Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gujarat riot victims: Teesta held our hand when even relatives refused

Riot victims on February 28 at Prashant
By Our Representative
About 40 victim-survivors from some of the most-affected colonies of Ahmedabad and other towns during the 2002 Gujarat riots – Naroda Patiya, Citizen Nagar, Ekta Nagar, Faizal Park, Visnagar and Gulberg Society – on Saturday raised a strong voice supporting well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, saying the Gujarat government is harassing her because she stood by them during their most critical times, and ensured 126 convictions.
Rupa Modi and Sairaben of Gulberg Society said, referring to the manner in which the riot accused are being set free, and police officials involved for fake encounters are getting bail, this stands in sharp contrast to the way the state government is trying to implicate her in misappropriation of funds meant for Gujarat riot victims.
The victims, who had gathered at the Prashant Centre for Human Rights and Peace in Ahmedabad, made the 13th anniversary of Gujarat riots as the occasion to relate their plight for all these years. Heenaben of Naroda Patiya said, “Only because of Teesta Setalvad that we have been able to get some justice, though so far we have only reached half-way.”
Naimbhai of Naroda Patiya said, “Till the 2002 riots, we had never experienced any communal flareup. It was terrible. My wife was raped and burnt alive. I reached hospital without any clothes.” He added, “Teesta Setalvad helped us at a time when no relative came to help us. Now, she is being sought to be implicated, and the culprits are being set free.”
Ahmedabad riot victims stage protest in Ahmedabad
Yusuf Khan Pathan from Visnagar said he remembers how at the Dipda Darwaja 11 persons were burnt alive. “We did not even get bodies of those who were dead”, he said, adding, “At a time when none came in to support us, Teesta Setalvad alone helped us… Right now, those who are accused are roaming around freely. Muslims should unite. We must go up to the Supreme Court to get justice.”  
Usmanbhai of Faisal Park said, as many as eight members of his family – including his three daughters and three sons – were burnt alive during the 2002 riots. “Those who have betrayed Teesta Setalvad should know, we do not want money, but justice. Efforts to buy us over will not succeed. She is even today with us…”
In a statement, Father Cedric Prakash, who heads Prashant, said, “Exactly thirteen years ago, on February 28th 2002, India witnessed one of the bloodiest chapters of history when hundreds of Muslims: men, women and children were brutally massacred, raped, looted, dispossessed in towns and villages in various parts of Gujarat; all this was in the wake of the burning of the S-6 bogey of the Sabarmati Express near Godhra the previous day February 27, 2002.”
“Since then”, he said, “Several victim-survivors with support from others, have relentlessly fought for justice and with a hope that one day they will be give n their rightful place in society. Some measure of justice has definitely been delivered; however, all are aware that the main culprits particularly, those who orchestrated these dastardly acts, have not yet been convicted or even if they have been, they are now out on bail.”

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