Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two-Day International Conference on “Challenges before Youth in the Contemporary World” December 10-11, 2011 Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Organised by
Institute of Objective Studies
The New College, Chennai

L-R: Dr. Altaff principal New College, Prof. Z.M. Khan Secretary General IOS, Capt. N.A. Ameer Ali Chairman Reception Committee, Abdul Qadir A.R. Buhari Pro Chancellor BS Abdur Rahman University, Dr. M. Manzoor Alam Chairman IOS, A. Md. Ashraf Secretary MEASI & New College, Dr. Ibrahim Bin Hamad Al-Quayid World Assembly of Muslim Youth Riyadh KSA, Dr. Dato’ Mohammad Iqbal Malaysia, Mecca Rafeeque Ahmed chairman FICCI Southern region, Dr. Christo Das Gandhi Addl. Chief Secretary Govt. of Tamilnadu, Mr. V.R. Lakshminarayanan IPS (Retd.) and Dr. Kaviko Abdur Rahman

IOS Conference on “Challenges before Youth in Contemporary World” at Chennai

By A U Asif

Youth are backbone of a society. That’s why every organization, whether it’s social or political, wills to have its own youth wing. However, there are a very few ones who takes care of the difficulties and challenges they face. From this point of view, the two-day international conference on “Challenges before Youth in the Contemporary World”, organized on December 10-11, 2011 by Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) in collaboration with Chennai-based Muslim Educational Association of Southern India (MEASI) as part of a year-long silver jubilee celebrations was important and extraordinary.

It was participated by a number of experts, scholars, other dignitaries and delegates from inside and outside the country. Besides inaugural and valedictory sessions, there were held five business sessions. The most remarkable point in these sessions was that the empowerment of youth got focus besides bringing back the moral values amongst them. The women empowerment was also discussed in detail.

Delivering his address at the inaugural function, Dr Ibrahim Bin Hammad Al Quayid of Riyadh-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) said the youth today in general faced three kinds of challenges. According to him, they were of political, economic and socio-cultural nature.

Speaker: Dr. Ibrahim Bin Hamad Al-Quayid, World Assembly of Muslim Youth, Riyadh, KSA

“An ideal society can emerge only when these three challenges are tackled tactfully taking them into confidence,” the renowned scholar opined.

Dato Mohammed Iqbal, a well known scholar and United Nations representative from Malaysia, said Islam didn’t differentiate between persons other than piety.

Speaker: Dr. Dato’ Mohammad Iqbal, Malaysia
Padamshree Mecca Rafique Ahmed, Chairman, Chambers of Commerce, Karnataka and a business tycoon said the youth today were running after money and going materialistic. “That’s why they are full of tension, stress and strain,” he said.

Speaker: Mecca Rafeeque Ahmed chairman FICCI Southern region
According to him, capitalism and Socialism were only 200-300 year-old whereas the history of Islam and Muslims was of more than a thousand years. Therefore, only Islam could come as a natural remedy to the youth, he declared.

In the words of V R Lakshminarayanan, IPS (Retd), the main issue was how to provide education to the entire Muslim community.

Speaker: Mr. V.R. Lakshminarayanan IPS (Retd.)

Author of his master-piece “Role of Muslim Youth in the Reconstruction of Contemporary World” published 28 years ago, IOS Chairman and star attraction of the conference Dr M Manzoor Alam said he had discussed the issues 28 years ago in his book but they still remained relevant because situation changed with the passage of time but not the root cause.

Speaker: Dr. M. Manzoor Alam Chairman IOS
Dr Kaviko Abdur Rahman, son of business tycoon and educationist B S Abdur Rahman, discussed the difficulties faced by the Muslim youth in general and suggested its solution. He said whatsoever was being done at the government level, and how much it was effective, was known to the government, but the Muslim community should itself pay attention towards it.

