DHULE (MAHARASHTRA): Sixty-year-old Musa Sahebji Bagwan left as usual last Sunday morning to sell bananas at Gopal Nagar. He never returned. His son found him two days later after he heard that a body was found at Gopal Nagar. He was identified by a mark on his right hand.
The post mortem report says Musa died of head injuries. His son has sought refuge in a camp at the National Urdu High School on Chalisgaon road in Dhule. The camp has nearly 3,800 people and is run by Maulana Riaz Ahmed Gilani. Riot-affected people from various parts of the city as well as 10 to 15 villages in the vicinity are camping here since trouble broke out on October 5.
None of them ever wants to return home. Their houses have either been burnt or looted. Maulana Gilani says the camp will be run till people can be assured of a safe return.
Ayeshabi, who lives in a slum near the railway station, says she and her four children were brought to the camp in trucks by local councillor Satish Patode. “We were attacked in the night and by morning we were sure we would be dead,” Ayesha said. Women are living in terror at the camp. Haseenabi Pathan said she escaped with her three daughters. “The mob beat me up badly and I was terrified they would attack my children,” she said.
Zakia Pinjari ran away when she saw the huge mob which was burning down homes. “I was alone at home and fled with the clothes on my back,” was all she could say. The slums near the railway station have a mixed population. The residents claim that only the Muslim homes were attacked and burnt.
In Moglai, which is 2 km from Dhule, police escorted the affected people to the camp. Khairunnissa says the mob looted their houses on Tuesday morning and they somehow escaped. About 10 to 12 houses were ransacked in Moglai. Residents said such a thing had never happened before, not even in the post Babri Masjid demolition riots in 1992.
The main question these women are asking is how will they go back and resume their lives. They also allege that the police played an active part in the rioting, a charge that senior police officials deny.
In Aksa Nagar, which is close to Gajanan Colony which was burnt badly, there were riots after Sunday. Niyamat Bi said that being one of the few Muslims in Aksa, her house was targeted by the mob. “We had such excellent relations with everyone. I don’t want to go back there as we can be attacked again. They even stole my goats,” she said.
The camp has several policemen who are taking down complaints of losses. People are too scared to return to their homes and the police have set up booths to lodge first information reports.
Forced to leave
The madrasa run by the Falah Darain Trust also sheltered nearly 600 people after the riots. Even now there are 300 who live here. Some oil and wheat was sent by the government and it was only on Saturday that some milk supplies were sent here, according to Maulvi Ibrahim Bilal Ahmed, a trustee. Sharif Ismail and his brother, who ran a tailoring business in Gajanan colony, were forced to leave as their houses were burnt. “There are only 15 to 20 houses of Muslims and most of them were destroyed,” he said. Kasam Pinjar from Phagne, a village about 8 km from Dhule, has sought shelter here.
No Muslim family left
On Sunday night a mob entered Kasam’s house in the Muslim-minority village and looted it. He said he recognised the people in the mob. “We walked to Dhule and then we heard about this camp,” adds Kasam. There is no Muslim family left in Phagne. You can see the burnt houses in Phagne, along the main road and there are pockets inside which have been targeted.
Bagabai, a local activist says that it was a mixed area and both communities lived together. “I don’t know how all this happened,” she said.
Residents of Phagne are tight-lipped about the incident and pretend they don’t know anything. There is no question of going back there now, says Chotu Pinjari, another Phagne resident, who is in the camp at the madrasa. Small traders like Ashraf Khan have been the worst hit. “I had left my shop which was well stocked because of the festival season and left for home early,” he said. However, Khan’s shop and house was looted and he lost goods worth Rs. 2.5 lakh. “I have lived all my life in Dhule and it was a peaceful place. I grew up with the Hindus and did not expect to be treated like this,” he said. In another village, Nagav Bari, five houses belonging to women who work in a rope factory were burnt.
Even though their employer tried to protect them, they had to leave in the night. Razia Bi said, “We can’t even file a complaint now.”
The camp residents are now demanding new homes. Bismillah, a resident of a slum near Dhule railway station, was determined that the government should relocate them in a safe place. “We want to live safely and not under the threat of death,” she said.
7 months ago