A huge gate welcomes visitors to Ode,some 25 km from Anand. This was built by a Patel family based in the US in the memory of one Sonaben Jayeshbhai Patel in 2007. It says,Shrimati Shantaben Dhirubhai Jayeshbhai (USA) na parivaar tarafthi Ode nagarpalika ne arpan (dedicated to Ode nagarpalika by the family of Shrimati Shantaben Dhirubhai Jayeshbhai).
The town was under heavy security bandobast with the deployment of about 100 local police personnel besides paramilitary forces. On Sunday,a peace committee,comprising members from both Hindu and Muslim communities,had decided to not overreact to the verdict. When the special court announced 23 guilty in the case in what is known as Ode Massacre,there was silence on the streets.
According to Gopalsinh Raulji,former president of Ode municipality,a post now occupied by his wife,the peace committee had decided that there will not be any procession or celebration from the either side (accused and victims). He said Ode has come far ahead of what happened 10 years back and is trying to move on. He said soon after 2002 several Muslim families who had run away fearing for life,have started coming back. However,majority of them are still away.
About 40 Muslim families who migrated from the village in the aftermath of the riots havent come yet. There is no fear at present in the village but they have been refusing the idea of coming back to their roots, said Sadarukhan Pathan,BJPs minority cell president.
The schools and morning bazaar were opened as usual amidst tight security. There were about 100 cops deployed at all sensitive places where the riots had taken place 10 years back including Pirwali Bhagol,Suriwali bhagol,Malav Bhagol among others.
According to Rauljis estimation,Ode had about 260 houses of Muslims in 2002 while at present there are more than 200. Among Hindus there are Patels,Darbars and Thakors. Though Thakors dominate the population,Patels are the most influential. Incidentally,all the convicts in Ode Massacre are also Patels.
Interestingly,Pathan and Rauljis friendship precedes the riots. Raulji says during riots he couldnt help Pathan and his community yet their relationship remained intact. In fact,he said,he made Pathan his vice-president in Ode municipality despite the fact that several (Hindu) members were against this.