May 24, 2019
Latest News

17 years on, Gujarat massacre of Muslims still polarizes Indian politics

By Noemi Jabois

Ahmadabad, India, Apr 26 (efe-epa).- Shakeela Bano’s family was charred to death in front of her eyes by a blood-thirsty mob of Hindus during the infamous anti-Muslim 2002 Gujarat riots in the western state of India then governed by Narendra Modi, the country’s current Prime Minister.

Modi, a favorite to win second term in office in staggered Indian polls ending May 19, was the chief minister of Gujarat when the orgy of religious violence gripped the state in which over 1,000, mostly Muslims, were slaughtered.

The widespread rape and murder followed the death of 59 Hindu pilgrims on a train that was set on fire allegedly by a group of Muslims.

During his 13 years of governance, Modi was widely credited for transforming Gujarat into an economic hub but the stigma of one of the worst religious riots in independent India earned the right-wing leader a tag of divisive politician.

Modi has largely been accused of not doing enough to stop the riots and save innocent lives. He has denied the allegations and has also been cleared by courts.

But many Muslims, like Bano, in Gujarat's Ahmedabad city and the surrounding towns and villages, feel otherwise.

The 36-year-old woman vividly remembers how the day after the train was burnt, markets in her area were closed.

There was a large presence of police personnel and groups of angry people emerging from lanes began gathering in Naroda Patiya that had a significant Muslim presence, Bano told EFE.

Amid a palpable sense of fear, her family decided to move to the nearby Gangotri neighborhood.

They asked for help from a man named Bhavani, she said, adding the Hindu acquaintance offered to safeguard the jewelry Bano's mother had been able to take before leaving their home.

However, as soon as they entered the colony, Bhavani signaled to a mod towards them.

“They poured petrol and burnt alive my mother, my brother, my sister-in-law and four kids. They cut my brothers head with a sword. There was a two-month boy as well. They said when you wont live, what will we do with your kid. The baby was also burnt alive," Bano recalled the horror.

"I could see it with my own eyes but could not save them," she said, wiping her tears with one end of her black hijab, a veil worn by some Muslim women

Running away from the mob, Bano said, she hid herself inside a roadside restaurant.

As she peeked out she saw several girls being raped, many others killed and their bodies thrown into a well.

The police, instead of helping the victims, hit and threatened them, she said.

That day at least hundred people were killed in the area in what came to be known as the Naroda Patiya massacre.

But Bano was lucky to find a refuge and was finally taken into a vehicle to one of the several camps for Muslims, set up in Ahmadabad following the days of violence.

She said she testified in a court and identified the alleged killers despite receiving death threats and was even offered money for staying silent.

Without anything to lose, she gave the names of those who killed her family members to the court.

The convicted 32 people and acquitted 29 accused due to insufficient evidence in 2012. But most of convicts have been let out on bail, including Maya Kodnani – former minister for women and child development of Gujarat.

"Narendra Modi has risen because he stands tall on the pile of our dead bodies. If he wanted, he could have stopped the riots and so many people would not have died," Bano said.

The Gujarat riots had made Modi once an international outcast. The United States had denied him a visa and the United Kingdom cut all ties with the politician. That changed months before Modi became prime minister in 2014.

During the last five years of rule as the head of the government led by the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, there has been a series of attacks against Muslims mere on allegation of possessing or eating beef or even transporting cattle.

Cow is considered sacred in the Hindu religion and extremist groups associated with the BJP bay for blood of anyone who slaughters the bovine.

Modi’s critics say the prime minister has never strongly condemned the violence in the name of cow protection.

However, no resentment of Muslims against Modi and his party can be compared to what happened in Gujarat 17 years ago.

Auto rickshaw driver Salim Mohammed Hussain Sheikh recalls who barely two hours after the train with Hindus was set on fire, how members of the RSS – a radical Hindu group and BJP’s ideologue – thronged the streets in Ahmedabad and began harassing the men with beards.

Next morning, Sheikh recalled, he was in a neighborhood mosque when a mob of 1,000 to 1,500 people with arms led by then Minister Kodnani ran the pogrom.

"A BJP minister, Maya Kodnani, came and spoke to the police stationed there. I was quite far from there but I saw she was scolding the police personnel,” Sheikh told EFE.

