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Ehsan Jafri fired at mob: Witnesses

November 07, 2003 04:07 IST

At least five Hindus on Thursday told the Nanavati Commission, which is probing the Gujarat riots, that they saw Congress leader and ex-member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri open fire at a mob outside the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002.

Due to Ramzan, hardly any Muslim came forward to depose before Justice (retd) G T Nanavati and Justice (retd) K G Shah.

Safdar Hussain Ankleshwaria, one of those who deposed, was a relative of Jafri. He told the commission that on February 28 a huge mob had gathered outside the society.

He said out of fear a majority of the residents gathered at Jafri's house, as he was a prominent leader, hoping that they would be spared.

"Jafri had called former (police commissioner P C) Pande over phone. Pande had come to the gate of society around 10.30 am and assured help. Jafri told us this and also instructed that all gates of the society be locked," Ankleshwaria said.

According to him, as soon as the commissioner left, the mob tried to enter the society.

Ankleshwaria said he and several others remained in the loft of Jafri's house till around 4.30 pm, and when he did step out there were dead bodies strewn all around the house and the society.

The five Hindu witnesses said it was Jafri who opened fire at the mob. Three persons had died in the firing, they added.

Vasu Patel, a resident of Chamanpura, held Jafri, the media and police responsible for the massacre.

He said the media had showed footage of those who had died in the Sabarmati Express carnage in Godhra, and this had incited people. He added that action should be taken against the media, which acted in a biased manner.

Instead of restraining Jafri, the police beat up locals and opened fire at them, he added.

Another witness, Madansinh Rajput, told the commission that Muslims used to misbehave with Hindus of the area before the riots.

He condemned English dailies, saying their reports were anti-Hindu.

In all, 15 riot victims/witnesses deposed before the commission.

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