The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Riot witness battered

Ahmedabad, Oct. 21: Rehman Shakoorbhai Saiyed dared to name his children’s killers and got battered black and blue for it.

A group of 20 hoodlums, armed with hockey sticks and swords, last night descended on Faizal Park Society and thrashed him for having told the Nanavati Commission the names of the culprits who burnt three of his children alive in Naroda-Patia during the Godhra riots.

All his terrified fellow residents could do was switch off lights, bolt doors and pray for their lives as the goons attacked and bludgeoned the 40-year-old. Done, they brandished their swords and did the rounds of the society in Vatva where nearly 45 riot-stricken families of Naroda-Patia have been rehabilitated.

Saiyed is one of the four key witnesses of the carnage who deposed before the commission probing the riots earlier this month. Having seen his children burn alive, he named one Bhawani Sinh and Goodu as the main culprits and also slammed police for instigating trouble during the riots.

Saiyed said Akram — the leader of the gang that targeted him 20 days after his deposition — was a local goon.

“Ever since I came to stay here 14 months ago, I have never had any problem with him. So, he must have been hired by someone to attack me — someone who is not happy with my statements,” he said.

A Faizal Park resident, Khan Mohammed, who saw last night’s attack, said the goons showed up only after ensuring that the constable who protects Saiyed had left for dinner around 7.30. First, the three persons sitting with Saiyed were told to scoot. Then the hoodlums began beating him up, screaming that he was paying for having dared to name names.

“I was too scared, so I left and went to my home and switched off the lights. But I could see Akram, Salim, Firoz and Imran dragging him and then attacking him. Saiyed has several injuries with swords and hockey sticks,” Khan, who later took Saiyed to hospital and the police station, said.

Khan said the goons had made arrangements to ensure that Saiyed did not reach Vatva police station to file a first information report. They were seen loitering around on the main road for quite a while after they finished with Saiyed, he said.

Having sensed their motive, Khan took Saiyed on his scooter to Haveli police station, nearly 15 km from Faizal Park. But they were told they could file an FIR only at Vatva police station. Even 24 hours after the incident, no arrests have been made. Investigating officer B.R. Machi said: “Investigations are on. Senior officers are discussing the matter.’’

Sheba George, a social activist working with Naroda-Patia riot victims, said the attack on Rehman was an attempt to terrorise witnesses against speaking up. “This is a new tactic by the police to deter witnesses from exposing their questionable role during the riots,” she said.

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