Muslim villagers fleeing firebomb attack are electrocuted by murderous Hindus

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 4 Mar 2002 06:19:26 -0000

The cement homes in the narrow cul-de-sac on the edge of the village
stand open today, ready for their owners to return, to light a wood fire
in the kitchen, turn on the small television on a shelf in the corner
and bolt the door. But after what happened here early on Saturday
morning, no one believes the Muslim labourers of Sadarpur will come
back. 

The assault began soon after 2am. I was told that 10,000 people (likely
to be an exaggeration), from surrounding Hindu-majority villages
descended on Sadarpur and in little more than one hour slickly
eviscerated this little community of about 140 Muslims. 

Tree branches and lengths of concrete sewer piping were dragged across
access roads to stop army and police reaching the village. When the
thugs arrived they flooded the dead-end lane with water, then
electrified the water with cables hooked up to the mains. They clambered
on to the low roofs of the houses, smashed holes in them and hurled in
petrol bombs and Calor gas cylinders that exploded inside, driving the
residents out into the lane. There, many were electrocuted. Their bodies
were dragged back into the houses to burn. 

Others fled out of back windows into fields. Some got away, others were
hunted down and incinerated. Some were sheltered in homes of sympathetic
Hindus in the village, but the marauders tracked them down and butchered
them. At least 28 men, women and children died. 

"Now it's not possible for Muslims to stay here," a Hindu living near by
says flatly. 

Fifty kilometres (30 miles) away, in the majority-Muslim village where
the survivors have found shelter, one of them agrees. "We decided that
we must leave that place," says MY Pathan, a teacher. "We left
everything behind, we came with what we were wearing. And we don't want
to go back, even to collect our belongings." 

The Hindu-Muslim violence in the west Indian state of Gujarat has
claimed almost 500 lives in the past five days, though senior police say
privately the figure may exceed 1,000. The first 58 to die were Hindus,
pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, incinerated in their train carriages.
But in wave after wave of retribution that followed, almost all who died
have been Muslims. 

The violence spread yesterday to the country's most populous state,
Uttar Pradesh, where Hindus and Muslims clashed. While arsonists
continued to attack Muslim homes and businesses in Ahmedabad, the
state's commercial capital, yesterday, Gujarat was struggling to come to
terms with the fact that these new waves of murder and destruction have
been different from anything the state has seen before. Across Gujarat,
Hindu militants are seizing the opportunity to kick-start a programme of
brutal communal cleansing. 

Like many of last week's victims, the Muslim labourers of Sadarpur were
extremely vulnerable: their simple homes are notably smaller and more
primitive than those of the Hindus who surround them on three sides. But
until last week, such exposure meant nothing. As well as a temple, the
village has a sizeable mosque, and a higher-caste Muslim community
living close to it. 

Hindu-Muslim riots have broken out almost every year in Gujarat – the
fountainhead of Hindu nationalism – but they have been confined to the
big cities. With the killing of the Hindu pilgrims last Wednesday, a new
era arrived. A Hindu hotel clerk in Ahmedabad said: "Now each and every
Muslim is a target." 

There was rumour of trouble in Sadarpur on Friday evening. Mr Pathan
says: "We were told some people will attack.So we called the police." An
officer and five constables showed up, distributed bland assurances and
went away again. 

Far from being an outburst of communal frenzy, this was a surgical
strike, carried out with military ruthlessness and discipline. All the
bodies had been removed when The Independent visited the site, but
evidence of the massacre was all around: the huge puddle in the lane,
anomalous in this parched zone; a burnt-out jeep; bags hastily
half-packed for flight; and in home after home, beds where victims had
died, burnt out, nothing left but the charred frame and a stinking black
spongy mess on the floor. 

Yet there was no looting here. Televisions sit untouched. Shiny
galvanised food dishes are still neatly aligned on sideboards. The
murder of 28 people in Sadarpur – one survivor claims the true figure is
55 – followed precise instructions. 

In Sawala, where 20 survivors from Sadarpur have taken refuge, I spoke
to GM Bahelim, a teacher. about the Muslims' future. Hindus from
surrounding villages have destroyed crops in Sawala, stolen buffalo and
vandalised wells, but only two men have died. Mr Bahelim is bleak.
"India is our country, our motherland. But the BJP [the Hindu
nationalists who rule both in Gujarat and, in a coalition, at the
centre] want the Muslims of India to go to Pakistan. They don't want to
give us any protection. They are saying, 'If you want to live in India,
become our serfs'." 

* The Speaker of the Indian parliament's lower house, GMC Balayogi, was
killed when his helicopter crashed yesterday, after developing a
technical problem while on the way to the Andhra Pradesh state capital,
Hyderabad, police reported. 

Source:  The Independent

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