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Pandya was among rioters: Victim

July 17, 2003 14:51 IST
Last Updated: July 17, 2003 15:14 IST

Deposing before the Nanavati Commission, which is probing the Gujarat riots, a victim on Thursday alleged that former state minister Haren Pandya was part of the mob outside his residence in Paldi, Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002.

"It was his (Pandya's) presence that instigated the rioters even more," Dr Yunus Mohammed Usman Bhavnagari, a dentist, told commission members Justice (retd) G T Nanavti and Justice (retd) K G Shah.

He said he was 'forced' to open fire at the rampaging mob, which shot his son Dr Amir Bhavnagari in the chest.

Several policemen were also present in the mob, he said.

The doctor's wife, son and other relatives told the commission that the mob set ablaze their house in Delite Flats, Paldi.

"Since then, we have never returned to our old home as we still fear for our life and were threatened not to come back," the doctor said.

The commission began recording the statements of riot victims and witnesses in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

Bhavnagari said he and his son languished in jail for three months despite the fact that the first information report filed then clearly stated that he had opened fire in 'self-defence' from his 'licensed revolver'.

The dentist, without naming a top police official, said the latter had told him, "You did what the police should have done; else your fate would have been similar to that of Gulbarg Society."

Former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri, who reportedly fired at a mob in self-defence, was charred to death along with 39 others in Gulbarg Society on March 1, 2002.

"The mob also torched 19 vehicles and two or three houses in Delite Flats while three teargas shells were lobbed into my house by police personnel who were among them," Bhavnagari alleged.

He said he tried to contact the police for three-and-a-half hours, but failed. It was only when a police patrol, headed by the then deputy commissioner of police (zone I), V M Parghi, arrived that the mob backed off, he added.

Bhavnagari's wife Tasneem described how a man standing outside their apartment had asked her not to return when she went back to collect the belongings a few days after the incident.

The family shifted to Kochrab area after the incident and they have also written to the National Human Rights Commission in this regard.

Press Trust of India

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