The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Parties steer clear of Naroda-Patia

Ahmedabad, Dec. 2: Sixty and slightly crazed, Abdul Razak has a dream. He wants to become a terrorist.

Having lost six members of his family in the Naroda-Patia riots, Razak’s mind is unhinged. He now craves nothing but revenge.

“I want to become a terrorist to take revenge and do what they did to my family members,” he says between tears and screams.

What haunts him most is the “beastly manner” in which the rioters killed his six-month-old grandson. “I cannot forgive those killers. If I see them, I will kill them. What was the fault of my grandson who they killed so mercilessly'” he asks.

His friend, Mohammed Punjabi says Razak has been asking every visitor the same question since he returned to his Naroda-Patia home. For over six months after the riots, he lived at the Shah-e-Alam relief camp.

His well wishers have been helping him pick up the pieces, cajoling him to set up a tea stall and make a fresh start. But Razak couldn’t care less. He says he wouldn’t be able to rest till he shot dead the rioters who killed his family members in cold blood.

Panjabi and Noorani Masjid Imam Abdul Slam Shamsuddin say the man has suffered so much he has lost his mind. He mumbles all the time, sometimes shouts and sometimes cries. Sometimes he gets so hysterical that he cannot be controlled.

Psychotherapist Shadiq Hussain, who has been counselling riot victims, says Razak is not the only person whose mind has been unhinged. There are at least 35 others who are going the same way. Some weep without end, others talk without end. But none can sleep.

It is election time here, but politicians are steering clear of Naroda-Patia, where over 87 people were killed in the riots that erupted after the Godhra train carnage.

BJP candidate Mayaben Kodnani, accused of leading the mob that attacked Naroda-Patia, cannot bring herself to canvass in this Muslim pocket.

Her Congress counterpart does not have to campaign in this area because social activists are doing his job for him. Hundreds have fanned out to “educate” the minorities to exercise their right to vote and which party they should vote for.

The minorities are cynical and despairing, but they realise the importance of elections. They also understand the “real character” of the party they had voted in at the 2000 civic polls.

“We decided to support the BJP in the civic polls because it had promised a separate burial ground for us. They did not honour the promise, but converted the whole of Naroda-Patia into a burial ground,” says Mohammed Yusuf Ibrahim.

A 43-year-old electrician who lost 19 family members in the riots, Ibrahim says that such was the BJP wave in Naroda-Patia at that time, that all 7,000 people voted saffron.

This time around, priorities have changed. Ibrahim does not know the name of the Congress candidate from Naroda Patia, but he knows that he will vote for him. In all of the riot-ravaged area, there appears to be perfect unanimity on which party the people will vote in.

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