There was bloodshed and even “the police was also firing along with the mob,” said the man who lost his niece and children in the massacre.

Nazir Khan Pathan, a school teacher, recalled how men associated with the RSS and its affiliate Bajrang Dal, wearing their trademark shorts and saffron scarves on their head, came around and started riots.

Some, he told EFE, were municipal council members and members of the legislative assembly who shouted to the mob, "go ahead, we are with you."

"The whole series of events was preplanned, and Modi had the biggest role in it," he alleged.

njd-av-ia/sk/ssk

News history
UK PM Theresa May to stand down on June 7

London, May 24 (efe-epa).- The United Kingdom's prime minister Theresa May said Friday she will stand down on June 7.

Senior cleric among three killed in Kabul mosque explosion

Kabul, May 24 (efe-epa).- A bomb blast inside a mosque in the Afghan capital on Friday killed three people, including a prominent religious scholar who was...

Spanish parliament suspends jailed Catalan politicians from role as MPs

Madrid, May 24 (efe-epa).- Spain's parliament on Friday suspended four Catalan politicians currently on trial at the Supreme Court for their alleged...

Defeated presidential candidate in Indonesia to challenge poll result

Jakarta, May 24 (efe-epa).- The defeated presidential candidate in the April elections in Indonesia was on Friday set to challenge the poll result before...

Indian forces impose curfew after killing al-Qaeda commander in Kashmir

Srinagar, India, May 24 (efe-epa).- Authorities on Friday imposed a curfew in parts of India-administered Kashmir, a day after security forces said they had...

Filipino natives forced out of their ancestral lands by Chinese capital

By Sara Gómez Armas

Trump to visit Japan to coordinate action on North Korea

Tokyo, May 24 (efe-epa).- The United States president will begin his visit to Japan on May 25 to coordinate action on North Korea and strengthen ties with...

Thailand opens new parliament with opposition leader suspended

Bangkok, May 24 (efe-epa).- Thailand's Parliament will open its first session in five years on Friday with one of the leading opposition figures suspended...

Landslide victory for Indian PM Narendra Modi confirmed

New Delhi, May 24 (efe-epa).- India's prime minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday was confirmed as the winner of general elections...

US hospital ship to assist 11 countries in response to Venezuelan crisis

Miami, USA, May 23 (efe-epa).- A United States Navy hospital ship will provide medical assistance to 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries in response...

Trump pledges another $16 bn for farmers hurt by Chinese tariffs

Washington, May 23 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Thursday approved a second aid package for US farmers, this one for $16 billion, with the aim of...

US charges Julian Assange with espionage

Washington, May 23 (efe-epa).- The US Department of Justice announced Thursday a new indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that includes an...

China, Brazil agree to boost trade, cooperation

Beijing, May 23 (efe-epa).- The vice presidents of China and Brazil presided here Thursday over the fifth gathering of the Sino-Brazilian High-Level...

Pelosi stays firm vs. Trump on cover-up claim

By Alex Segura Lozano

Tornadoes kill at least 3 in Missouri

Washington, May 23 (efe-epa).- At least three people were killed by tornadoes in the Midwestern US state of Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday.

What will happen to Cuba's anti-imperialist grandstand at US Embassy?

By Lorena Canto

India decides to ride Modi wave for another 5 years

By Shubhomoy Chatterjee

Costa Rican president rejects military option in Venezuela, Nicaragua

Douglas Marin

In victory speech, Modi dedicates landmark win to people of India

New Delhi, May 23 (efe-epa).- The Indian prime minister on Thursday dedicated his landmark electoral victory to the people of India whom he said had reposed...

Marawi still healing amid the rubble two years after militant siege

By Sara Gómez Armas

PSG president placed under investigation for alleged corruption

Paris, May 23 (efe-epa).- The president of French soccer champions Paris Saint-Germain, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is under investigation on suspicion of...

India’s Modi secures resounding poll victory riding high on Hindutva

By Sarwar Kashani,

Carlos Ghosn attends first preliminary hearing in Tokyo ahead of trial

Tokyo, May 23 (efe-epa).- The former head of Nissan and Renault on Thursday attended the first preliminary hearing ahead of his trial, as his defense team...

Polling begins for European elections in the UK

London, May 23 (efe-epa).- Polling stations across the United Kingdom were open on Thursday for European parliamentary elections, as the political deadlock...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.