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'If Modi had taken timely action my father would have not died'

Last updated on: June 02, 2016 18:39 IST

On Thursday, June 2, a special investigation team court convicted 24 out of the 66 accused in the 2002 Gulbarg society case and acquitted 36 accused.

Tanveer Jafri -- son of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the massacre -- on how the carnage was a conspiracy against the community and their continuous fight for justice.

IMAGE: The home of Ehsan Jafri, who was killed by a mob in the Gulbarg society massacre in Ahmedabad, February 28, 2002. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

The Gulbarg Society carnage during the Gujarat riots was a huge tragedy in which my father Ehsan Jafri was burnt to death.

I feel this entire incident was a conspiracy (against Muslims) because the police did not reach the spot even 10 hours after the rioters had set flames to the society. They wanted all the people in the premises to die.

My father was killed because of this conspiracy. The policemen were involved as they did not take any action to stop this carnage.

My mother Zakia Jafri's petition is already pending in the Supreme Court and the Gujarat high court. Therefore, I won't comment now on whether my father got justice after this verdict or not.

My father had been staying in the Gulbarg society from 1950. Not a single stone was thrown at him. In 1977, he won the Ahmedabad parliamentary elections. He was a very popular leader.

I feel he was targeted because he had campaigned against then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the Rajkot by-election. Modi had to win the election because he was the chief minister.

The Gulbarg Society is huge, it is not an easy place to burn down. It burnt for 10 hours, but there was no help from the government.

If there was no conspiracy, this horrific incident would not have taken place. 'Big people' were involved in this incident. There was a conspiracy for sure and it is unfortunate that the court did not find a conspiracy angle to it, but we will appeal against this in the higher courts.

While I was in Surat at the time of the incident, my mother saw the massacre. She saw thousands of people entering the colony, burning our homes and killing my father.

Today when the court read out its verdict, she is disturbed how only 24 people were convicted. We will only come to know why the others were acquitted after we read the judgment.

It gives us a bit of satisfaction, but I am not completely satisfied. We were fighting for justice under a hostile environment. The Gujarat state government and now even the central government was interfering in the case, but we feel vindicated that 24 people were convicted.

Our witnesses pointed out in court how the police destroyed evidence intentionally to save the accused rioters.

My mother is unable to fathom why the police could not catch the rioters. The 60 rioters whom we named in our petition were the only people who could be found by the police. They too were caught only after the Supreme Court intervened and formed a Special Investigation Team.

If you see the old FIR, there were only 20 accused in the first list of rioters. My mother said that she saw 1,000 rioters on that tragic day and the least the police could do was arrest at least 100 people and convict them.

What the court has said about all these things I will need to read about in its judgment. We have to fight more as justice has already been delayed. So many people were killed that day. The judgment should have come five years ago.

I am unhappy that Bipin Patel, the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) councillor was acquitted. The police inspector who was in charge of that area too was left off. We continue to ask the question: Who burnt the bodies?

Lastly, I would say if Narendra Modi (as the chief minister) had taken timely action my father would have not died.

Not only my father, but all the people of Gulbarg Society would have been alive.

There are witnesses who said in court that my father called Narendra Modi to save them, but he did not give a positive response and help did not arrive. When he did not get any response from Modi he told all the people trapped in the Gulbarg society to run away and save their lives.

Ehsan Jafri could not survive as the rioters killed him on February 28, 2002.

As told to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com

Syed Firdaus Ashraf / Rediff.com