Hell That Was Naroda-Patiya
August 29, 2003
Gory details of
mob attacks on Muslims in Naroda-Patiya in the presence of some ruling
BJP leaders on February 28 last year were narrated today before the
Nanavati-Shah judicial inquiry commission probing the Godhra train carnage
and the subsequent communal riots in Gujarat.
There were accounts
of some women being raped and set afire and of the "connivance"
of police with the "frenzied saffron mob".
who lost eight members of her family, Naemuddin Ibrahim Sheikh, a bread
trader who lost five of his family or 40-year-old Fatimabibi Mohammad
Yusuf Sheikh, who saw police open fire on Muslims seeking police protection
from the rampaging mob which killed one person and injured three others,
broke down repeatedly while narrating their "hellish experience"
before the two-member inquiry commission.
The Vishwa Hindu
Parishad advocate cross-examined Bibibanu saying her evidence was "exaggerated"
because she had not mentioned the "rape and the burning alive of
people in her statement before police". But the sobbing woman maintained
that she was unaware of what police had recorded as her statement which
might have been "deliberately twisted", omitting certain important
details narrated by her.
Witness after witness
said that the mob, many wearing "the saffron headgear," surrounded
the Muslim residents of Naroda-Patiya from all sides, attacked them
with swords and other weapons, poured kerosene, petrol and other inflammable
materials on them and set them afire.
that her sister-in-law was stripped, raped and set afire and she herself
was also stripped naked but escaped being raped, sustaining minor burn
and young sister were also raped and though his wife later escaped,
his sister and many other women in the group were burnt alive. Fatimabibi,
who had taken shelter with her family members on the rooftop of a house,
said she saw a naked woman still in flames running up to the rooftop
where she collapsed.
Most of them named
the Hindu residents of the adjacent Gangotri and Gopinath societies
who had perpetrated the crime though they knew each other for years.
Naemuddin said when the injured were crying for help and water, the
residents poured acid on their faces and showered abuses on them.
Bibibanu and Naemuddin
alleged that when the hapless Muslims rushed towards the State Reserve
Police quarters at the other end of Naroda-Patiya, they were not only
refused protection but were turned over to the frenzied mob.
the SRP men actually showed her a newspaper report carrying the Godhra
train incident the previous day and told her, "if your men did
not do this to Hindus in Godhra yesterday, you would not have been facing
this situation today". They were further told that there was "no
instruction from above" to give protection to the Muslims and that
they would have to fend for themselves.
She said that instead
of giving them protection, police actually opened fire on the Muslims
running from the mob, killing 35-year-old Abid Ali Khan and injuring
Even as the BJP
Assembly member and the party's Ahmedabad unit president, Mayaben Kodnani,
has denied her presence in Naroda on that day as alleged by some Muslim
victims, the 62-year-old Shardaben Patel, a retired principal of the
local girls school, confirmed that Mayaben was present with the mob.
She, however, said
that besides Ms. Mayaben and some other BJP and VHP leaders, some local
Congress leaders were there in Naroda at that time but for seeking more
police assistance as the mob had become uncontrollable.
However, later a
local BJP worker, Bansilal Prajapati, claimed before the Commission
that he spent the entire day with Ms. Mayaben on February 28 and she
was engaged in the Assembly and later in the civil hospital and "did
not go to Naroda even for a minute."