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.