Attacker, victim: 2 faces of Gujarat riots come together for ‘Hindu-Muslim’ unity

The men were brought together by journalist-activist Kaleem Siddiqui for the launch of Ansari’s autobiography.

Written by Tanvir A Siddiqui | Ahmedabad | Updated: March 5, 2014 9:11 am
Ansari said at the seminar that for him, “Mochi is far better than Narendra Modi because while Mochi has apologised to him and the community openly at the seminar, Modi is still to apologise for the killing of innocent Muslims”. Ansari said “Mochi is far better than Narendra Modi because while Mochi has apologised to him and the community, Modi is still to apologise for the killing of innocent Muslims”.

At a seminar organised in Thaliparamba in Kerala’s Kannur district on Monday, two men sat together, smiling and talking. Twelve years ago, these men had entered India’s collective consciousness through their pictures published in the news media — images that went on to become iconic reminders of the Gujarat riots of 2002.

One of the men was seen as the victim, wearing a shirt streaked with blood, pleading for mercy with folded hands, his eyes brimming with tears. The other appeared as the ruthless perpetrator of the violence, wearing a black beard and saffron Bajrang Dal bandana, standing with a leg on a signboard and both hands aloft, in one of which he held an iron rod. Behind him burnt a large fire.

The first picture — of a tailor named Qutubuddin Ansari — was taken in Naroda Patiya, which saw some of the worst violence of the riots. The other picture, of Shahpur cobbler Ashok Bhavanbhai Parmar, or Ashok Mochi, was taken in Dudheshwar.

On Monday, participating in a seminar cal‘ed ‘A decade of genocide’, organised by the CPM, the two men showed they had come a long way since February 28, 2002, the day their pictures were taken in riot-torn Ahmedabad.

The men were brought together by journalist-activist Kaleem Siddiqui, who travelled with them to Kerala from Gujarat for the launch of a Malayalam edition of Ansari’s autobiography.

Speaking at the seminar, Mochi apologised to Ansari and the entire Muslim community for the killings of 2002. The 40-year-old Ansari is now happily married with three children; the 39-year old Mochi, by contrast, does not even have a voter’s ID, and has been deprived of the benefits of all government schemes.

Ansari has been trying to stay out of the public eye ever since his picture was used in an email allegedly sent by the Indian Mujahideen. Mochi said he has decided to devote his time to working for Hindu-Muslim amity, and to “improving my image of a communal zealot”.

“It is because of my unsound financial position that I have not been able to get married,” Mochi told The Indian Express over the phone from Kerala. In 2002 he lived in Kajimiya ni Chali in Shahpur with his elder brother. He now lives across the road in Haleem ni Khadki.

Cases were filed against him for rioting. “I was acquitted in the lower court because they could not get any evidence against me from local Muslims. The government appealed against the acquittal, and a judgment is now pending,” he said.

Ansari said at the seminar that for him, “Mochi is far better than Narendra Modi because while Mochi has apologised to him and the community openly at the seminar, Modi is still to apologise for the killing of innocent Muslims”.

“I have no intention of jumping into politics, but this seminar is giving a message to counter communal forces and expose their lies about welfare measures, so I am here, besides the release of my autobiography”, Ansari said.

Mochi blamed the media for “demonising” him and “tarnishing his image”. “You can go to the place where I live and check for yourself if I didn’t helped local Muslims reach safety during the riots,” he said.

Kaleem Siddiqui, the brain behind the seminar, said his objective was to expose the lie that Muslims had started supporting Modi, and that they would vote BJP in the coming polls. He said Urdu, English and Gujarati versions of Ansari’s autobiography would be brought out subsequently.

“The Malayalam edition of 1,000 copies, priced at Rs 85 each, was sold out in day,” Siddiqui, who run a fortnightly Urdu newspaper called Tarkash in Ahmedabad, said.

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  1. A
    Mar 5, 2014 at 11:51 am
    who is apologizing for burning alive people in train ?
  2. A
    Mar 5, 2014 at 11:51 am
    It is a pleasure to learn that the two faces have come together. The ordinary citizens, whether Hindu or Muslims, react on the incitement of the leaders and in the end nobody bothers about them. I wish if their model could be used to spread the message of love across the country. All we need is love! Say no to hate please.......
  3. B
    Mar 5, 2014 at 7:39 am
    12 years is something not round. It is more than a decade. But 30 is a round number. Why not 30 years? Why CPM is focusing only on 2002 and not 1984? Or why not both 2002 and 1984?
  4. D
    Drrkd Goel
    Mar 5, 2014 at 7:15 am
    In Gujarat all will come on one platform as Mr. Narendra Modi will be BJP Prime Minister of India in 2014. No one can stop Mr. Modi to be PM in 2014 as all the Hindu youths and women are fans of Modi and want to see him PM of India in 2014. Only Mr. Modi has 56 inches Chest to remove stani terrorism from India, if he Will be PM in 2014.
  5. M
    Muhammad Rafiq
    Mar 5, 2014 at 3:11 am
    I must say indian politics is very difficult and complicated. It is not easy to convince and lead Educated people. The leaders must have a big heart and should be accommodative.
  6. P
    Mar 5, 2014 at 5:41 am
    Mochi involved in riots so he did apologize but NM not involved (court acquitted him) then why should he apologize ???
  7. K
    Mar 5, 2014 at 9:56 am
    Along with this picture also publish the picture of those Kvaks burnt alive and the plight of their family.Our problem is politicalising every issue.Even after 12 years we go on digging the grave.Keep the issues alive and try to gain political milage out of this.Real muslims were living together even befor eindependence and after too.It is writers like siddique who keep the issues burning for their ort heir maniters advantage-Let us live in peace please-Let India move on
  8. K
    Mar 5, 2014 at 3:44 am
    While its a great article on Hindu Muslim Unity, it conveniently ignores the other side of the story. The reason as to why the Gujarat riots started in the first place is ignored, and Modi and Hindus are portra to be some criminals, which they are not. When the courts have ordered that Modi isn't guilty, it is always necessary to bring that up with unbacked claims?
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