Speaker: Abdul Qadir A.R. Buhari Pro Chancellor BS Abdur Rahman University
In this connection, he dwelt in detail the efforts made by B S Abdur Rahman University and 14 other educational institutions in Tamil Nadu. He said his ageing father B S Abdur Rahman was now not in good state of health but had got concern about the youth even today. That’s why he had asked me to convey his good wishes and dua to them, Dr Kaviko Abdur Rahman said.

Muslim Educational Association of South India and New College Secretary A Muhammad Ashraf, in his presidential address, said the enthusiasm of the youth had increased a lot in the age of information technology but left behind the moral values in the race of development from the point of view of technical expertise due to which moral generation and crisis in mind developed.

Speaker: A. Md. Ashraf Secretary MEASI & New College
On this occasion, important dignitaries were given awards and citation. The inaugural function ended with a vote of thanks by Shafee Ahmed Ko. Earlier, the reception committee chairman Captain N A Ameer Ali delivered his inaugural address and IOS Secretary General Dr Z M Khan introduced the IOS.

Speaker: Captain N A Ameer Ali
Similarly, the valedictory function on December 11 was too attractive. Dr M Manzoor Alam, in his presidential address, said the IOS had decided to hold 14 international conferences in different cities under different topic covering the central theme “Towards Knowledge, Development and Peace: Outlining Road Map for Future” out of which the international conference on the “Challenges before Youth in Contemporary World” at Chennai was the eighth in number. He said IOS got opportunities to understand different problems faced by nation in general and Muslim community in particular through these conferences.

A view of audience
He said the youth had played their role in construction and destruction both in every age, and this was happening in this era too. “It is the responsibility of those keeping an eye on the situation and issues to pay attention towards them help in resolving the problems and challenges faced by them,” he advised.

Madras High Court judge G M Akbar Ali averred before a person passed through ageing, he should give importance to it and use it properly. He said he was not acquainted very well earlier with IOS but its multifarious activities had influenced very much. He hoped it would continue to guide the community and nation in coming year.

Speaker: Justice G M Akbar Ali, Madras High Court
On this occasion, Ibrahim Al Quaid of WAMY said his world body of youth looked with much hope and honour towards the activities of IOS. Summing up his view, he said today it was a fact whatsoever dream Dr Manzoor Alam had seen 26 years ago, had come to be true in the shape of this 25-year old think tank.

Tamil Nadu Assembly Member and President of Tamil Muslim Munnetra Kazhagham Dr M H Jawahirullah opined this think tank had earned a reputation not only nation wide but world wide too.

Speaker: Dr M H Jawahirullah, Tamil Nadu Assembly Member and President of Tamil Muslim Munnetra Kazhagham
On this occasion, former Madras High Court judge Abdul Bari, T Rafique Ahmed and New College Principal Dr K Altaf also expressed their views. The two-day conference ended with the adoption of a resolution presented by S M Abdur Raheem Patel.

The conference adopted the following resolutions in its concluding session.


  1. It is resolved that serious efforts be taken to set up a specialized ‘IOS Global Council for Youth Development’ in Chennai.

  2. It is resolved that Chennai Chapter shall draw a plan to approach regional institutions and policy planners to muster support for augmenting interaction with marginalised groups to study their issues and problems within their specific context. Collaboration with other societies to carry out these activities should be a priority.

  3. It is resolved that Chennai Chapter should also establish viable linkages with other regional chapters of IOS and try to create coordination with each other.

  4. It was resolved that effort should be made to involve the political, social and cultural segments of Tamil Nadu for creating awareness about the plight of Muslim youth and other marginalised sections of society.

  5. It is resolved to request the government to make quality education at higher levels affordable to weaker and marginalised sections of societies as it has become expensive and beyond their reach.

  6. It is resolved that special efforts be made to initiate programmes of soft and life skills development among youth at all desirable levels. A close contact with state government in these areas will be aimed at.

  7. It is resolved that efforts be made to include ethical and moral value systems in the school and college curricula.

  8. It is resolved to request the Tamil Nadu government to protect and promote all minority languages in the state.

  9. It is resolved that IOS sets up a separate fund to support Muslim youth who appears for IAS, IPS and other central and state services.

