Back in Time is ED’s newspaper-like column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.
February 28, 2002: In a shocking turn of events, one that is bound to shake the foundations of the State and Central government to its core, over a hundred men, women, and children, mostly Muslims are feared to have been killed in two separate incidents across the city of Ahmedabad.
These incidents follow the massacre of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya at Godhra yesterday by miscreants.
The incidents, spread across almost all parts of Ahmedabad was at its most ferocious in the residential areas of Naroda Patiya and Gulbarg Society where widespread violence, loss of property, gang-rapes and arson have been reported.
Among those feared dead is Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, a resident of Gulbarg Society. Unverified reports also suggest that MP Jafri’s house was bombed and razed to the ground by a violent mob.
Two days of violence has already seen the death of over a hundred men, women, and children as well as the homelessness of thousands. These incidences of violence have been frequent despite curfew being imposed and comes in light of the bandh imposed by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad yesterday.
“We are using all our resources to restore law and order in all areas of the city and thanks to our efforts, violence has ceased across most parts of Ahmedabad,” the District Superintendent of Police said. However, when asked about the slow response of his forces or unconfirmed reports of the police aiding rioters, the DSP declined to comment.
Post-Scriptum: Gujarat would never be the same again after the 2002 riots. By the time the violence died down, over a thousand people were dead, many more wounded and lakhs rendered homeless.
Naroda Patiya and Gulbarg would not remain the only massacres to shock us during those dark days in 2002. Best Bakery would follow and, so would Bilkis Bano. Justice would come eventually, after years of struggle. In token, if not in totem. Maya Kodnani, former State Minister and Babu Bajrangi of Bajrang Dal were convicted along with 30 others for Naroda Patiya, as well as 11 for the Gulbarg Society massacre.
As for Godhra, 31 people were charged and found guilty of conspiring to commit the said crime, even though the actual cause for the fire remains unanswered.
However, questions remain. Namely, what was the extent of the State’s culpability? Did the State actively or passively abet the actions of the rioters and their violence? Why was their such a delay in bringing in the army?
These are questions which, unfortunately, shall remain unanswered. 16 years after, the ghosts of Godhra, Naroda Patiya, and Gulbarg Society still haunt Gujarat and India.
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