Gujarat quietly marks 10th anniversary of deadly riots

The 10th anniversary of the communal riots that ignited in Gujarat, India in 2002 and left over a thousand dead passed with many of the families of victims still seeking justice.

Ten years ago, a train filled with Hindu pilgrims returning from the holy site Ayodhya was set on fire by a mob of Muslims, killing 59 people. The backlash of that incident resulted in communal riots during which mostly Hindu mobs tore through Muslim houses and businesses, sometimes burning them down with the occupants inside.

According to the Indian newspaper The Hindu, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist organization, marked the day with prayer meetings and a rally in Godhra to commemorate the deaths of the Hindu pilgrims, while the relatives of victims of the subsequent riots marked the anniversary at the Gulberg Society, which saw several deaths in the riots.

Caravan magazine offered a haunting vision of the carnage of the day: “By 2:30 p.m., the mobs had broken through the gates of the housing society, and a flood of men converged on [Ehsan] Jafri’s home. Women were raped and then burned alive; men were made to shout “Jai Shri Ram”, and then cut to pieces; children were not spared. According to records later submitted in court, Jafri was stripped and paraded naked before the attackers cut off his fingers and legs and dragged his body into a burning pyre.”

However, many survivors and families of victims are still waiting for justice. Sanjiv Bhatt, a suspended Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, told The Hindu, “Democratic space is shrinking in Gujarat. If we forget [the] history of what happened, we will be condemned to relive again. If the silent majority who was not affected by the incident remains silent, such incidents will keep happening. We have to shed our apathy.”

Al Jazeera had a special report with prominent Muslim politician Ehsan Jafri’s widow, and Sanjiv Bhatt, who produced evidence of the chief minister’s office knowing about the threat of violence. Chief Minister Narendra Modi remains unapologetic about how the events of 2002 unfolded, said Time, despite criticism that he had stood by allowing the violence to spiral.

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Here is Al Jazeera's report:

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