Gujarat 2002 contd..

TEHELKA: It is being said the Chharas also committed rapes…

Richard: Now look, one thing is true… bhookhe ghuse to koi na koi to phal khayega, na [when thousands of hungry men go in, they will eat some fruit or the other, no]… Aise bhi, phal ko kuchal ke phek denge [in any case, the fruit is going to be crushed and thrown away]… Look, I’m not telling lies… Mata is before me [gesturing to an image of a deity]… Many Muslim girls were being killed and burnt to death, some men must have helped themselves to the fruit…

TEHELKA:Must have been a couple of rapes…

Richard: Might even have been more… then there were the rest of our brothers, our Hindu brothers, VHP people and RSS people… Anyone could have helped themselves… who wouldn’t, when there’s fruit?… The more you harm them, the less it is… I really hate them… don’t want to spare them… Look, my wife is sitting here but let me say… the fruit was there so it had to be eaten… I ate too… I ate once.

TEHELKA: Just once?

Richard: Just once… then I had to go killing again… [turns to relative Prakash Rathod and talks about the girl he had raped and killed]… the scrap dealer’s daughter Naseemo… Naseemo that juicy plump one… I got on top…

TEHELKA: You got on top of her…

Richard: Yes, properly…

TEHELKA: She didn’t survive, did she?

Richard: No, then I pulped her… Made her into a pickle…

Another victim, 22-year-old Sufiya Bano, was raped and burnt in front of her father. The Civil Hospital, where she was admitted and later died, confirmed the attack on her. When her father, Abdul Majid, a witness who deposed before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, tried to save his daughter, he was brutally seized and held and his beard cut off. Apart from Sufiya Bano, six other members of this family were killed: three boys — Mehmood, Ayub and Hussain; two other girls — Afrin Bano and Shahin Bano; and their mother, Lalibibi. At 22, Sufiya was the eldest of her siblings; seven-year-old Hussain and four-year old Shahin Bano were the youngest.

Police Commissioner PC Pandey came to Naroda Patiya only later that night, at around one. As he surveyed the devastation, he said the place looked worse than even the battlefields of Haldighati. So Bajrangi said.

On the day of the massacre, Richard told TEHELKA, BJP MLA Mayaben Kodnani drove around Naroda, exhorting the rioters to kill as many as they could. Worse yet, Bajrangi revealed that he had been giving VHP general secretary Jaideep Patel a blow-by-blow account of the massacre on his mobile phone. He said he made 11 calls to Patel, providing him the latest death toll each time, until his phone went dead. That evening, Bajrangi says, he also called up then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia, and told him how many he had killed and said that it was now up to Zadaphia to keep him out of trouble with the law. He went to bed that night feeling like Maharana Pratap, he says. He didn’t manage to meet Narendra Modi when the Gujarat CM visited the locality that evening. Modi never made it into the interior of Naroda Patiya, says Bajrangi. “Not even God had the power to enter Naroda Patiya that day.”

THE ROLE OF THE POLICE

‘They shouldn’t be allowed to breed. I say this even today, even if they are women or children’-Babu Bajrangi

Bajrangi was emphatic in his claim that the killings would never have been possible had the police not looked the other way. There was only one entrance to Naroda Patiya, he said, “like a housing society”, and there were some 50 policemen posted there. “They could have ripped us apart,” he said. “But, though they saw everything, they kept their eyes and mouths shut.” Richard said that the police fired at Muslims who were under attack. He also said that late that night, after the rioting had died down, some policemen specially told the Chharas to kill Muslims hiding in a ditch.

‘Many Muslim girls were being killed. Some men must have helped themselves to the fruit’-Suresh Richard

THE COVER-UP
TEHELKA in collaboration with advocate Somnath Vatsa of NGO Action Aid — whose Ahmedabad chapter has been fighting for justice for the victims of the 2002 massacre — carried out a threadbare analysis of the police investigation and the chargesheets filed in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon massacres. We found that far from punishing the guilty, the police were involved in a massive cover-up.

‘Mayaben(a local MLA) patrolled the streets, urging the rioters to kill more Muslims’-Prakash Rathod

 Bodies disposed of to diminish magnitude of crime: Once the massacre was over, the first task before the police was to whittle down the death toll. The larger the number of deaths, the more vociferous the outcry from civil society. As Bajrangi details, the police had the bodies from Naroda Patiya rounded up and dumped at various places across the city. According to Bajrangi, over 200 people had died that day; late that night, then Ahmedabad Police Comissioner PC Pandey came to Naroda and ordered the police to have the bodies removed.

“They were piled up in trucks, it took so many vehicles, some were even stuffed into jeeps.” When the bodies were collected the second time and brought to the Civil Hospital for the post-mortem, they were recorded as being from the area where they were found. In this manner, the police managed to keep the death count down to 105, 97 from Naroda Patiya and eight from Naroda Gaon. The post-mortem records show that even these 105 bodies from Naroda were brought to the hospital piecemeal, with the last few bodies being brought in a full four days after the massacre.

 No autopsies on 41 bodies:With one piece of evidence destroyed, the police moved on to the next stage. The bodies — charred, hacked at, bearing shot wounds, stab marks and marks of rape — could have been strong evidence of a brutal massacre and of the administration’s complicity. They might have served as a potent indication of the fact that this was no spontaneous act of rioting but a systematic pogrom. But the police did not carry out post-mortems on as many as 41 bodies recovered from Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. No explanation has been offered for this act of grave negligence and omission.

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