Thursday, April 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Fear hounds people of Godhra
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Godhra, April 10
Fortytwo days after the Godhra train massacre in which 58 “Ram sevaks” were burnt alive, an uneasy calm prevails in this town under Panchmahal district, located over 150 km from Ahmedabad, with fear and suspicion still hounding the people.

As this correspondent made his way to the Godhra railway station through a maze of alleys located in a minority-dominated area, an eerie silence pervaded with very little movement of people.

Although a large number of business establishments near the district headquarters and district sessions courts started functioning, yet there was hardly any movement near the Godhra railway station, where coach No. S-6 of the Sabarmati Express stands testimony to the dastardly massacre of 58 “Ram sevaks” on February 27.

People in threes and fours are seen moving talking in hush-hush voices and a few cops are standing guard in almost all narrow streets.

Although the local administration and police officials claim that the situation is absolutely normal, this correspondent, during his three-hour presence in the Godhra railway station, which is a main junction connecting Dohad, Vadodara, Ratlam and Ujjain, saw only a goods train passing through the junction and not even a single passenger train passing by.

In the main business area, shopkeepers seemed to be still reluctant to open their establishments with many shops remaining closed. And those who dared to do so closed their shutters before sunset.

During an interaction with a large number of people belonging to the two communities, it was evident that although people craved for peace, yet there was a sharp communal divide in their utterings.

The fear and suspicion is so much that even 42 days after the massacre people are spending sleepless nights and men folk from both majority and minority communities have formed groups to maintain night vigil to thwart any attack.

Even the district administration seems to be fearing a reprisal as it is still continuing with night curfew to avoid any untoward incident.

“People can’t easily forget the Godhra massacre. It has had an indelible impact on their psyche and the subsequent communal violence has only furthered the communal divide,” Mr N.K. Mehta, a government pleader in the Panchmahal District Courts, told The Tribune.

Another resident Ranjan Thakor says the fear and communal divide is so much that even friends belonging to the two communities have stopped talking to one another. It would take some more time for the people to start leading normal lives once again, he said and blamed political parties for the situation.

The deep-rooted communal divide was also evident in the manner in which people dubbed Hindu and Muslim colonies as Hindustan and Pakistan respectively, he added.

Salim Qureshi, who stays near the railway station, while condemning the February 27 incident, blamed the administration and the people belonging to the majority community for looking at everyone from the minority community with suspicion. Because of the madness of a few people the entire community should not be blamed. Unfortunately, this was happening in Godhra which did not see any communal violence in 1992 despite the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, he said.Back


Gujarat gets more security
Government puts toll at 771
Tribune News Service and UNI

New Delhi, April 10
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has deployed 11 companies in Gujarat to provide security in the riot-hit areas.

These include eight companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF), a CRPF press note said here today.

While one RAF company each has been deployed in Godhra and Vadodra districts, 4 RAF and 2 CRPF companies have been deployed in Ahmedabad. Besides, two RAF companies have been deployed in Surat district and one CRPF company has been deployed in the Anand township.

Ahmedabad: A noted doctor was stabbed and a house in the Vatva locality burnt down even as riot-fatigued Gujarat limped back to normalcy, 42 days after the February 27 incidents.

Day curfew was lifted from most places in the state.

Dr Amit Mehta was stabbed by an unidentified assailant, impersonating as a patient, on Tuesday evening in his clinic in the hyper-sensitive Juhapura locality.

Dr Mehta was later hospitalised with two stab wounds.

In another incident, a house was burnt in the Vatva locality. However, the police said the fire was caused due to short-circuit.

Barring these two incidents, no reports of any untoward incident were received from other parts of the state.

With the situation improving fast, curfew was relaxed on Wednesday for all people from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Gomtipur area of the walled city here while night curfew, as a precautionary measure, will continue in the Khadia, Kalupur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Gaekwad Haveli, Karanj, Vejalpur and Danilimda police station areas, apart from sensitive areas.

The Gujarat Secondary Education Board (GSEB), which on Tuesday announced a fresh schedule to hold the deferred annual examinations of classes X and XII in the riot-affected areas, said last night that more than 30 SSC and 24 HSC exam centres in Ahmedabad had been shifted to comparatively safer areas.

Gandhinagar: Altogether, 771 persons have died in Gujarat since February 27 in the Godhra carnage and the subsequent communal riots, the state government said on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters here, Agriculture Minister and government spokesman Purushottam Rupala said while 59 persons died at Godhra, 712 persons died in the riots triggered off by the incident.

Also, nearly 2,200 people had been injured.

More than 100,000 persons, displaced due to the riots, were staying in nearly 110 relief camps in the state, Mr Rupala said.Back

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