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Aftermath of shahadat

SURAT

A 19-year-old girl who was gang-raped and tonsured is convalescing in the Surat Civil Hospital.

She is one of the victims who was pulled out from the ill-fated Bhusaval-bound train on December 10. Her brother who was accompanying her to Dhulia was stabbed and burnt alive in front of her.

A 20-yer-old girl married recently to a religious leader and come from Assam to Surat was also gang-raped. Her husband was slaughtered in front of her. She is now struggling for life at the Sarvajanik Hospital, following an acid attack.

Another victim, in her early twenties and the sister of a Surat police officer, also met with a similar fate on the night of December 7 on Varachha Road.

Tragedy struck Surat women with a vengeance. And for them, it was hell let loose. These are some of the gruesome cases that have come to light. How many women have been gang-raped is now known but the tales which some of the women relate at different relief camps are shocking.

Vijaynagar-II, Vishramnagar, Tunkinagar, J.P. Nagar, Sandasnagar, adjoining areas of Dawal Shah Peer Dargah on Ved Road are the societies where the women were subjected to such barbaric acts. The night of December 8 would go down as the darkest night the residents ever saw in their lives.

With no police at all to stop the frenzied mobs, a grisly drama of murder, loot, rape and sadism at its worst was enacted. While men were thrown into bonfires, torched alive or had burning tyres put around their necks, women were stripped of all their clothes and ordered to 'run - till they can run'.

As the naked Muslim women ran for their lives shivering and shuddering children clinging to them, the ancient system of tripping horses was applied. Sticks and ropes were used as hurdles, so that several of them tripped and fell down becoming easy prey for these hoodlums.

Yet another unfortunate woman who is also taking shelter in the same camp has become a widow at 22 after her husband was butchered. A fifth victim recalls that she had just prepared food for the family when her husband called from the stairs that he would just go down and ask the children to come up-stairs, as the situation was very tense. He went down never to return. Later as the family fled the home following another attack, his father was hacked to death and his three-year-old grandson suffered sword injuries on the head.

Perhaps the plight of Jamilabanu, who is several months pregnant is the most tragic of all. Having seen her husband and three children being slaughtered in front of her own eyes and their bodies being hurled into a bonfire, she had lost her mental balance. She was amongst the several women who where brought to the camp totally naked, thanks to the help from a local leader. Lying in one of the corners of the camp office, she did not open her eyes many days.

The same story is narrated in the other camps. Not a tear has so far been shed by a young boy who saw his mother and young sister being gang-raped and later torched to death.

"I just pretended I was dead," another riot victim narrated. She along with her brother and sister-in-law were proceeding towards their native Dhulia by the ill-fated Surat-Bhusaval train when the killers struck. She was gang-raped, beaten hollow by sticks, set on fire and thrown on the rail track.

Many of the young girls in the affected areas are still missing. Whether they are still alive or not and in what condition, no one knows.

An independent fact-finding team, visited Surat, following reports of mass rape of Muslim women on December 7 and 8.

The seven member team from Bombay was assisted by three women in Surat who had earlier visited the effected neighbourhoods.

Altogether 15 women were interviewed, including two rape victims, relatives of seven women (who were burnt alive after being raped), four sexually molested and two others.

Noted Gandhian, Dr. Usha Mehta, and Ms Hansa Rajda revealed how the entire incident was premeditated. This was indicated by the fact that in some f the affected areas, notably Vijay Nagar, the wives and children of Hindu men had been sent away to relatives staying elsewhere.

Afterwards, electric wires were cut, plunging the entire area in darkness but powerful floodlights were used to focus on the rape victims after they were dragged out of their homes and then they were set upon.

In one particularly horrific incident, and 18-year-old girl, Yasmin witnessed her mother being fatally attacked and she herself was stripped and raped by 10 people whom she could identify later, before being set on fire. However she managed to escape and was later discovered cowering in fear.

A seven-month pregnant woman, Zaheeda had to watch children being torn apart before her eye and watch her husband being hacked to death. She has become mentally unhinged and has been admitted to hospital.

