Gujarat riot and saffron, hindutva and brahmin terrorism role

30 Sep

First-hand accounts from the men who plotted and executed the genocide in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Sabarkantha. Mayhem was meticulously planned and carried out by VHP-Bajrang Dal cadres across Muslim localities.

Overview

NARENDRA MODI visited Godhra on the day of the burning of coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express. His outburst provided the first sign to Sangh workers that the time to corner the Muslims had come

THAT VERY NIGHT, top BJP and Sangh leaders met at Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Godhra, and gave the green signal for an all-out assault on Muslims across the state

A STRATEGY was devised on how to shield the attackers from the law after the riots. Prominent lawyers were briefed and senior police officers taken into confidence. The cadres were told Modi was squarely behind them

THE MOBILISATION of the under castes, something the Sangh had been engaged in for years, dovetailed into the deep penetration Hindutva already had among Gujarat’s higher castes. Godhra provided the perfect spark to fuse them together

FROM THE very outset, the police played partisan, often joining the mobs. Officers who tried to do their duty found their hands tied. The complicity was led by then Ahmedabad Commissioner PC Pandey, who ensured compliance by a swathe of junior officers

WEAPONS, FROM BOMBS to guns to trishuls, were either manufactured and distributed by Sangh workers themselves, or smuggled through Sangh channels from all over India. The Bajrang Dal and the VHP already had a large cache of firearms and daggers

BJP AND SANGH LEADERS led the bloodthirsty mobs through Ahmedabad’s bylanes, Sabarkantha’s villages, Vadodara’s localities. The police stood guard to the mayhem

BJP MLA MAYABEN KODNANI drove around Ahmedabad’s Naroda locality all day, directing the mobs. VHP leaders Atul Vaid and Bharat Teli did the same at the Gulbarg Housing Society. None of them ever went to jail

FIRE WAS THE MOST FAVOURED weapon in the rioters’ hands. That cremation is considered un-Islamic fuelled their frenzy to burn. Petrol and kerosene were lavishly used, as were the victims’ own gas cylinders

BABU BAJRANGI reveals he collected 23 revolvers from Hindus in Naroda Patiya. He called VHP general secretary Jaideep Patel 11 times and informed Gordhan Zadaphia, the then minister of state for home, about the death toll

GOVERNMENT COUNSEL before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Arvind Pandya, himself worships Modi and describes Justice Shah as “our man”. Nanavati’s own report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots is gathering dust till today.

A Cold Eclipse

THERE WAS no spontaneity to what happened in Gujarat post- Godhra. This was no uncontrived, unplanned, unprompted communal violence. This was a pogrom. This was genocide.

In a planned, coldly strategic manner, Muslim neighbourhoods across both urban and rural Gujarat were targeted. Large sections of Hindus were united under a single objective: to kill Muslims, wherever and by whatever means, preferably by first stabbing and mutilating them, and then by setting on fire what remained, whether dead or alive. During the course of the TEHELKA sting, many accused said they preferred burning Muslims alive over other forms of death since cremation is considered unacceptable in Islam.

For three days after the February 27 fire on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, Gujarat’s BJP government receded from public view and let the armed mercenaries of Hindu organisations take over. For three days, absolute anarchy reigned. Execution squads were formed, composed of the dedicated cadre of Hindu organisations — the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bajrang Dal, the Kisan Sangh, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Masjids and dargahs were destroyed across the state. Seventy-three Muslim religious places were torched in Ahmedabad alone, 55 in Sabarkantha, 22 in Vadodara.

The architects of Gujarat’s greatest shame were of two sorts. There were the coolheaded strategists, the conspirators, who plotted the carnage from behind the scenes. And there were the foot soldiers, the members of the saffron army, drugged on the vicious agenda of so-called Hindutva, who went out and looted, raped and killed. On occasion, the planners were also sometimes emboldened to go out and participate in the massacres.


Ahmedabad: Carnage Capital

ASHISH KHETAN

 

In Naroda, Gulbarg, Kalupur and Dariyapur, murderous mobs armed to the teeth obeyed the Sangh Parivar’s every word

Muslims who had begged police to protect them the day before huddle in the wreckage of their burned out homes in Ahmedabad
Photo: Ami Vitale

THE MOST horrifying massacre of the Gujarat riots was the one at Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya localities in Ahmedabad. A local Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi, was one of the main conspirators. He started planning the massacre soon after the news of the Sabarmati incident broke. Starting in the evening of February 27, firearms and inflammable material were collected; Bajrangi also formed a select team, drawn from the cadre of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. Members of the Chhara community, a denotified criminal tribe, were also roped in. TEHELKA spoke to two of them, Suresh Richard and Prakash Rathod. Both believed, and were made to believe, that by killing Muslims they were doing a great service to Hinduism.