  10. It is resolved to make a survey of the Muslim youth and their family members who had undergone physical and mental agony during their incarceration in prisons for several years. Efforts should be made to take suitable measures for their rehabilitation.

  11. This conference appeals to the Muslim community to pay maximum attention in bringing up and character building of their children in Islamic perspective and also guide them in the selection of their career.
Shafee Ahmed Ko
IOS Chennai Chapter
Chennai,South India.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009: Some Reflections

Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam

Chairman, Institute of Objective Studies &
General Secretary, All India Milli Council

The right to education is part of the internationally recognised human rights. Universal declaration of Human Rights in 1948 first recognised this as a basic human right. As a corollary, this right has been incorporated in various international conventions and plans. A vast majority of countries has signed up to, and ratified, international conventions concerning this right, most importantly the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, despite ratification and undisputed desirability of this right, very few countries have incorporated it in their domestic legal framework or created administrative frameworks to ensure realisation of this right.

India has enacted The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 for ensuring free and compulsory education to children between the age of six and fourteen. This is a significant legislation. Realisation of the right to education to every child shall, indeed, be an important advancement of the society in general and weaker sections in particular. It is obvious that education shall enable people to develop skills, capacity and confidence to strive for realisation of other rights.

However, we should also keep in mind that this right to education does not mean that any education would be sufficient to fulfill our aspirations. Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomasevski, had said that for education to be a meaningful right it must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable.

In the Indian context, the scheme of the Act, we may describe these 4 A�s in the following terms:

Availability � means that education is government-funded, free, and there are adequate number of schools and trained teachers who may ensure quality education to a child in his neighbourhood.

Accessibility �means that the education system is accessible to all without any discrimination, but ensures positive steps for the marginalised sections of the society.

Acceptability � means that the education curriculum is relevant and of good quality with cultural acceptability for all, especially the minorities.

Adaptability � means that the education serves needs of the society and its suitable to specific contexts like religious education, etc.

In my opinion, the Act, in the present form, not only disregards all the 4 A�s but is violative of the rights of the minorities guaranteed under the Constitution. Without considering ground realities, the Act provides difficult and impractical standards.

For example, the RTE Act makes it compulsory for all schools to maintain a student to teacher ratio of 30:1. As per various surveys, schools in India are struggling with a ratio of 50:1 (and some schools with 80:1), while there are many, including those run by the government, which have just a single teacher. There are 5.23 lakh teachers� positions that are vacant while almost equal number of untrained teachers are employed at the primary level. How those teachers will be trained to make them qualified as per the norms prescribed by the RTE within the next five years is the moot question.

Accessibility is another problem. We have been witnessing fast commercialisation of school education. Instead of increasing government spending on school education, the RTE Act contains provisions making it compulsory for all private, unaided and minority schools to reserve 25 percent of total seats in elementary education for underprivileged and financially weak children.

The Act also provides stringent financial and legal punishments for violation of the clause making 25 percent seats reserved. However, while making this provision in the Act, rights of the minorities guaranteed under Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution were completely ignored.

Another important area that was not considered by the government was the madarsas, and other institutions imparting religious education. The Scheme of the Act has been such that a total ban would have been imposed on all institutions imparting religious education.

Almost all Muslim and other minorities� organisations have been raising their voice on these issues. Earlier, the HRD Ministry had on January 15, 2010 issued guidelines exempting madarsas and other religious education institution. However, the guidelines could not have overridden the provisions of the Act. Therefore, the demands for amending the Act continued.

Besides, the Muslim Personal Law Board and other Muslim organisations, Muslim members of parliament also put pressure on the government to bring in amendments to the Act itself so that these issues could be addressed. In December 2011, the government agreed to bring in amendment to the Act, exempting madarsas, Vedic pathshalas and other institutions imparting religious education from the purview of the Act.

