IMC-USA Weekly News Digest – January 19th, 2009




About seven years after the Naroda Patiya massacre during Gujarat’s 2002 communal carnage that officially left 85 dead, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (STI) has now added one more victim to the list: a six-month-old foetus, killed in the womb of its mother Lalbi Shaikh when she was butchered by the mob along with six of her children, on February 28, 2002. Lalbi’s husband, a shopkeeper of Faizal Park in Vatva, Abdul Majid Sheikh (65) in his deposition before the SIT has said that Lalbi was more than six-months pregnant when she and the couple’s six children were chopped to death at their home in Jawan Nagar. "Before she died, a gynaecologist near Saijpur Tower told us that our child was healthy in the womb. Lalbi and I together even watched our baby’s tender movements on a sonography machine in her clinic. This was three days before she was killed," Majid told this newspaper.

Majid says it would not matter if the law finally counted his unborn child as the eighth to have been murdered that day in his family. "I am looking for no compensation for my unborn baby. I made them (the SIT officials) write about this in my statement because I wanted the death of the seventh child to be at least acknowledged. They (city police) say that I had lost seven family members, but I insist it was eight. My unborn baby was human, too". Inspector I K Chauhan said the SIT has officially recorded Sheikh’s statement regarding the killing of his unborn baby and it would be added to the chargesheet in the case.

The Government gave Majid a compensation of Rs 35 lakh, Rs 5 lakh for each of his children and wife, but Majid says he will not touch a paisa for himself. "Woh mere ghar ke gosht ka paisa tha, isliye maine us mein se ek naya rupya bhi nahi liya." (That was the money for my own family’s flesh. I would not use even a single rupee of it on myself). So he has apportioned the compensation money among his four other children who escaped the knives that day."I fixed Rs 7 lakh each in the names of my other four kids (two married daughters and two sons), and bought for my sons a house and some land from the remaining money. I still run my small provision store to look after my second wife and two daughters I have from her."

While Majid and four children, Nafisabanu, Saheerbanu, Chand and Yasin, had managed to escape the mob with some injuries, Lalbi (38) along with the couples six other children, Sufiyabanu (22), Mehbood (18), Hussain (14), Khwaja (6) Shaheenbanu (4) and Afreenbanu (4) were slaughtered. The mob also burnt their bodies. "I was reluctant but some elders in the village convinced me to get married again for the sake of my remaining children, a year after Enakausar (Sheikh’s second wife), brought up my and Lalbi’s surviving children." Only that the meher went from the compensation he got. "He paid me Rs 10,000 as meher from that money," recalls Enakausare.


[Back to Top]


The Congress took a potshot at the captains of Indian industry, some of whom have hailed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a future prime minister, and urged that before handing out testimonials to him, they should remember that the entire edifice of the Modi regime "rests on the dead body of innocent people".

Party spokesman Manish Tewari drew a parallel with industrialists in Germany who had gravitated towards Hitler and praised his Nazi regime. "In 1933, German capitalists were attracted to a fascist dictator. I do not want to go into the consequences of the episode on Germany and the rest of the world. His (Modi’s) entire edifice rests on the dead body of innocent people," he said.

Advising industrialists to "realize the realities of Gujarat" before giving a character certificate to Modi, Tewari doled out statistics to allege the BJP regime had failed Gujarat, which has slipped on various economic indices. Alleging "’Vibrant Gujarat’ is a myth", he rubbished Modi’s claims that 63 per cent of MoUs signed during the 2003, 2005 and 2007 summits had been executed and that MoUs worth Rs 12,000 lakh crore had been signed that would create 25 lakh jobs. "The way Satyam fudged accounts, Gujarat is doing the same," he alleged.


[Back to Top]


On November 22 last, the Karkares celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary. Four days later, Hemant Karkare, chief of Maharashtra’s Anti Terrorism Squad, lost his life, shot by terrorists in a lane near the Cama Hospital here. The ATS investigation into the Malegaon blast which unravelled new terror links caused rancour in right-wing politicians. Yet Kavita Karkare bore all that with calm and dignity. However, soon after the Mumbai terror attacks, she raised questions about accountability. She wanted to know who really was responsible for her husband’s death.

Over a month after the tragic loss, Ms. Karkare, in her 50s, fights back her tears and puts on a brave front as she talks about her husband. "How long will I dwell on what has happened? I know I will not get the answers to the questions I am raising," she told The Hindu in an interview. "Even the attack on Parliament has not been solved. Where will I get justice? I know no one will give me the answers." To those affected by the November terror attacks on the city, Ms. Karkare sets an example in fortitude. A sociology teacher in a city college for the past 15 years, she plans to rejoin duty on January 15.

Yoga and lectures at the Chinmaya Mission are helping her put her shattered life back on track. She has been speaking out on various public forums in the city and voicing her opinion on terrorism. "I strongly feel that society and the government should come together and take some proactive steps to counter terror," she suggests. "Everyone should introspect where we went wrong. We lack patriotism. During the British rule, the feeling was strong, but now we don’t do anything constructive for our country. Our social commitment has slackened over the years. We are not doing it right from school," she points out. "I don’t have ill feelings towards political parties. This is a time to come together and fight terrorism. My social values have taught me tolerance," she says. The country has so many different religions and each religion has its special teachings. But how much of this is taught anywhere? "I feel we should have a 100-mark paper on secularism right from school."

Ms. Karkare feels that as a nation "we have accepted secularism." But that alone is inadequate. "We have to nurture it. We are not imbued with those values in our childhood itself. We are not doing it right from school. In adulthood, suddenly we are confronted with secularism." she says. "I always try to inculcate those values in my teaching. I discuss different religions in my class. I never apply escapism."

0 CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment