I want the culprits to get such a punishment that no one will think of instigating or perpetrating communal riots again,” she said. While recalling the ill-fated day, she mentioned how her family members were cheated by the accused and were trapped among the rioters.
“Location of house saved me and my family”
“I and my family members are alive only because our house is in the interior parts of Patia. However, my house was looted and set on fire by the rioters,” said Nazir Mohammad, a shopkeeper living in Patia. Mohammad, however, did not return to see his house till six months of the incident. He said he has been told by his neighbours and other victims as to how his house was looted and set on fire by persons known to him. Mohammad managed to escape from his house late in the evening on February 28, 2002, as the rioters had not yet reached the interior parts of Patia. “We ran to a nearby society and from there we managed to get outside the Patia and eventually went to Shah-e-alam refugee camp,” he said. Mohammad’s wife, Saida Banu said that their savings of a lifetime were looted by the rioters. Saida sold bangles from her house. She said that a day before the attack she purchased bangles worth thousands of rupees and all these were burnt to ashes by the rioters.
He played mediator for illiterate Patia residents
He spent six hours in a water tank filled with the water to escape the eyes of rioters. He came out of the tank late in the evening on February 28, 2002 to see a dead body in his house with a woman crying near the body. Nazir Pathan, community worker and teacher in Patia, tells DNA, “After coming out of the tank, when I saw the woman, I told her to leave the dead body of her husband there and run from the house.” He did not think of leaving because he was not able to see properly in the dark. Pathan, is the key mediator, between the victims of Patia and the different organisations who came to the area to help victims. “I helped in the surveys and remained involved in discussions to rehabilitate Patia residents,” he said. Pathan is currently the principal of a primary school run by the Islamic Relief Committee.
(NOTE- Pathan is not a victim but a person who helped in the rehabilitation )