[Ehsan Jafri (left) was murdered by Hindu mobs during anti-Muslim riots. His wife (centre), Zakia is campaigning to bring Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi (right) to justice]
Ehsan Jafri, an Indian MP, was brutally murdered at his home by Hindu mobs during anti-Muslim riots in 2002. More than 2000 Muslims were murdered, hundreds of Muslim women raped across Gujarat.
Jafri’s daughter, Nishrin, was in London earlier this month to bring awareness of her family’s campaign to bring Gujarat’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who has been implicated in the riots, to justice.
Jafri, who won the Ahmedabad seat in the 1977 Lok Sabah (Lower House of Parliament) elections, despite his Congress Party was routed in most Indian states, was dismembered alive outside his house and burnt to death, on February 28, 2002 by a group of anti-Muslim Hindu rioters. At 10 am on that day, Nishrin told The Muslim News, hundreds of Hindus gathered at the Gulbarg Society in the Chamanpura suburb of Ahmedabad and began attacking Muslims, their homes and businesses.
Nishrin said their house, like of other Muslims, was burnt down and “we couldn’t find our mum because the house was completely burnt down. 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings housing around 500 people in the complex were attacked and torched. By evening, around 69 people were charred to death. Gory details of how former Congress MP was hacked limb by limb at Gulbarg Society, then burnt, were reported in the Indian media.
Nishrin said that the numbers of rapes were far more than those reported because these experiences “were not only deeply traumatising and humiliating but that it was a taboo speaking about them.” Many of them were gang raped and many killed after being raped.
She said that in the Gulbarg society, where she grew up and the area around it, every Muslim house had been burnt down and every family had lost loved ones – deep scars of these losses remain. Her family and other Muslims lived as refugees for a year.
She said her father had been against the ghettoisation of Muslims and committed to living in a mixed Hindu and Muslim area even after the riots of 1969.
Nishrin’s family are accusing Modi in being complicit in the killings. She said when her farther phoned the Chief Minister for help during the attacks, he reportedly replied, “You are on your own Jafri, save yourself.”
According to First Information Report (FIR) of the incident filed by police inspector KG Erda, the violent Hindu mob started attacking Muslim owned establishments in the morning and was dispersed by the police. However, they reassembled around 1 PM armed with swords, sticks, pipe and kerosene. They used gas cylinders to blast through walls in the Gulbarga society. The report also mentions that the rioters were guided by voter lists and computer printouts with the addresses of Muslim-owned properties
Chamanpura is in central Ahmedabad and around a kilometre from the police station, and less than 2 km from the Police Commissioner’s office. Believing the area to be safe given Jafri’s presence, many Muslims in the area had gathered in his compound. Around 10:30 in the morning, the Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police, P C Pandey, personally visited Jafri and apparently assured him that police reinforcement would be coming. In the next five hours, Jafri repeatedly kept calling the police and other Government officials requesting protection but no help arrived. The FIR by Erda further stated that the police station had 130 policemen on duty that day, and were well armed with teargas shells. However, no one was deployed to disperse the crowd, despite Jafri and top Congress politicians repeatedly contacting the Director General of Police, Police Commissioner, the Mayor, Leader of Opposition in the State parliament, and other top government officials.
On June 8, 2006, Zakia, wife of Jafri, submitted a complaint, alleging the police had not registered FIRs against Narendra Modi and 62 others including several ministers and top officials of the state administration. However, the police refused to lodge the complaint. On March 26, 2008, the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Modi Government to re-investigate nine cases in the 2002 Gujarat riots, including the Gulbarg Society incident. The court constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI director Dr RK Raghavan to probe the cases afresh.
In March, 2009 the SC asked SIT to look into Zakia’s complaint over the role of Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, and others.
Eventually SIT submitted its report to the apex court, saying there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations.
On June 18, 2011, Ramchandran visited Ahmedabad and met material witnesses and others to prepare his report on SIT’s report.
On July 25, 2011, Ramchandran submitted his report, in which he differed from SIT’s conclusion and submitted that Chief Minister, Modi, can be prosecuted based on the available evidence.
However, SC decided to keep the report confidential and declined to allow access to the Gujarat Government and SIT.
The West is now opening up to Modi expecting his right wing party, BJP, to win the forthcoming elections. The US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, met Modi on February 13 at his residence in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat state, even though his visa has been revoked by US since 2005.
UK ended its boycott of Modi in October last year despite earlier quote from the leaked report of British High Commission in India according to which the pogroms in Gujarat in 2002, “had all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing and that reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the chief minister remains in power.” It further said, “far from being spontaneous” this massacre, “was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of the state government.”
Despite evidence against the Chief Minister, in December last year, Supreme Court inquiry announced it found no evidence to prosecute Modi.
The violence against Muslims erupted after 59 people, mostly Hindu pilgrims, were killed in a fire on a train on February 27, 2002.