| Zakia: Rebuilding on riot ruins
Ahmedabad, Feb. 27: Two years after rioting mobs garlanded Ehsan Jafri with a burning tyre, his son Tanvir and a Parsi couple are the only ones who do not want to sell their Gulbarg Society homes.
“This is where my father lived since 1965. And we have many fond memories of my father,” the Congress MP’s son said, clinging to his memories and hoping to return home, though most residents who survived the Godhra riots have decided to sell their houses and move to safer places.
Along with Tanvir’s father, 38 others living in the posh Muslim enclave — comprising 19 bungalows and eight flats with excellent infrastructure and approach roads — were killed by murderous mobs on February 28, 2002, in a backlash against the Godhra train burnings.
Roopa Tanaz and husband Daru Modi, the only non-Muslims living in the enclave, lost a son but, like Tanvir, are not willing to move out. The Parsi couple has lived in their flat for seven years with their only son, Azar, who went missing that fateful day two years ago.
Roopa last saw her 13-year-old son around 3 in the afternoon before she was hit by a stone and fell unconscious on the stairs. “In all probability, my son jumped out of the window when rioting mobs attacked the society.”
The couple has visited all mental hospitals, mosques and temples in Gujarat looking for their son. Not having found him, they plan to adopt a child and continue living in their flat.
Tanvir, too, wants to repair his family’s spacious bungalow and return to it with his mother Zakia who wants to live there with her memories and all her earlier neighbours. Repairs would cost him not less than Rs 2 lakh, but Tanvir intends beginning with the Rs 50,000 the government has given him.
But most of Zakia’s neighbours — some 200 Muslims families living in the Meghaninagar complex — are too scared and have migrated to Sarkhej on the city outskirts, where a non-government organisation has built cheap houses for them.
It wasn’t that they didn’t want to return to Gulbarg Society. Some did, and began repairing their houses. But like Aslam Mansuri — who lost 18 family members in the massacre — most could not muster the courage to live there again.
Some who returned to clean their burnt houses spotted their attackers roaming on the society premises. “We had given their names to the police, but here they were moving around freely, taunting us. How could we return there'” asked one.