Further, the demand for respecting rights of the minorities under Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution has also been accepted. An amendment making modified application of the law to the minority educational institutions is also going to be moved. It has been agreed that the provisions of the Act shall apply to the minority educational institutions subject to the provisions of Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution. The government has further agreed that the School Management Committee, constituted under Section 21 of the Act, shall perform advisory functions only.

The HRD Minister has promised to move these amendments to the RTE Act in the coming Budget Session of Parliament. Let us hope that this shall be done.

Further, one more amendment that needs to be made pertains to the children studying in madarsas, Vedic pathshalas and other institutions imparting religious education.

Such children, who are studying in madarsas, Vedic pathshalas or other institutions imparting religious education, their guardians and parents should not be subjected to any disability, penalty and punishment for non-compliance with any provision of the Act or rules made thereunder.

This is a logical and consequential amendment that the government should agree to incorporate in the amending Act.

There are many other challenges of general and practical nature, like allocation of funds, commercialisation of school education, etc., that requires serious deliberation by the government, educationists and other planners to make the right to education a really meaningful right, especially for the poor and marginalised, and save this law from becoming an act of tokenism.

February 21, 2012

Frontline cover story: A decade of shame

Volume 29 - Issue 04 :: Feb. 25-Mar. 09, 2012 INDIA'S NATIONAL MAGAZINE
from the publishers of THE HINDU

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A decade of shame
in Ahmedabad
The victims of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat are still to get justice but are determined to continue the fight.


GULBERG SOCIETY IN Ahmedabad today. Sixty-nine people died in the arson and massacre at the Society in the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom 

SAIRABEN SANDHI and Rupa Mody sit quietly on the back benches at the Metropolitan Magistrate's Court in Ahmedabad watching the proceedings in the Zakia Jafri case. Both the women have witnessed immense tragedy. One saw her son killed, while the other has been searching for her missing son for the past 10 years. In the courtroom, there are others too who survived the gruesome massacre at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad in 2002. All of them have gone through the trauma of seeing immediate family members hacked or burnt to death. The judge eventually postpones the hearing to another day and the survivors file out. They seem used to this routine. There is a level of tension and disappointment among them, but they are not entirely disheartened.

“We come for every hearing in this case. Until we are alive we are not going to give up. We are not going to leave him [Chief Minister Narendra Modi]. We know we will get justice even if it takes another 10 years,” says Rupa Mody.

The Zakia Jafri case has begun to symbolise the struggle for justice for all the riot victims and is reaching a crucial stage. It is the only case in which Modi is named as an accused and is, therefore, seen as critical in nailing the perpetrators of the pogrom. Coincidently, as the tenth anniversary of the Gujarat riots approaches, the case has taken a significant turn. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has filed a “closure report” saying there is not enough evidence to prosecute Modi. Zakia Jafri's legal team has gone in appeal. Its main contention is that the riots were meticulously planned and those in seats of power deliberately turned a blind eye to the attacks on Muslims across the State.

In the past few years, Modi has tried hard to get rid of the taint of the riots and get what he calls a “clean chit”. However, each time the “clean chit” has been within grasp, the law has intervened to thwart him. With Assembly elections in Gujarat scheduled for later this year and national politics beckoning him as an aspirant for the prime ministership, Modi appears desperate to get the riots-responsible label off his back. Furthermore, he has worked the corporate sector to project himself as a forward-thinking leader who is interested in bringing prosperity and development to his State – and not as a saffron politician interested only in communal politics. Getting the Tatas to shift their Nano small car plant to Sanand from Singur in West Bengal was clearly a part of this agenda, say observers.

