Gujarat genocide: “This is where my children lived”, Qasim refused to leave Gulberg Society

Qasimbhai Allahnur Mansuri and his remaining family is the only tenants in Gulberg society for the past 19 years. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

When Qasimbhai Allahnur Mansuri stood under the only street light opposite former MP Ehsan Jafri’s apartment, a grief-stricken silence engulfed the abandoned buildings. Looking at the charred walls weathered through time, tears broke from the old man’s eyes.

“This is where my children lived. I will not leave,” lamented Mansuri, the only tenant in Gulberg Housing Society in the past 19 years. All others refused to return to the Society after the day the violent Hind mobs entered Gulberg and killed at least 69 people.

This week marks the 19th anniversary of Muslim genocide in Gujarat.

On 28 February 2002, Hindu mobs who were part of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), unleashed massive violence against Muslims in Gujarat that went on weeks killing thousands of Muslims.

About 3000 Muslims are killed. Some 20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship are destroyed, and roughly 150,000 people are displaced.

The massacre was unleashed after the burning of 59 Karsevaks on board the Sabarmati Express in Godhra which was probed and declared an accident.

Congress MP Ehsan Jafri’s house

A mob of around 400 people had scaled the boundary wall of the Gulberg Society in the Chamanpura area of Ahmedabad and went into a killing spree in broad daylight with no intervention from police. Tenants including children were butchered and set afire, women raped and slaughtered, according to reports.

Massacre at Gulberg Society is considered the second largest violence after the Naroda Patiya massacre which took place on 28 February 2002 at Naroda, in Ahmedabad. 97 Muslims were killed by a mob of approximately 5,000 people, organised by the Bajrang Dal, a wing of the VHP.

Ex Congress Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri who lived in Gulberg Society became the prime target of the Hindu mob. Dozens of women and children were refuge in Jafri’s house, Rupa Mody — A survivor told Maktoob.

Jafri called many people for help including, the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. “How are you still alive”, Modi responded — claims Rupa Mody. Understanding he was the target, Jafri voluntarily walked towards the armed mob asking them to spare the lives of the women and children.

Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence, instructing police to stand by and let Hindu mobs do acts of violence against Muslims.

Strong evidence links the Narendra Modi administration in Gujarat to the carefully orchestrated anti-Muslim attacks. Hindu mobs had detailed lists of Muslim residents and businesses, and violence occurred within view of police stations. An independent media, Tehelka, used hidden cameras to capture some of the accused speaking openly of how the attacks had Modi’s blessings.

Gory details of how Jafri was hacked limb by limb at Gulberg Society, then burnt, have been reported, in the words of those who did it. “Women who were killed had no clothes,” Rupa Mody recalls.

Rupa Mody’s 14-year-old son Azhar Mody went missing during the violence, who was declared dead seven years following standard procedure. However, Mody still have hope in finding her son.

Mansuri was spared as he was not home during the violence. He lost 19 family members in the massacre. Unlike others who abandoned their houses and fled to safer locations, Mansuri and his two sons -Aslam and Rafiq – moved back with no other place to go.

Gulberg Housing Society remains a memior of the horror happened on 28 February 2002. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

“I rebuilt it myself,” says Mansuri angered by the delay in government compensation. “I will go on strike outside collector’s office if they don’t compensate”.

“I will not leave the house my parents built. Even if they give me hundred crore”.

House no. 2 near the gate belongs to Mansuri and house no.13 belongs to his brother. 80-year-old Mansuri takes money for vehicles parked in the compound and works at a bed stitching facility.

In 2016, special SIT court sentenced 11 convicts to life imprisonment, 12 to seven years and another to 10 years in jail with 36 acquitted in the case. Convicts were granted parole within months.

“Everything is in their hands,” says Mansuri referring to Modi’s regime. All the survivors will gather at Gulberg society on 28 February commemorating the day their ‘life changed forever.