Debating India

GUJARAT

Firm voices

Saturday 1 January 2005

Naroda Patiya, Ahmedabad

Dead: More than 83.

Status of case: Appeal for retrial outside Gujarat pending in the Supreme Court; till then, Sessions court case is suspended.

Shafibhai Mansuri: "Although Zahira Sheikh had so much support from the police, the government and organisations, she collapsed. Can you imagine what could happen to ordinary witnesses if there is any pressure on them during the trial? It could happen to anyone. I have a feeling that Zahira is not speaking in her own words. She is being told by someone else what to say. In our case, there has been no pressure on witnesses so far. We have security, but not enough. Despite having security, one widow, Bibibanu (who is an eyewitness) was recently burned by a person who was threatening her. She is still in hospital. He burned her and ran off. What protection did she have?"

Afroz Banu Ansari: "We will say the truth about what we saw. We will not get scared, even if there are threats. What is left of our lives? I lost four people from my family. How can I keep quiet? What more can I lose? Anyway, there is not much to live for. We have police protection. We are not the kind to be silenced by threats or money. We are not greedy, even though our homes were burned to the ground."

Gulbarg Society, Chamanpura, Ahmedabad

Dead: 38 official, more than 50 unofficial.

Status of case: Appeal for retrial outside Gujarat pending in the Supreme Court; till then, Sessions Court case is suspended.

Rupaben Dhara: "I don’t think that the Best Bakery trial outcome will affect our case. All the people from our area will not go after money. We want justice for our dear departed. We will not be bought. We want justice in the Supreme Court. We will not get it in Gujarat. Even Mrs. Jafri, whose husband former Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, was killed in the tragedy, is an eyewitness and she will testify. It is very sad that Zahira did all this. We were all so happy when her case was transferred to Mumbai, we thought that we will also get justice. She has disappointed us. It is sad what she did to Teesta. Now people may start thinking twice before supporting Gujarat’s riot victims. But I have full faith that Teesta will continue to support us."

Limbdi Phalia, Halol, Panchmahal

Dead: Four

Status: Trial under way in the Session Court, Godhra.

Samir Bazarwala: "We are so strong that even though they have put a false case on my uncle, we did not waiver. They know that we are not scared. We are ready tell the truth. We are not the kind to negotiate, even if someone offers us Rs.1 crore. Four people close to me died and the 18 accused have to be punished. Fifteen of them are out on bail. They are all Bajrang Dal and BJP activists."

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