A civil society fact-finding team, which visited Vadavali village of North Gujarat where communal clashes on March 25 led to the death of one person, has claimed that it was “organized” riot with the aim of “dividing” Hindus and Muslims, blaming BJP for “strategically using violence through its various wings to create tension” with an eye on state assembly polls, due in December.
The fact-finding team consisted of Samshad Khan Pathan of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, Govind Parmar of the Human Rights Law Network, Hozefa Ujjain of Janvikas, Dashratbhai Thakor of Action Aid, Usmanbhai Sheikh of Aman Biradri, Makrani Mir Khan of Aantarik Vistapit Committee, among others.
Meanwhile, according to sabrangindia.in, a top site championing human rights issues, Muslims have started fleeing the village following allegations that the cops are targeting the minority community and reports of continued attacks on Muslims.
The team's preliminary report finds it strange that the incident should happen in a village which had decided that it would be part of Narendra Modi's samras model, floated by him soon after he became chief minister in 2001 for unanimously electing sarpanches.
The incident took place immediately after a decision on sarpanch, in which for “2.5 years there would be a Patel sarpanch and for 2.5 years there would be a Muslim Sarpanch”, the report says. “Rashidaben Sultanmiyaan was elected immediately, after which the incident of violence broke out.”
Vadavali is situated in Patan district of North Guajrat. Out of the 4 MLAs from this district, 3 belong to BJP and 1 to Congress. It comprises of nearly 350 Muslim, 700 Patel, 60 Darbar, 150 Thakore, 150 Dalit, 50 Rawal, 50 Prajapati, 30 Rabari, 40 Devi pujak families.
Interestingly, the report states, it samras village even in 2002, and despite the “Gujarat genocide” which began February 28, 2002, the village was remained unaffected. “In fact, its population rescued some injured people during the 2002 riots and became a bright example of communal harmony.”
Pointing out that a small incident of a scuffle between two boys – a Muslim and a Hindu belonging to the Thakore community – triggered the violence, the report states, the two boys, appearing in Class 10 board at at the examination centre in the village school, fought. The Muslim boy was from Takodi village and the Thakore boy from Sunsar village.
On the very same day, the report says, a gram sabha was organised, where all the leaders of various communities came together at the Shiv Temple, and “with unanimous consensus Rashidaben Sultanbhai Kuresh was declared sarpanch (village head).”
However, it adds, “Just as the gramsabha was on, a huge mob of “nearly 7-5 thousand people who belonged to the Thakore community from Dharipur, Rampur, Merwada villages approached Vadavali. The mob attacked the villagers, nearly 142 house of the Muslim community were damaged, 100 houses were burned down, 42 houses were damaged and looted. Ibrahim Lal Khan Belim was killed during the violence and nearly 15-20 people were injured.”
Identifying those leading attacks included a member of Shiv Sena, a school teacher, a BJP lawyer, and two SRP jawans from the Thakore community, the report claims, it is one of the SRP jawan's firing from a private gun which “hit Rashidaben’s husband on his thigh.”