Part 2- The Riots

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I joined engineering college in October and within a month was dating someone. We spent a lot of time at my parents row house because… we didn’t have any other space. He lived with his parents and I stayed in a hostel.

We had decided to meet on 27th February in the morning at the house for a tète e tète. On 26th February during the attendance at 8 pm the warden of the hostel asked us not to move outdoors the next day. Something terrible had happened and she refused to get into the details. In the hostel we were cut off from newspapers, TV, radio… any source of news. There were no mobiles and internet was available only at cyber cafes. She said something about a train burning and stuff. Nobody said much about it. And I didn’t take it very seriously. Since the hostel gates opened at 6 am, I decided to leave for the house at that hour. I didn’t want anyone to notice I had left. At home I waited till 9 am. It was eerily silent outside. No hawkers. No neighbours. No sounds of morning. The shops were not open but then it was too early for that. There was no way to reach the bf because STD booth wasn’t open yet. I started getting scared. What if I was trapped at home and couldn’t leave? My parents would kill me if they found out I was not at the hostel. The warden would notice my absence by night because of attendance. My room-mate also didn’t know where I was. I decided to take a risk and drive back on my scooty back to the hostel. There was not a soul outside which is very unlike A’bad. The city wakes up by 6 am and all the parks are flooded with walkers, joggers, health conscious people. The parks are flanked by hawkers selling idlis, juices, upma, poha. The day ends at 11 pm and even at that hour it is common to see youngsters- male and female, hanging around CG road on the footpaths. This silence was not normal. And when I say nobody… I mean, nobody. Not even the cops or the traffic policeman. The hostel was just 15 mins away if I drove like a maniac, which I did. On the way… somewhere near Parimal Gardens and earlier around Satellite, I came across mobs. They were near the shops, doing I don’t know what. I didn’t stop to watch and drove away. They didn’t have weapons but were upto something ominous. When it all came in the papers I realized the Satellite mobs were looting V. Ravjis. V. Ravjis was a famous supermarket chain in A’bad. My mom always shopped at the Vijay Char rasta outlet and we loved getting the coupons which made us eligible for a lucky draw every month. The chain had been sold to Adani’s but the group had decided to continue with the original name because of it’s connect with the consumers. V. Ravji’s was owned by a Muslim but since the mob didn’t know about the change in ownership, they had looted the stores.

I reached the hostel where the warden admonished me and didn’t believe my story that I had gone looking for a STD booth to call my parents.

What I am trying to say is this- everyone knew the riots are going to happen. We had been warned beforehand. And the government was hand-in-glove with the rioters. Why else were they no cops on the roads on 27th February. I crossed all the posh areas… Satellite… Ambawadi… Parimal Gardens… Ellisbridge. Everyone who was/is in Gujarat knows the riots were pre-planned but they won’t say it because they support it. Gujarat is not like Haryana where there are no cops and crime can go unchecked. It is considered a safe place, even for women. Yes, the courts acquitted Modi but then it acquitted Jayalalitha and even Salman Khan will go scot free. I know what I saw. And I judge basis that. Everything else is bullshit.

On 27th February 2002, people knew there were going to be riots. They were warned about it atleast 12 hours in advance. They stayed indoors. The government asked the cops to stay away and let the rioters do what they do best- loot, kill and rape. Only after 24-48-72 hours was any effort made to quell the riots. Until then it was a free for all. And there was not even 1 cop on the road on that day. That is not possible without the government’s involvement. No matter what Modi did before or after and what he does next he will always be responsible for these killings.

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