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Genocide in Rural Gujarat: The Experience of Dahod District
A report prepared by
Forum Against oppression of Women and Aawaaz-E-Niswaan
Bombay, June 2002
Piplod (Taluka: Baria)
Piplod is a town with a large Muslim community. The total affected households of non-Bohra Muslims here is 190. The people from here ran in different directions. Some of them are still in Dahod camp and others are in Godhra and Baria also. We met them in the Dahod camp.
On 28th February 2002, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal announced Gujarat bandh. During the bandh, there were many meetings of Hindutvadis in Piplod and they notified the sarpanch of the adjoining villages that all the Muslims of this village would be burnt alive and Piplod would be destroyed. When this news reached the Muslim community, they asked the leaders of Hindutva to tell them the truth about planning to kill Muslims. The leaders told them simply that they would have to pay for what they did. The Muslims then repeatedly asked for police protection, but the police also said that Muslims would have to pay for what they did and left the place.
On 28th evening around 4 pm some timber depots were burnt and when Muslims were trying to stop the flames, they were asked to leave and were also threatened to be set ablaze. The Muslim leaders went home. Ten to twelve depots were burnt under the leadership of Ketan Parikh, Prithvi Puwar (sarpanch of Guna village), Bhuderbhai Mulabhai (ex sarpanch ) leader of Salia Manubhai Valabhai (Taluka pramukh), Pradipbhai Manabhai, Sunil Rameshchandra Soni. Under the leadership of these people and other businessmen, the mob rushed forward to set the whole village on fire.
The mob burnt 6 buildings, several shops as well as cabins belonging to Muslims on Randhikpur Road. When some Muslims tried to talk to the mob, they were also attacked with a round of rifle shooting. Meanwhile they approached the Mamlatdaar and province officer of Devgarh Baria who in turn announced a curfew. When the announcement was being made with the help of a microphone, one of the local Hindu leaders, Sureshbhai Gangaram Darji broke the microphone and told the above officers that there was no need to bring curfew in this village and the Muslims must pay for what they have done. Both the Mamlatdaar and the province officer left for Baria after that.
On Friday 1st March 2002, at around 10:30 in the morning Ketan Parikh took the leadership and gathered the Hindu leaders of the surrounding villages in front of his house and stated in public that all the Muslims should be killed. He asked them to come at night with people from their villages around 10. He gave them arms, swords, dharias, bows and arrows and some bottles of chemicals and then the mob left. At around 2 am the mob started burning the village and chanting the slogan "Ketanbhai zindabad". By this time other Hindutva=vadis staying in the Muslim area shifted en masse to somewhere else. The fierce mob started throwing stones and arrows at the Muslims to force them to leave the place. The Muslims pleaded with them to stop the assault and asked for police protection. Police on the contrary turned them away saying that they had not received any order so far and asked them to leave the village or this mob would kill them all. Meanwhile the Muslims feared that the police would be joining hands with the mob.
Then the sarpanch of Panchela village, Ranchhodbhai Aahir, was alerted of the attacks and that the Muslims had no protection and he offered protection in his house. At that time mob had already started throwing stones and burning houses and Masjids on Baria road which is the basti where a large number of Muslims stay. Muslims from other parts of the town had also gathered there in the big Masjid and in the houses there. They all decided to leave the village and go to Panchela even though they could not get police protection for their journey. They were stoned at on their way to Panchela and were stoned at again on their way to Dahod despite having police protection for this leg of the journey. They suffered from some minor and major injuries while travelling. After that no Muslims were allowed to enter the village. Ten days after when a Muslim man, Idrismian Kasammian Malek, went to see the condition of his house, he was burnt alive near the old bus stand using petrol.
Several months before these incidents, the following men from Piplod village went to Rajkot to cast false ballots so as to assist the victory of Mr. Narendra Modi in the election:
1-Vinod Khemchand Agarwal 2-Rashmikant Rasik Soni
3-Gopal Amrutlal Soni 4-Anilkumar Hashmukhlal Jayswal
5-Sureshbhai Gangaram Darji 6-Chandubhai Vishanudas Nathani
7-Sunil Rameshchandra Soni 8-Mukesh Manilal Darji
9-Ashokekumar Kantilal Solanki 10-Sunilkumar Govindlal Shah
Two months ago when the B.J.P. lost in the election these same men said that "though you helped Congress to win this time, our time will also come. And then at that time we will rob you and have holi."
Although complaints have been registered with the DSP, when Muslims from Piplod go to the collector's office, the DSP tells them that if they want to live in their village they should not give any names or else they will burn and kill them again. They also get similar answers at the police station. They are also told not to identify their looted property as their own if they want to stay in the village or they will be killed. They have registered 28 complaints with the police but no steps have been taken as yet.
The 44 families from Piplod who are staying at Dahod relief camp would like to go back to their village. They have started cleaning up the houses and some whose houses were liveable are already staying there. A number of places where they had their shops have been taken over by Hindu shops. Removing them from there and reclaiming their space is another thing for which people from Piplod have been fighting.