The speakers said that all this was done in the name of "Maryada Purshottam Ram" and the barbaric deeds went beyond the pale of anything remotely human. Several Hindu homes, which were inscribed with "Jai Shri Ram, Hindu Ka Makaan" (Hindus home) on the outside, were spared of the vandalism, burning and looting.

"To say that these stories made us shudder and hang our heads in shame would be a very mild expression of our hurt feelings as we felt that what had happened was not merely the rape of woman but the rape of humanity," the speakers emphasised.

What made the unbearable atrocities even worse, the team said, was the misbehaviour of the police who were taking them to hospital later. They called for action to be taken against the keepers of law and order for their "extremely insensitive behaviour".

It was also stressed that although some of the women had identified the men who raped them, they were not in custody. Moreover the police had not bothered to take their signatures on the first information report nor collected the evidence, raising doubts about the sincerity of the police.

Dr. Usha Mehta, Ms Mrinal Gore, Ms Hansa Rajda, Mr. Viral Majumdar, Ms Shahzadi Hakim, Ms Zebunnisa Urezi and Mr. A Urezi were members of the fact finding team that visited Surat on December 31.

 

 

 

RIOTS IN BOMBAY : SYSTEMATIC CARNAGE OF MUSLIMS

Bombay is the commercial capital of India where people from all the four corners of the country come seeking livelihood. It is a well known belief that no one goes hungry here. Fate of the people here turns from riches to rags and vice-versa within no time. Inhabitated by people from every region and religion of the country, Bombay never sleeps. The over crowded trains and buses are a testimony to this. According to an estimate, the Muslim population is around 2 million of the total 11 million people residing here.

December 6, 1992 was the blackest day in Indian history when the Babri Masjid was razed to the ground by Hindu fanatics. Subsequently, large scale violence and rioting erupted throughout the country. Almost all major cities were under curfew. There was an immediate reaction in all the Muslim dominated areas of Bombay where government properties and few shops of non-Muslims were attacked. There were attacks on some policemen too. Seeing the anger and fury of the Muslims the biased government machinery was geared into action and bullets were showered on Muslim youth resulting in bloodshed everywhere. More than 200 people were shot down within six days. It is to be noted that during such periods of disturbance, the police are ordered to shoot below the waist. But the majority of the victims were hit by bullets in chests, heads and stomachs. Demands to deploy the army fell on deaf ears. Thousands of Muslims were put behind bars with charges of murder and attempted murder. The police put into practice their anti-Muslim attitude during the riots as the large number of death of Muslim youths by police firing indicate and as also by the horrible treatment meted out to the arrested Muslims.

~ But worse was in store for the Muslims in Bombay. The second phase of the riots started in the first week of January 1993. Causes of its eruption are still galore in the air. But after the unfortunate day of Dec. 6 1992, what seems to be more important is not the cause of riots but rather the strategy applied against the Muslims.

The January riots was a well planned assault on Muslims of every strata, right from the hawkers to the elite.

Mr. Pramod Nawalkar, a leader of the regional fascist party of Maharashtra called 'Shiv Sena' (having members of anti-social background) when interviewed by 'The Times of India' accepted the responsibility of the riots.

Preparations for the riots had been started soon after the Dec. 6, 1992 shameful incident at Ayodhya. Names and addresses of Muslim residents and nature of their business establishments were collected from the voters' lists and other sources by the local leaders of Shiv Sena everywhere. Areas to be attacked were meticulously planned. Muslim houses and businesses in Hindu dominant areas were especially targetted. The party's newspaper 'Saamna' was efficiently used to spread hatred against the Muslims with fake and provocative reporting. The atmosphere was further charged by organising innovative rituals known as 'Maha-aartis', blocking main roads and thus leading to traffic jams in almost all the parts of the city. Derogatory and extremely abusive slogans against the Muslims then followed in the sensitive area. The nexus between the Bombay police and Shiv Sena was completely exposed during the recent Bombay riots. Ethnic cleansing of non-Maharashtrians from the city and ‘teaching a lesson’ to Muslims were the prime objectives of the Shiv Sena, whose call of 'Aamchi Mumbai' ('Bombay is ours') is well-known. So organised and systematically planned was the onslaught against the Muslims that even senior and eminent citizens of Bombay like Nani Palkhiwala and J.R.D. Tata had to demand for declaration of emergency in Bombay.

