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