February 28, 2012, will mark a decade since the Gujarat riots, undoubtedly one of the worst chapters of communal violence in the country's history. Official estimates put the death toll, of both Hindus and Muslims, at a little over 1,000, while unofficially it has been pegged at more than 2,000. At least 600 children were orphaned and more than 400 were reported missing.
Ten years later, the wounds are still to heal. The investigation into the riot cases are plodding along with no closure in sight. The only case to reach a conclusion is Sardarpura, where a mob burnt alive 33 Muslims trapped in a house. Thirty-one people were imprisoned for life in this case. There are eight other cases that are pending trial.
For many victims the memories of the violence are still fresh in their minds. “Only justice will help heal. But nothing they do can bring back my son,” says Rupa Mody.

If the nightmares of the 2002 violence were not bad enough, the minority communities have had to cope with severe marginalisation. Thousands of families have been hounded out of the State, and they have moved with just the clothes on their back to areas such as Mumbra in Maharashtra. On issues relating to the minority community, the dominant view is that over the past decade Gujarat has become more polarised than ever before. Access to education, employment, housing and other fundamental needs is becoming increasingly difficult. What is worse is that there are few rays of optimism – there is only a sense of helplessness.

Zakia Jafri, a big hope

Zakia Jafri saw her husband, Ehsan Jafri, a former Member of Parliament, being hacked to death. Ehsan Jafri thought that his house in Gulberg Society offered the best protection to other residents of the locality from the rampaging mobs. Unfortunately, in spite of several phone calls to the police and senior politicians, help never arrived and Jafri had to handle the mob single-handedly. Eventually, he stepped out of his house in an attempt to placate the mob. They killed him and then burnt his body in front of his family and neighbours.


Of the 30 homes and approximately 20 families, only one family continues to inhabit what is now virtually a ghost colony.

Zakia Jafri remembers vividly every moment of those two horrific days. As many as 69 people died in Gulberg Society and 28 went missing, one of them was Azhar, Rupa Mody's 13-year-old son. To date they remain missing.

Zakia Jafri, along with several activists and members of the Citizens of Justice and Peace (CJP), a non-governmental organisation, has maintained that the Gujarat riots were a pogrom and that there is enough evidence to prove this. Leading a protracted legal fight for justice for the past eight years, the feisty 70-year-old says she will not back down until the perpetrators and killers of her husband and thousands of other Muslims are punished.

“Now, at this stage, we won't let them close the case so easily. We will keep it going for however long it takes to get justice,” says Zakia Jafri, who lives with her son in Surat. “You cannot say that in 10 years nothing has happened. Modi's name is linked to terrible communal riots. His name is badnaamed (sullied) all over the world. Everyone knows his true colours since this case has got so much attention. The fact that he has blood on his hands… he cannot wipe that off so easily,” she said to Frontline.

Zakia Jafri's case reached a critical juncture in February, when the SIT decided to file a “closure report” citing lack of prosecutable evidence against Modi. Zakia Jafri's legal recourse is to appeal for the report. On February 15, she was told the report would be given within a month. This could mean the end of her case but she does have the provision to appeal in the higher courts and eventually in the Supreme Court.

In 2006, Zakia Jafri petitioned the court alleging that Modi and 61 others, including politicians, policemen and bureaucrats, had colluded to ensure that the victims of the mob attacks during the riots did not receive help. Zakia Jafri, along with other witnesses, testified in court that Ehsan Jafri repeatedly called Modi when they were under attack. But no help came. She accused Modi of abdicating his duty as the constitutionally elected head of the State government to protect the right to life of all its citizens regardless of their caste, community and gender and becoming the architect of a criminal conspiracy.

In 2007, the Gujarat High Court rejected her petition for a first information report (FIR) to be filed. Zakia Jafri and the CJP then filed a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court, which appointed Prashant Bhushan amicus curiae. In 2009, the court appointed a Special Investigation Team led by R.K. Raghavan, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), to probe the Zakia Jafri case.
In 2010, Zakia Jafri and thousands of others saw some manner of justice when the SIT summoned Modi for questioning. This was the first time in the country's history that a Chief Minister was questioned in a criminal complaint that dealt with communal violence. But two years later the SIT in its report cited lack of substantial evidence to prosecute him.