One cannot possibly cover all the horrorful events of the recent Bombay riots, the worst in the 300 years history of the city. But few cases are noteworthy.

Pratiksha Nagar in Sion was one of the worst affected areas during the riots. Not a single Muslim house in this areas was spared. All the Muslims were forced to gather in the ground and were kept hungry and thirsty for 3 days. Many of their houses were looted and then torched. It was at this place that many Hindu women too were seen having a free hand along with the miscreants in the looting spree. In fact, this area was surveyed by the Shiv Sena a week back in the garb of Housing Board officials to get the addresses of Muslims. The held-up Muslims were shifted to a safer place only after the arrival of the military.

At Indira Nagar in Ghatkopar there were around 80 Muslim houses. The local 'Baitullah Masjid' which was undergoing renovation was made the target by mobs of over 600 Hindus. The four policemen kept on guard for protecting the mosque joined the attack on the Masjid and were heard shouting slogans of 'Jai Bhawani' 'Jai Bhawani' alongwith the rioters. The local Muslims fearing attack fled with their families the next day. For the next four to five days all the Muslims houses were looted, destroyed or burnt by the Hindus. During the night the clothes and furniture from the ransacked houses of the Muslims were taken to the Baitullah Masjid and were burnt to ashes. The nearby Amrut Nagar society buildings where many middle class Muslim families reside too were not spared. Their windows were stoned and the residents were threatened not to peep outside their windows to keep watch on their movements. The roads were effectively blocked by burning tyres and placing huge stones. Arsoning and looting were efficiently carried on inspite of the imposition of curfew. Rather two policemen were seen carrying swords with the Hindu rioters and returning them when boarding the police van.

The partiality of police were witnesses by the society people when they failed to fire even when their van intercepted a crowd of over 200 Hindus attacking and stoning the buildings before the very presence of the police.

In Borivali, a western suburb of Bombay, a gruesome incident was reported. A 16-year Muslim girl and her mother were stripped naked and then made to run. The girl was then gang-raped by the Hindu fanatics behind a tree. Her brother on hearing the screams of his sister ran to save her but was murdered by swords and guptis. The mother in the naked state then running towards the police station for help, was given a saree by a Hindu woman for covering herself.

Four Muslim passengers in a taxi at Antop Hill were locked up by a Hindu mob and were burnt alive along with the taxi.

Many Muslim populated slums were set ablaze and houses of Muslims residing in Hindu localities in many parts of the city were looted completely. Many cases of looting by the policemen were also reported by newspapers. TV sets, VCRs and refrigerators were seen being taken in trucks to the police residential quarters. Hardly any shop or business establishments of the Muslims in Hindu dominated area were left untouched. Shoe-shops, bakeries and timber-marts owned by the Muslims were torched. This time even the Muslims living in posh localities of Peddar road, Haji Ali etc. did not remain safe. They received threatening calls to leave their homes. Large amounts were taken in the name of protection fees.

A significant part in the planned rioting was to kick out all non-Maharashtrians. Hence the localities of non-Maharashtrians were specially targetted and looted. They were asked not to turn their face back to Bombay again. About one lakh people left for their native places in U.P., Bihar, Tamil Nadu, etc. Thousands of shops, houses, godowns, vehicles and other properties of Muslims were either looted or set on fire. According to a BBC report, the timber burnt itself amounted to more than hundred crores. Many mosques were razed to the ground. The Imams were stabbed. And in some mosques even idols were installed. The millionaires of yesterday were found in helpless condition in many of the relief camps. The Muslim employees in many big companies like L&T, Mazgaon Dock, Mahindra & Mahindra, OTIS etc. were threatened and asked not to report to work.

