The Gujarat story: Six years of mourning, but not a tearAugust 24th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS
Ahmedabad, Aug 24 (IANS) The sufferings haven’t ceased for many in his city - with the July serial bombings, the increasing rift in Gujarati society and riot victims still awaiting justice. But Mohammed Sharif is inured, his tears cast in stone after he saw his wife and daughters raped and killed during the 2002 carnage.Sharif has been waiting to cry since that Feb 28 six years ago when murderous mobs overran his home in Ahmedabad’s upscale Gulberg Society.
“I have not cried since Feb 28, 2002, the day my wife and two teenage daughters were raped and killed by a mob right in my house. I have tried but could not,” Sharif said simply.
“My wife had offered Rs.45 lakh (Rs.4.5 million) cash to the mob to spare them. But the mob took the money, then raped them and killed them,” Sharif said, sitting in his apartment in the Muslim-dominated Juhapura area here.
It was a day after 59 people were killed while returning from Ayodhya in Gujarat’s Godhra town. And the revenge was swift and brutal killing at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in the weeks that followed.
Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the nearly 70 people mercilessly killed in the massacre in Gulberg Society. Police arrested 39 people in connection with the incident, but the trial is pending while the Supreme Court decides whether it should be held outside the state as demanded by some victims.
“Cases are going on in the sessions court, but we have little hope of getting any justice. All our hopes are now pinned on the Supreme Court where our petition to get the cases transferred outside Gujarat are pending,” Sharif told IANS.
Sharif lived in one of the bungalows in the posh neighbourhood of Gulberg and owned eight shops in the Chamanpura area. His home and all his shops were burnt.
He has worked hard to rebuild his business, but can do nothing to get back the lives lost.
This is not the first time that he has faced communal hatred either.
“My family was earlier ruined financially during riots in 1969 and 1986. But what happened in 2002 was beyond my wildest nightmares,” Sharif said.
“Only my son and I could escape alive in my family. I did not lose hope and with the help of my friends I have been able to put my life on track. But the scar of the tragedy remains.”
Sharif has been unable to return to his Gulberg Society house - where he spent his entire life - since that day in 2002.
“I saw many people, including women and children, being brutally killed in front of my eyes. However, I was the first one to get my house repaired in the society. But no other family was ready to move in and at last I also decided to stay in a minority area for safety,” said Sharif as his 14-year-old son looked on.
Sharif now owns two shops selling electronics goods.
“I have always wanted to move on in life. All my friends are Hindu. Even though I have suffered irreparable loss in the riots, it is only because of my friends that I was able to get together my life and move on,” he said.
But after six years of mourning, he is still waiting to shed a tear.
(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)