In an interview to Frontline, at that time she said: “Yes. It has been a long time. But when I heard Modi had been summoned, I said, ‘ Insaf ho jayega' [Justice will happen]. Someone like Modi cannot be accused of such a major crime without adequate evidence. We have persevered at collecting every relevant detail to implicate him. One day it will pay off. If he admits his guilt, that itself would be a punishment for someone like him.”

In what seemed like a victory for both parties, in September 2011 the Supreme Court sent the Zakia Jafri case back to the trial court in Ahmedabad as it chose not to pass judgment on whether Modi should be prosecuted or not. Modi celebrated the order, saying this essentially let him off the hook. Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad, activist and lawyer with the CJP, too, welcomed the order and saw it as a move in the right direction.

“This is part of the judicial process and we welcome and respect the Supreme Court's directive. It has not, by any length, given Modi a clean chit. They are just following the correct procedures,” said Teesta Setalvad. “Of course, we couldn't expect the Supreme Court to make a major decision, but this is as good. The reason why it is a victory for us and not for Modi or the BJP is that it has gone past the FIR stage,” she said.

This February the SIT, however, took what is now being seen as a predictable step and filed a “closure report”. Activists and those involved in the case exploded at the move. Sanjiv Bhatt, a suspended police officer who was named as a witness by Zakia Jafri and who testified against Modi, said: “In spite of substantial direct evidence and overwhelming circumstantial evidence to establish Modi's complicity in the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002, the SIT says they do not have enough to prosecute him.” He added: “The SIT has deliberately suppressed and concealed data which would implicate Modi.”
In 2010, Raju Ramachandran was appointed amicus curiae as Prashant Bhushan stepped down. Informed sources say Ramachandran's report is damning and flies in the face of the SIT's “closure report”. The next few weeks will determine where this case goes, says Teesta Setalvad. “But we will pursue it relentlessly. The Zakia Jafri case has become a symbol of justice and we have to keep it going.”

Gulberg Society – A mother's story

Rupa (Tanaz) Mody, her husband Dara Mody, and two children were the only non-Muslims living in Gulberg Society. Her son Azhar has been missing since February 28, 2002. Until she sees his body, she says she will not be convinced he is dead. He is among the 28 persons missing from this colony, which was ravaged by a mob that set it on fire by throwing chemical-filled vials that burst into flames once they hit a surface.

Eyes brimming with tears, she says she has searched for Azhar for 10 years and will continue searching for him. The family has gone through every morgue in the city, every police station, and put up posters too. A film, Parzania, has been made on her son. They have done whatever it takes to locate a missing person, but there is absolutely no sign of the boy. Distraught and angry, she says: “I will fight until my dying day to see that Modi and his band of rogues are nailed. I was in Jafri Saheb's house and saw how our cries for help were ignored by Modi and the police. I want them to pay.”

On the eve of the Zakia Jafri closure report case, Rupa Mody spoke to Frontline about what happened at Gulberg Society 10 years ago. Her story is only one of many horrific incidents that took place during the pogrom. She summoned the courage to speak out where others could not:

“My children were at tuition when we heard of the train burning in Godhra. The TV was on in my house but I didn't pay much attention to it at that time. My husband, who is a film projectionist, called from his office to say there were reports of violence and we should be careful. I got the children home. Then we began to see our neighbours come out looking concerned. Ours was a small enclosed colony of houses and from my flat I could see people gathering on nearby terraces. That is when I saw one man holding a gupti [axe] pointing towards us – then I became concerned.


CHIEF MINISTER NARENDRA MODI speaking at a BJP rally near Ahmedabad on September 25, 2011. 

