Double Jeopardy

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As the State turns a blind eye, Muslim religious groups harass Gujarat riot victims forcing them towards conservatism. Sanjana reports Photographs by S Radhakrishna

Rubble Forced out of the colony, Mohammed Dewan returns to the home his neighbours razed in 2002
Rubble Forced out of the colony, Mohammed Dewan returns to the home his neighbours razed in 2002

FEAR”, SAYS Idrish Ismailbhai Vohra, “is a constant. In Gujarat, for Muslims, there is no escape.” After a pause, the 36-year-old tailor mulls over a possible escape route, “My family and I can commit suicide.” His 10-year-old son, who has travelled with him, looks up but says nothing. The boy’s silence and Vohra’s despondence fill the air. A week after Vohra speaks to TEHELKA, he is attacked in the dead of night by a group of people. Struck on the head with such force that he has to spend a week in hospital for constant nausea and frequent loss of memory. Threats to his life continue even after he is discharged. Lack of support has prevented him from filing a police complaint, he says. The only thing he could think of doing was to stay at home and send his two children to a relative’s house.

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Unyielding conditions

1 Prayers to be said five times a day with specially appointed Maulanas, at designated mosques located inside relief colonies

2 Attendance a must at three-day camps held once a month where discussions revolve around religion

3 No television sets allowed in the house even if residents used them to watch news bulletins

4 No music to be played on radios, computers or other devices

5 Women encouraged to don the Hijab and observe Purdah

6 Men encouraged to adopt Islamic garb – to wear skullcaps, sport beards an

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Idrish’s fears of being persecuted for speaking out are not unfounded. A month earlier, Abdulbhai Pathan was thrown out of his home in Tankaria relief colony because he spoke out against harassment. He now refuses to answer any questions from the press.

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