Godhra riots: Love lost and love regained

The Godhra carnage snatched away their loved ones but ironically it also gave this couple a reason to live and look forward to life yet again.

A decade ago, on the same day, 49-year-old Bharat Panchal had lost his wife in the carnage, which left 59 people dead and triggering one of the worst communal riots in the country. But a decade later he has bigger responsibilities and a bigger family to take care of.

Interestingly, Panchal has not only his own children to raise but he now has the responsibility of the children of  Bela, now his wife who had lost her husband in the riots that followed the Godhra carnage.

Bela had lost her husband, Ashwin and mother-in-law in the riots in the Ramol area of Ahmedabad.  She has a daughter and Panchal has a son and a daughter Khushboo.

“Both of us have had our share of losses in the Godhra and post Godhra riots, but now we have responsibilities and families under one roof,’’ said Panchal. He and  Bela got married in 2008 and they got their daughters Khushboo and Shefali married a year later.

“We have got both her daughter Khushboo and my daughter Shefali married, in Ahmedabad only,’’ said Panchal. He said that the children of both families had played a vital role in bringing the  couple together.

For the couple, the year 2002 brought along with it lot of ups and down, which changed the course of their lives forever. Following the incident, Bharat and Bela would often meet on Nizamuddin Express while heading to Delhi for hearings of Gujarat riot cases at the Supreme Court.

It was during this time when love blossomed between the two. “It was not easy for both of us. Initially, I was hesitant to propose marriage to her as we both had grown-up children. Our children played Cupid and made our marriage possible,” he said.

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