For 10 long years,Yusuf Sheikh,who saw 11 of his loved ones being slaughtered,fought for justice without fear.
On Monday,when the verdict came,he does not know what to say. I have not lost,but I have not won either, he says,emerging from Mehsana district court.
Yusuf (47),a small pan shop owner,bore the brunt of the attack by rioters. At one go,he lost his mother,wife,children and brother. Among the dead was his nephew,a toddler hardly one-and-a-half-years old when he was killed.
After the 2002 massacre,Yusuf left Dipda Darwaja and built a house a few metres away from the Visnagar resettlement colony. Haunted by the memories of that fateful day,Yusuf became a recluse. Things,however,turned when he married Khureshabanu a year later in 2003.
It was my responsibility to handle him and I am happy I could do it, says Khureshabanu,now 40.
Khureshabanu was a young widow living in Prantij village of Sabarkantha when her family members came with a proposal of her marriage with Yusuf. She agreed within eight days of meeting him.
Yusuf could hardly talk or sit at one place properly. He would remain so disturbed that while offering daily namaaz,he would break into tears. He used to miss his children and wife a lot. When I met him first,I thought he had no motivation to live,but now I am happy to see him setting up his business again, says Khureshabanu.
Yusuf and Khureshabanu have no children of their own. They raised Yusufs brother Yakubs daughter Shabnoor,who recently married.
We were poor Muslims happy with little money we earned by working in shops at Dipda. We had no ambitions of expanding businesses or joining village panchayat. We had no big dreams but the riots snatched away even the little dreams we had, says Yusuf,who still shudders to recall what happened on February 28,2012.
As I tried to save my wife,my daughter was cut into pieces. When I tried to save my son,rioters dragged my mother outside,pulling her by hair. I couldnt do anything. When Yakub (brother) was shouting with pain,I was hiding near a small loft in my house after giving up on attempts to save my family, he says.
The most painful memory he has is of how his mother Zainabibi was killed. My mother was alive and recuperating in hospital. The mob dragged her out,pushed her from the balcony. When she didnt die even then,she was dragged up and pushed down again, says Yusuf. Even demons (if they exist) wouldnt have killed humans like this.
So shattered Yusuf was after the death of his mother that he was not in a position to file a police complaint. The job was done by his old friends son Iqbal Baloch.
His wife says that even now he has not been able to overcome the grief altogether. He likes to write. He often sits at his table and scribbles what he feels. I have hardly seen him smiling, Khureshabanu says.
With no ancestral property or children around to take care of him,Yusuf says,All that I had is lost. All what I have now is this short life and my wife who is around to help me in this battle further. I am upset but I will not sit quietly.