Gujarat Update March 8, 02

Reality What we saw

Teesta Setalvad Fr Cedric Prakash Sushobha Barve


“We have paid the price for living decently,” a Muslim resident told me (Teesta) today. He is a resident of Paldi, an area dominated by Jains. Paldi is a locality in Ahmedabad inhabited by the upper middle class. Of the 5-6,000 population, there are about 1,000 Muslims. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on March 1, 02 the residents experienced utter terror and helplessness as a mob of 3-5,000 surrounded the apartment blocks dominated by Muslims and gutted them completely. Kazmi Apartments, Elite Apartments, Delite Apartments, Corner 2 and Tarana Apartments were gutted completely. Abdullah Motimahal, Nizamuddin Momeen and Iqbal Hasmani, above 60 were attacked by men wielding swords. Despite the fact that the violence raged for seven hours, and not less than 100 calls went to the Commissioner, no help was forthcoming from the police or the fire brigade. This area has been the target of Hindu fanatics since February 2000 when a crude bomb was placed in a flat in a building owned by one Naved Siddique ro send a clear message—no Muslims moving into Paldi please. It has also been the scene of communal polarisation in 1990, the year ofLK Advani’s infamous rath yatra.

At the Naroda fruit mandi where we visited next, all seventeen wholesale fruit godowns owned by members of the Memon community were gutted with military precision. Apart from the wares (fruit), offices, computers and trucks carrying fruits were destroyed. The total loss from this is an estimated Rs 2.5-3 crores. Though distraught businessmen, hearing news of the steady destruction meted out selectively to their businesses, made no less than 50 calls to the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) they received no help or protection. The police are reported to have aided the mob, of 5,000 and there are also unconfirmed reports of daily wage earners of Hindu businessmen being engaged to carry out the job. The Beben Shah Masjid on the Swami Narayan Chawl road, just behind the fruit market was turned to rubble; when we reached we found torn and burned pages of the Koran strewn all over and the photograph of the idol of Hanuman, some diyas and ‘Jai Sri Ram’ painted in red on the wall ruins.

This is the fate of 26-30 Masjids/ Mazhars all over the city and unconfirmed reports say, 250 for all over the State.

Thereafter we visited Naroda pattiya, the scene of the worst violence where nothing but burns and ruins greeted us. All the survivors of the most brutal round of violence are in relief camps. Burned remains, a gas cylinder inside the Mosque, used to blast it effectively were all that we could see.

As we recorded yesterday, a primary assessment by the Muslim community of total loss is Rs 3,000 crores. Seventeen-18 factories in interior Gujarat, 1100 hotels belonging to chiliyas and at least 1,000 trucks owned by Muslims were targeted. All over Ahmedabad a visual tour is enough to show that the violence was both targeted and selective.


We had an intensive meeting to discuss legal strategies on the Gujarat situation today. The good thing was that this was a collective meeting and the strong mood was for concerted, not dispersed action. By the weekend, initial drafts of different legal interventions will be made ready.

“The voice of sane civil society needs to be asserted in a concerted manner through mobilisation and legal action” said Girishbhai Patel, senior jurist adding that we need to do whatever we can to build up a stiff and concerted resistance. It was unanimously decided to make a universal and public demands on the official Commission that has been announced by the State Government. These are:

In addition, a People’s Judicial Commission of Inquiry with a time frame of a few months and a series of other interventions have been worked out and will be initiated shortly.



On the issue of relief and rehabilitation of no less than 35,000 displaced persons within Ahmedabad alone, we need to make a concerted demand on the following issues:

Please join our campaign for speedy and meanigful relief and rehabilitation by faxing these demands to

K.Subha Rao

Chief Secretary

Government of Gujarat


Fax: 079-3250305


Teesta Setalvad Fr Cedric Prakash Sushobha Barve