The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Innocent’ Naroda residents face police wrath

Ahmedabad, March 10: A man of Naroda Gam and his son were arrested some time ago along with 10 others for killing Ghanshyam Patel during the riots that followed the Sabarmati Express train attack last year.

Bhikhabhai Mansuri and son Yusuf had just begun to rebuild their lives after returning to their house, looted and partly burnt, three months ago when they were arrested. They are still in jail and police are yet to file a chargesheet.

Eyewitness Munna Rajput, however, is ready to vouch for the duo’s innocence. The police rounded up the 12 following Munna’s eyewitness account of the killing of 11 Muslims at Naroda Gam.

Munna says: “Hindus retaliated only after they (Muslims, reportedly) killed Ghanshyam Patel.” But the Mansuris are not involved, he said, vowing to go on record with his claim.

Munna said he would present himself before a judge to tell the truth. “I know how to do it.”

Not just the Mansuris, even another “accused” Nanumiya is innocent, he says.

The other eyewitness, Rajendra, has assured Yusuf’s brother Salim that his father and brother are innocent and he will ensure their release.

The sessions court has twice rejected their bail applications; first, on the ground that investigations are on and the second time, the police argued they should not be released as they would influence the investigation.

The legal cell of Behaviour Science Centre, a non-government organisation, is now exploring the likelihood of filing a revision petition in Gujarat High Court.

Senior advocate Bhushan Oza, working on the case for the NGO, says: “To me, it appears that Yusuf and his father have been implicated in this case.”

It was in Naroda Gam that VHP leader Jaideep Patel and Naroda’s BJP MLA Mayaben Kodnani were allegedly spotted in the mob that attacked Muslims who were fleeing with 205 other families of the Hindu-dominated village.

According to Naroda Gam residents, Patel was killed by Allaudin, who himself died on February 28. The first FIR in the case says: “Body was unidentified and accused are unidentified.”

The police record goes on to say the victim (Patel) was killed at 12.30 pm, though his wife says in her FIR that Patel left home around 1 pm.

It was only after the police lodged a second FIR that the body was identified as Patel’s. Of the 12 accused, only one was identified as Bishmall.

Sadiq Quereshi, a close friend of Yusuf, alleges that innocents were rounded up at the behest of the VHP who want to “terrorise and harass the villager” who lodged an FIR against one of the outfit’s leaders.

The names of Jaideep Patel and Kodnani have figured in several FIRs lodged at Naroda police station. The final chargesheet the police filed, however, did not include Jaideep or Kodnani’s name for “want of evidence”.

Yusuf, 26, was a “peace volunteer” who helped riot victims in his village and at the Shah-e-Alam relief camp. He himself shifted to this camp after the mob attack on his village.

Recently, when Yusuf was produced in court, he told his Aman Pathik (peace volunteers) friends: “I am worried about my father. Please get him out of jail.”

Bhikabhai, a bus driver with the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, has been suspended from service.

Yusuf, who was pursuing a course in community development, will now almost certainly fail to complete the course after his long absence. At home is his grandmother, a heart patient, who needs regular care.

Sadique alleges the police swung into action and arrested the 12 from Naroda Gam only after Jaideep Patel was fired at in Naroda areas some months ago.

The police, he says he heard, “have prepared a wanted list” to round up.

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