Parsi couple still hopes to find son lost in 2002 riots

August 4th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Ritu Sharma
Ahmedabad, Aug 4 (IANS) The real life story of Jebunissa Shaikh, who was separated from her son Muzaffar during the 2002 riots and has located him after a six-year search, has rekindled hopes in Parsi couple Rupa and Dara Mody that their missing son would some day also be found. The couple’s 14-year-old son Azhar went missing Feb 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning sparked violent riots in Gujarat that claimed over 1,000 lives.

“Jebunissa’s story has strengthened our hopes of finding our son. I know he is alive,” Rupa Mody asserted while speaking to IANS at her home in the Satellite City neighbourhood of Ahmedabad where the family shifted after the riots.

Azhar went missing after a mob attacked the Mody’s home in the Gulberg Society. He is one of the many who have remained untraced so far.

His parents have been searching for him since then. More than anything else, what binds the Mody family together is this search - as also of his memory captured in a fading photo album, including his last image in his school uniform and holding the tricolour.

Azhar’s sister Binaifer, who is readying for an examination for a place in an engineering college, still remembers him as a loving brother and hopes he will return.

The trauma faced by this god-fearing, middle class Parsi family, years after the carnage, inspired filmmaker Rahul Dholakia to make the much-acclaimed film “Parzania”.

“Many people from across the country telephoned us after seeing the film. They said they recalled seeing our son somewhere. This gives us strength to continue our search,” Rupa Mody said.

The memory of the fateful day is still etched in their memory and the family is not prepared to move back to their three-room house in the Gulberg Society, which remains locked to this day.

“We can not think of going back to Gulberg Society. The communal tension has not died down in the area,” Mody said.

Muzaffar’s tale has a poignant twist to its conclusion.

Separated from his parents Jebunissa and Salim Shaikh when they fled the poverty-stricken Dhoop Singh Chali neighbourhood in the wake of the riots, he was found by a police constable who took the boy to his cousin Meena Patni’s house.

Meena and her husband Vikram took the boy under their wing and named him Vivek, without knowing about his true identity.

A special investigation team appointed by the Supreme Court discovered his whereabouts and informed the Shaikhs that Muzaffar alive. A DNA test confirmed that Jebunissa was Vivek’s mother.

A court here, however, ruled last month that given the loving care Muzaffar had received all these years, and also that he wanted to continue living with his adoptive parents, this arrangement would continue.

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