On February 28, 2002, Bajrangi marshalled a murderous mob through the narrow bylanes of Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. Egging the mob on was also local BJP MLA Mayaben Kodnani, who is also a doctor. Both Richard and Rathod have been recorded on TEHELKA’s spycam saying that Kodnani drove around Naroda all through the day, urging the mob to hunt Muslims down and kill them. Kodnani’s trusted lieutenant, BJP member Bipin Panchal, was also present with his own small band of followers, armed to the teeth. All through the massacre, Bajrangi and VHP state general secretary Jaideep Patel were on the phone with each other. Bajrangi did not reveal whether Patel was also involved in the planning. However, he did say that the death toll was being communicated to Patel at regular intervals. Several survivors from Naroda Gaon have identified Patel as the leader of the Naroda mob.

At the end of the day the total “score” — as Bajrangi chose to term estimates of the number of Muslims killed — in Naroda was well over at least 200. This figure has not been acknowledged by the state government; officially, 105 people were killed at Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. Naroda, however, was far from the only Ahmedabad locality to be turned into a mass incinerator. A few kilometres away, VHP leaders were leading a frenzied mob at Meghaninagar. The target was a housing society called Gulbarg, a building inhabited by Muslims.

TEHELKA stung three participants in the carnage — Mangilal Jain, Prahlad Raju and Madan Chawal — all three local petty traders and all three with cases against them for their part in the riots. They said they and other members of the mob had been led by VHP leaders Atul Vaid and Bharat Teli, both of whom were named as accused in the FIR but were subsequently cleared of all charges when the police filed the chargesheet. Chawal gave a graphic description of how he and his accomplices first hacked former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri apart limb from limb, and then made a heap of his body parts, which they set on fire.

The official death toll of the Gulbarg massacre stood at 39, but the accused told TEHELKA that the actual number of those killed was much higher. Apart from the housing society’s residents, the dead also included Muslims who lived in nearby slums who had taken shelter in the building. TEHELKA also spoke to VHP leaders Rajendra Vyas and Ramesh Dave, who planned attacks on Muslims in Kalupur and Dariyapur, among Ahmedabad’s most communally sensitive areas. Ahmedabad city VHP president Rajendra Vyas, who was also in charge of the ill-fated Sabarmati Express, said that on the day of the fire on the train that killed 59 karsevaks, he had told the VHP cadre that “the Muslims had played a one-day match and given us a target of 60 runs. We shall now have to play a test match and we won’t stop until we score 600.”

Vyas, who lives in Kalupur, was recorded on the TEHELKA camera stating that he himself had shot dead five Muslims and had burned down nine Muslim houses. Ramesh Dave was the VHP’s point man in Dariyapur. He said he and his fellow planners had targeted and killed Muslims who had been in their sights for over 20 years — “chun-chun ke maara is baar (we specifically hunted them down)”. Dave also claimed that along with a friend, he had arranged for about 10 small firearms.

Vadodara: Charred City

THOUGH NOTHING could be compared to the violence unleashed in Ahmedabad, Muslims in Vadodara — the second largest city in Gujarat — were also assaulted in a phased manner. The first round, which started on February 27 itself, lasted until March 2, with the worst incident taking place on March 1, when 14 persons were burnt alive at the Best Bakery in Hanuman Tekri. Thereafter there was violence between March 15-20 and, following this, between April 25-May 2, with some incidents taking place in the intervening period, especially on March 25.

Almost every major Muslim locality of the city was attacked. Kisanwadi, Sama, Ashabiwi Chawl, Madhavpur II, Makkarpura, Audhootnagar, Raghovpura, Noor Park, Karelibagh, Gotri village, Hajimiyan ka Sara, Hanuman Tekri, Roshannagar, Panigate, Taiwada and Macchipith were among the areas where Hindu mobs went on a rampage. Hundreds of Muslim homes and businesses were looted and torched. In Sama, a relatively new part of Vadodara with a predominantly Hindu population, a mob of around 20 people attacked the residence of Prof JS Bandukwala, a professor of physics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) and a respected figure in Vadodara, on the morning of February 28. The mob left after Prof Bandukwala and his daughter managed to take shelter in their Hindu neighbour’s house.

However, on the following day, March 1, a larger mob, armed with gas cylinders among other weaponry, launched a second assault and succeeded in torching Bandukwala’s house. The homes of two other prominent Muslim bureaucrats in the area were burned down. TEHELKA stung a rioter, Dhimant Bhatt, who was in the mob that torched these three homes. Bhatt is an accountant by profession — he is the chief accountant and auditor of MSU — but his real vocation is to inflict damage on Muslims.

Besides being a university employee, he also works as a personal assistant to the current Vadodara BJP MP Jayaben Thakkar. Bhatt revealed that on the night of the Sabarmati Express incident, a meeting was convened of Vadodara’s top BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP functionaries. Bhatt, who is also an RSS member, was present at the meeting, which is where, he says, a strategy of attacking Muslims was outlined. A plan for providing legal assistance to Hindus who may face legal action after the riots was also chalked out at the same meeting.

TEHELKA met another Vadodara BJP leader, Deepak Shah, who not only corroborated what Bhatt told us but also gave the name of the farmhouse where the meeting took place — Narmada Farmhouse. Shah, who is also a member of the Syndicate of the MSU, also corroborated what Babu Bajrangi had boasted of in Ahmedabad — that saffron organizations used lower-caste Hindus for carrying out anti-Muslim attacks.



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