At 74,Zakia Naseem Jafri struggles to walk. Yet she has been going to court and sitting through hours-long legal proceedings as she seeks justice for her husband,former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri,who was murdered during the Gulberg Society riots of 2002.
She met with failure once again on Thursday,when a court in Ahmedabad rejected her petition challenging a special investigation team (SIT) report that gave Narendra Modi a clean chit in the Gulberg Society riots.
She was in the court Thursday for the order.
I have been fighting for 11 years (including seven in the SIT and court) and the fight seems to be endless, says Zakia. But I have always been positive. I had left it on God since 2002 and He always does justice to the good.
She is fighting two battles,she says. One against the Gujarat government and Narendra Modi,and the second against the Supreme Court-appointed SIT that probed nine riot cases
and gave clean chit to Narendra Modi in the Gulberg Society massacre.
Daughter of a wealthy landlord in Khandwa,Madhya Pradesh,Zakia was married to Jafri,a lawyer hailing from Burhanpur,when he was posted as attorney in MP. When they came to Gujarat,they lived in a chawl at Chamanpura,a few metres from Gulberg Society. That home was destroyed in the 1969 riots and Gulberg Society,then under construction and now with 29 bungalows and 10 apartments,was the immediate option. The bungalow they shifted to was roofless then. Most of their neighbours in the chawl,too,moved into Gulberg,including Allahnoor Mansoori,the only man who remains among the ruins of the society today.
My mother hadnt seen even quarrels in her MP home but in Gujarat,she witnessed two riots,says her son Tanveer Jafri. The one in 1969 shook her confidence,and the second in 2002 snatched her husband but restored her confidence to fight.
Tanveer says Gulberg residents looked to the Jafri family for inspiration and believed the fight after the riots was its prerogative. Abba stood up for everyone,from fighting issues such as water connection to providing fees for someones child. He took up issues for the people in corporation,panchayats and even government. We are still fighting for several families of Gulberg.
The family says it took Zakia several months to come to terms with Ahsans death. She would be haunted by the memories of February 28,2002; she herself hiding on the upper floor and her husband dragged outside his home and cut up and set on fire.
The family recalls that when Zakia decided to lodge the complaint against Modi,she had no support,even from old friends and neighbours,until an assurance of justice was offered by Teesta Setalvads NGO. The victims then gave eyewitness accounts to the SIT and courts.
She began with a complaint in 2006 against Modi and 62 others for allegedly killing Ahsan Jafri and 68 others of Gulberg Society. This was investigated through various stages by the SIT leading to the clean chit,and then to her challenge in court.
Petitions,hearings,judgments and protests,not to mention alleged threats,constitute the life of an elderly woman who thought this stage would see her at home,content with her grandchildren. She is not complaining,though. She believes her fight would be futile if she rests even one day.