In Godhra, mother of four convicts prays for Modi’s defeat

It is not difficult to chance upon Muslim auto drivers and shopkeepers spilling anger and alleging frame-ups by police.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | Godhra | Updated: May 14, 2014 12:19 am

Sugra Bibi, 80, lives alone, in a single room, barely ten-by-ten, off the main road near Godhra railway station. Too frail to move around, she depends on neighbours to check on her once in a while and steps out only occasionally to sell toffees. This has been her life since 2002.

Of late, people have been telling her the Gujarat chief minister is going to be PM. She has been hoping it isn’t true. Her health did not permit her to go out to vote.

“I know he will go to the deepest hell. It’s a mother’s curse,” Sugra says, struggling to speak because of stiffness in her chest and back.

Sugra’s four sons — Siddique, Bilal, Anif, and Shauqat — are serving life terms as key accused in the February 2002 Godhra train fire that killed 59 passengers. Her “mother’s heart” believes they are innocent. “They were out and about doing their jobs. How could they be guilty?” she asks.

Today, three of her sons are in their 40s while Bilal, the eldest, is 55. They have children, while their wives work in people’s houses as help. Sugra’s husband had died long before the incident happened and she depended on her four sons.

She gets to see her grandsons every couple of weeks while her visits to the Vadodara jail have become less and less frequent. “I may be old, but I pray five times a day for my sons’ release and for Narendra Modi to get punished,” she says.

Families of the accused and even co-accused who got acquitted wait for May 16 with trepidation. “He (Modi) cannot become PM. Where are the numbers? God cannot be so unfair,” says Inayaat Abdul Sattar, 70, who was working as a senior clerk at the Godhra office of the irrigation department when he was picked up as a suspect. He was due to retire the following year. He claimed he had been on duty when the crime happened, and it took a legal battle of nine years before he got acquitted in 2011. The government refused to give him his post-retirement dues of over Rs 3 lakh and he is still fighting for that.

His part of the town is in the middle of a power cut. Garbage overflows on open roads with hardly any sign of a drainage system. “Other parts of Godhra are no different but this part is the worst,” he says. This area around the station is dominated by Muslims, who constitute around 13 per cent of the population. “The Gujarat development model that Modi seems to be selling everywhere is exposed here,” he says.

After the train burning, a railway staff colony for groups C and D workers next to the station was removed because of a “threat perception”, a high wall erected to cut the station compound from the road facing the largely Muslim-dominated areas, and an old main gate sealed to limit access from one side of the station. It is not difficult to chance upon Muslim auto drivers and shopkeepers spilling anger and alleging frame-ups by police. Over the years, there have been some acquittals.

“After Modi becomes PM, Godhra and the subsequent riots will cease to matter for the rest of the country, I guess,” says Aziz, owner of a local cold drinks shop.

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  1. K
    Kumarpushp
    May 14, 2014 at 6:58 am
    Modi is CM in Gujrat that why he manited in Gujrat Maharsthra Hindu government did not accept the Krishna reports where RSS Goons were named who murdered the innocent muslims
    Reply
  2. A
    Anil Kumar
    May 14, 2014 at 7:02 am
    A SAYING IN ENGLISH GOES LIKE THIS WHAT YOU SOW YOU REAP.. WHAT EVER PEOPLE WRITE ABOUT MODI IT IS HIM THE ALMIGHTY WHO IS GONG TO DO WHAT HE WANTS TO.THE ALMIGHTY IS THE MOST POWER FUL.JUST BECAUSE THE OLD FRAIL LADY CURSES THE TRUTH WILL NOT BECOME FALSE.THE ALCHEMIST IS IN PLAY IN INDIA THIS MOMENT.PEOPLE DOING WRONG THINGS LIKE THE CORRUPT POLITICIANS WILL BE MADE TO SUFFER HOW EVER STRONG HE OR SHE MIGHT BE.THE SAME GOES FOR ALLTHE GOOD INDIANS IRRESPECTIVE OF COMMUNITY GOD BLEES WILL BLESS THE GOOD PEOPLE
    Reply
  3. L
    Lalit
    May 14, 2014 at 6:31 am
    what makes you feel that the four convicts who are serving life sentence have not been given a fair deal ?being the sons of the same mother is no ground for leniency.they were not awarded a sentence by Modi,but by a court.there are scores of Muslim convicts for terror activities in Tihar ,UP,Maharastra etc.are they all there due to Modi ?what should be done for such families ? award pensions to them ? Mothers of all culprits have same feelings for the law enforcing agencies.i am yet to see a Mother who agrees that her offspring can commit any crime.
    Reply
  4. V
    vikky
    May 14, 2014 at 6:56 am
    "don't play with fire or don't crib about getting burnt, when a large numbers of members of any community engage in disruptive behaviour, collateral damage is imminent " wiser words couldn't have been said .. think about it !!!
    Reply
  5. K
    Kolsat
    May 15, 2014 at 3:49 am
    Like you I am also sorry for this woman. However she should be told that her sons did something wrong at the behest of some mulla or an imam and so they should do time in prison. They could have refused but once one is filled with hatred one does not see reason or the consequences of ones actions. Blame those jihadists who conned these four s to get involved in burning and killing not worrying about what will happen to their poor old mother in their absence.
    Reply
  6. R
    Ramesh
    May 14, 2014 at 8:38 am
    Who burnt the poor women and children in the train?? Modi??? Criminals must be punished.
    Reply
  7. B
    biharibabu
    May 15, 2014 at 3:52 am
    GOD BLESS INDIA from the sins of muderer modi n his accomplice amit shah
    Reply
  8. J
    Jay
    May 14, 2014 at 10:49 am
    Do you think those accountable who never acted but fueled and fanned the conflict were lesser criminals?
    Reply
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