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Conspirators & Rioters

Ahmedabad: Carnage Capital

ASHISH KHETAN

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

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.

Nov 3, 2007

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