Muslim Journalists, Armymen, etc. attacked

Muslim journalists and other journalists known for their anti-Shiv Sena stance were also selectively targetted and attacked by the Shiv Sainiks. The house of Mr. Haroon Rashid of ‘Urdu Blitz’ and sports writer of Sunday magazine of 'Inquilab' was looted and then burnt. Farooq Ansari, a reporter of ‘Urdu Times’ was assaulted and his house was also looted. Also same was the case with many reporters and photographers. Even non-Muslim journalists had to bear the burnt. Deepak Lokhande and Mohan Bharti of 'Mahanagar' were attacked with choppers and swords for their anti-Sena writings.

Iqbal Khan, a cricket player of the Ranji Trophy squad of Bombay was in Calcutta to participate in the 'Wills Trophy Tournament'. On his return to Bombay, he was shocked to find his home looted and levelled by Shiv Sainiks. He then had to take refuge somewhere else.

Muslim Armymen were even not spared. Yusuf Narwekar was a veteran of 1965 and 1971 wars. But his patriotism could not save him from death by violent Hindu mobs. Even his repeated pleas about his patriotic credentials did not help him.

Jamaluddin who is also in the army since the last nine years got the prize of his service to the nation, when he was attacked with swords, choppers and pipes by hundreds of local Hindus. His house too was looted and then torched.

All in all, the hatred and venom of Hindu communalism has spread to some essentially life saving noble professions too. "Who are you ? Hindu or Muslim ?" asked a nurse of Nair Hospital to Jahangir Khan who was severely burnt. Expecting a prompt treatment, he said "I am a Hindu". He was then stripped and checked. And was consequently punished by un-attending him for three days, till his relatives shifted him to a private hospital. In other major hospitals too, injured Muslims were observed to be lying for more than 24 hours without any medical help. Statements such as "Go to Pakistan. You won't feel the pain there" were often heard from the nurses.

While in another case a reporter of a daily newspaper called on the Fire Brigade for help only to be asked "Whose building is it?" The reporter replied, "Most of the residents are Muslims". "Who are the attackers?" The reporter answered "Hindus". Pat came the reply from the fire station "Let them burn. If someone happens to be saved, we will send him to Pakistan".

Role of Police and SRP :

The riots erupted when, after the Babri Masjid was razed, the police and SRP came on the street displaying utmost alertness and vigility, practicing their firing on the chests of Muslims youth. Many political leaders criticised this move of indiscriminate firing without any warning. Some policemen were brought to book with the help of eye-witnesses. Making this an excuse the police this time abstained from firing initially.

This excuse of the police does not make any sense. Because on one hand in Muslim localities it was resorting to indiscriminate firing with "shoot at sight" orders, whereas goons of Shiv Sena were left free. The newspapers criticized the police commissioner, Mr.S.K. Bapat for always declaring the death toll to be less than half of the actual. When people were attacked by mobs of hundreds and the police were called, they remained mute spectators. So to defend themselves people went for acid bulbs, petrol bombs, etc. The police would then immediately come for search operations and the Muslims without their weapons were then left at the mercy of the miscreants. The police cleverly blocked all the Muslim-dominated localities in the name of curfew. And the scattered Muslims living in the suburbs were left for the goons to take over.

Residents of Chacha Nagar, Jogeshwari say that while the SRP blocked them on all sides, the miscreants were setting ablaze the houses of Muslims scattered in the surrounding areas. In Behrampada (Bandra East) Muslims had just finished their Friday Namaz that a bomb exploded and the Namazis started running helter-skelter. Brick batting and stone throwing started from both sides. The police intervened and started firing on the Muslims. On being questioned by a journalist as to why did the police not fire on both the parties, he was replied that "Muslims were having weapons".

The case of the Shiv Sena MLA, Madhukar Sarpotdar arrested with a revolver and other weapons along with rioters in his vehicle was well taken over by the press and he was immediately released.

