Muslims sceptical of Modi 'Sadbhavna'

Riot victim Rupa Modi breaks down in her house at Gulberg Society while Modi was on a fast. PHOTO-K Bhadwad

As the brothers,  along with a small group of riot victims, walked into a small mosque inside—the only remnant inside the society—there were prayers for the thousands of people killed, including 69 from the Gulberg Society, in the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Pathan brothers had lost 11 members of their family, including their mother. The reverberations of the “Sadbhavna” mission event, which had more of political tones, did fail to touch this group, which was silently reciting the Holy Quran.

The chief minister might have spoken about compassion and inclusive growth, but for the survivors of the Gujarat riots, the words indeed seem quiet shallow.

“We were witnesses to the worst carnage ever. We have seen former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri calling every person in the government, including Modi, for help. But none came to our rescue. They are the killers of our family members. What compassion is he talking about,” fumes Feroz Khan.

Mother waits in vain

In another corner of the city, Rupa Modi is still hopeful that one day her son Azhar, who was nine years old in 2002, would return to her.

Azhar went missing when the Gulberg Society was attacked.
Official records certified him dead after he continued to be a “missing person” even nine years after the tragedy.

“How would Modi understand the pain of a mother. Even today, I cannot accept the fact that he is no more. He is talking about ‘Sadbhavna’; when did he, his ministers and officials called us up to express sympathies?’’ asks Rupa as she breaks down.

Shakeela Banu carries on with her daily chores in a small one-room house constructed by a relief committee in the Naroda Patiya area. She lost eight members of her family, her house was destroyed and so her life. As many as 100 people were killed at Naroda patiya.

“When we tried to take out a rally to protest against Modi’s fast, a heavy posse of policemen rushed into our society to stop us. I wish Modi and his policemen could have shown the same alertness when rioters attacked us, butchering our loved ones. If they would have wanted, many lives would have been saved. But they acted as mute spectators. How can we forgive him,’’ asks Shakeela.

And, as Imtiaz and his brother finished the prayers,  this is the only question that weighs on their mind: “Will justice be delivered in this state? It is not the time for compassion, but for justice. When we see almost 90 per cent of those arrested in Gulberg riots  case out on bail, we start wondering what compassion are we  talking about.’’ While the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi might have tried to showcase  minorities at his event, the reality is that thousands who  suffered in Gujarat still believe that if there is something missing in Modi’s initiative, it’s the healing touch.

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