“We started gathering in Jafri Saheb's house. He was an MP and we were sure he would organise help. Suddenly there were hundreds of men scaling the walls and entering the Society. They had hundreds of little vials of chemicals – resembling nail polish bottles, which they threw into our house. As soon as they hit a surface they would explode in flames. The mob had cleverly cut the water supply from the overhead tanks ,so we had no way of putting out the fires. They began gheraoing Jafri Saheb's house and demanding that he come out. We were 30-40 of us hiding, and we tried to hide the gas cylinders so that the chemicals would not hit them. They were using the cylinders to blast walls. Meanwhile, outside, our neighbours were being butchered by the mob. We could hear women shrieking – later I was told many were raped.

“By the evening almost every room was on fire. There was a ladder leading to the terrace at the back of the house. We started climbing towards that escape. By then many people had fallen unconscious because of the smoke. I could hear Jafri Saheb say, ‘Let me die if it saves you.' That was the last line we heard from him. He was killed by the mob. At this point I had both my children with me. In the commotion, I fell.

“As I fell I could hear my daughter shout: mummy get up, mummy get up. My daughter had been holding my son Azhar's hand right through the time we were hiding in Jafri Saheb's house. She had to let go of it to save me. When I managed to get up I only saw my daughter Binaifer not Azhar. We kept shouting Azhu! Azhu!, but could not find him. We finally made it up to the terrace, but even there we couldn't find Azhar. I tried going back down but everyone told me the mob would kill me. Still Zakiaben said, ‘Let her go – she is a mother.' Finally, when help came, we were told a boy matching Azhar's description was at the Saibagh police station. I rushed into the police station shouting ‘Azhu! Azhu!' but it wasn't him. I haven't stopped searching since then.

“We went back to Gulberg Society almost two weeks later. The entire colony had been burnt down. Ironically, my house was untouched. Perhaps because I had a picture of Mata on the wall they thought it was a Hindu house. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn't left my house we would have been safe and I would still have Azhar.”
Rupa Mody says Zakia Jafri's case is very critical to all the riot cases. This case names Modi as the prime accused. She says everyone in Gujarat will agree that Modi controls everything, and this violence could not have taken place without his consent and knowledge.

“What do you tell a mother who cannot find her child?” says Father Cedric Prakash, who heads Prashant, a human rights organisation in Ahmedabad. “Modi won't allow Parzania to be screened in Ahmedabad. Why? What is he afraid of?”

A ghost colony

Located in Meghaninagar, a suburb of Ahmedabad, Gulberg Society is a tiny colony of half a dozen houses and 18 apartments. To understand how cruel and violent the riots were, one has to walk through the Society compound today. The houses are burnt shells. Walls are broken and covered with soot from the fires started by the mob. There are no windows on any of the houses, and the ones that remain are either shattered or have fallen. The floors are covered with mud and ash. Here and there are burnt remnants of household materials – a painting, some slippers. It is an eerie feeling when one wonders how many dead bodies would have been found on these floors.

Zakia Jafri-Citizens for Justice and Peace case - a chronology (PDF)
Gulberg's compound is filled with weeds, overgrown foliage, garbage and stagnant water. Stray dogs have made it their home, and one can see a few passers-by stopping to ease themselves on the walls of what was once someone's home. A watchman from the nearby bakery is allowed to use one of the rooms of a bombed-out home, to sleep during the day. When awake he keeps an eye on the property. The property cannot be sold or developed as it is under litigation, testimony to a terrible crime and a numbing reminder to those who survived.
Of the 30 homes and approximately 20 families, only one family continues to inhabit what is now virtually a ghost colony. Kasimbhai Alanoor Mansoori lost 12 family members, including his wife, daughter and a son. Occupying the first house, he says he does not live here anymore but uses the premises for business.

“We built these houses with so much difficulty. The houses must be worth a least Rs.50 lakh. But that doesn't matter. We have lost so much more,” says Mansoori. “The Gulberg Society case is very important because of Modi's involvement. We have to keep fighting,” he says.

Every year on February 28, members of Gulberg Society gather in the compound and pay homage to those who were killed. This year will be no different. It can only be hoped that the Zakia Jafri case moves in the right direction. Anything other than that would be unfair to those who have lost so much.