A MLA of Shiv Sena from Nirmal Nagar (Bandra East) was caught red handed with six men (which included a notorious gangster) along with three revolvers, two choppers, two hockey sticks, etc. by the army. They were handed to the police picket who released them simply saying that they had received orders from the higher authorities. A Corporator from Tardeo, Ms. Shantabai Barai who was rescuing Muslims from Tulsiwadi was shot dead by the police. The excesses of the police can be gauged from the fact that they could not bear the relief operations carried on by the Jaaffri Youth Federation ambulance and the driver was pulled out and nine bullets were pumped into his body from point blank range and the ambulance set on fire, whereas even during a war the medical personnel are not attacked.

The dubious role of the police have been further exposed by the taped recordings of their wireless messages calling the Muslims as 'Landyas' and inciting and instructing the Hindus against the Muslims. The taped cassettes have now been handed over to the chief minister for further investigations.

Many cases of giving cover and protection to mobs of Hindu rioters by the police have come to light. In Maulana Chawl (Ghatkopar) the police gave about 8 helmets to the Hindu youth who led the attack followed by hundred others on the Muslim localities. Near Sandhurst Road and Imambada area the police gave cover from the Muslims and allowed the Hindus to put an entire building of Bohra Muslims on fire.

The communal face of the Bombay police can be very well judged as many of them are regular readers of the 'Saamna' newspaper of Shiv Sena. Many policemen including inspectors even dare to say that they are staunch Shiv Sainiks.

There have been innumerable cases of police atrocities. Thousands of innocent Muslims especially youth were picked up from their houses and arrested under charges of murder or attempted murder. Even 8 year old children and 75 year old men were not left out. Once behind the bars, all were beaten mercilessly by sticks, rifle butts and belts on the joints of the hands and the legs resulting in bone fractures and slip-joints. Many were forced to say "Jai Sri Ram" while others were kicked ruthlessly and asked "Bol, Mandir banega ya Masjid?" (Say, what will be built, Temple or Mosque?).

Military

Soon after December 6, the military was called in but surprisingly their activities were restricted to only flag marches. For the Bombayites it was no more than a joke. When violence erupted after Jan 4, 1993, the military was present but this time also the government had made them just a showpiece. It did not use them to control the situation. They were not even permitted to step down from their vehicles. The government was pressurised from various quarters to hand over Bombay to the military. Thus again and again rumours were deliberately spread that Bombay has been handed over to the Military. The names of Capt. Zia, Capt.Alexander and Capt.Philips with Phone No. 2151701 extension 1433 were circulated among the public. In reality, Bombay was never handed over to the military at any moment. When pressure began mounting many interesting facts were witnessed, for example, it was said the military does not have the right to fire on the civilians. Legally, no territory can be handed over to the military but in such a situation, the military can function only under the supervision of the police and local administration. Finally a special magistrate was given to each company on whose written permission only, the military could open fire. Police had full right to deploy the military where they wished. Therefore the military was restricted mostly to the Muslim dominant localities. At Masjid Bunder miscreants were destroying the properties of Muslims right under the nose of the police, suddenly a military vehicle reached the spot. The police inspector ordered them to return. Incidently the noise of "Help us Help us" reached the ears of the military commander. When he turned he saw the properties were already set ablaze by the rioters. The police inspector was still insisting on the military vehicle to return. At this point the military commander pushed him aside and took the control in his hands. Muslims of Pratiksha Nagar could be saved only after the military managed to reach there, Muslims in Behrampada could only sleep when military was stationed in the area. Now the military medical camp is offering treatment to the local residents. When the military was moved into action only then a MLA of Shiv Sena and private secretary of BJP leader Gopinath Munde (Opposition leader in Maharashtra Assembly) were arrested with revolvers.

Visits of Three Top Political Leaders

Prime Minister Narasimha Rao toured the city for a couple of hours only and did not even step out of his car to hear the grievances of the affected people. By this tour he proved how cheap the Muslim blood is for him. And also proved that he is a more committed Jansanghi than Advani and Joshi. On one hand he ignored the grief stricken Muslim masses and on the other hand he met at Rajbhavan the instigators of riots, Mr. Pramod Navalkar and the one caught carrying weapons Mr. Sarpotdar. By meeting the criminals what signal does he want to give.

The former Prime Minister Mr. V.P. Singh came and simply sat at Hutatma Chowk for an indefinite fast. Is this act of Mr. Singh justified when the life and properties of one community are at stake and those having sympathy on them simply fast and remained mute spectators. This is similar to the act of those peace loving saints in the past who when they were fed up with the world took sanyas and went to the jungle leaving the world for the mischief-mongers.

The BJP leader Mr.L.K. Advani toured the riot affected areas but instead of demanding an inquiry into the riots, he demanded to find out how the Muslims received AK-47s and how were the four persons burnt alive in Radhabai Chawl. Interestingly as usual he said that behind this riot there was a foreign hand. This statement was made despite the fact that the murderer had accepted having committed the crime. But Mr. Advani refused to hold then Shiv Sena responsible for riots.

Muslim Leadership

At the local level there is no able or mature leadership. However there are some Muslim corporators and Assembly members, who were hardly to be seen in the whole scenario. An ex-Congress corporaor Mr. Yusuf Zaveri, who did not allow the police to arrest some Muslim youth but offered himself to be arrested. He was released later on but only after he was beaten mercilessly. Housing minister Professor Javed Khan was nowhere to be seen during the riots but was present at the airport on time to receive the prime minister. At National level the Muslim leaders had a meeting and they decided to meet the President and apprise the situation. When Rajbhavan was contacted on phone the President refused to give appointment on the same day. Thus it was decided to go to the prime minister without appointment and give ‘dharna’ until the riots in Bombay were stopped. Someone suggested that it was unwise to spoil relations with the P.M. in this way and all dispersed without doing anything. Later everyone was contacting P.M., President and home minister individually and they were fooling and avoiding them while the Muslim blood continued to flow in Bombay. Finally some leaders gave dharna and had to court arrest. It is regrettable to note that even after this great catastrophe no Muslim M.P., M.L.A. or corporator resigned from his post.

Who is responsible ?

In India, no one is brought to book for any steps taken against Muslims. Everyone points his finger at the other and ultimately the blame is laid on the symbolic foreign hand. The fact that the Shiv Sena was responsible for the riots is further confirmed by the statement of their supremo, Mr. Bal Thackeray when he advised his workers saying 'stop the violence, we have shown the Muslims their place." Inspite of this Mr. Advani said that a foreign hand is responsible for it. Congress leaders say that antisocial elements, builders and to a great extent the existence of two power centres, Mr. Sudhakarrao Naik and Mr. Shard Pawar, are to blame for this nonsense. Janata Dal and Communist leaders state that it is a result of communal flare up done by BJP. Even if it is accepted that everyone is responsible for it to some extent the fact remains unchanged if the loss of life and properties is of the Muslims. WHO CARES ?

The riots have given rise to many questions:

1) If a city like Bombay can be engulfed in communal riots then can any other place be considered secure enough ?

2) To stay in this country should the Muslim accept the slavery of Brahmins ?

3) Does the treaty, with the Muslims made in the form of the constitution still exists ?

4) Will the storm end here ?

5) How can the Muslim defend themselves ?

Now the only way of the survival of Muslims in India is to revert towards Allah and to hold the 'Alam' of Islam in your hand and be determined to establish Islam in this country. The enemy will keep attacking you till you rectify your weakness and your weakness is that you have deviated from the path of Islam. If you build your fort on the foundations of Islam, no power can break it. If you seek help of any other way than Islam then beware that your example will be no different from the person who for saving himself from the waves of the flood comes down from the top of the mountain to a sand dune which will be swept away by the next wave. Every step taken in the way of 'Allah' will meet with success and that against Islam will lead to destruction.

By Muhammad Ayub & Hafiz-ur-Rehman