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09 November 2011

Gujarat 2002 riots witnesses frightened, fear threat to lives after RTI activist Nadeem Saiyed’s killing

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By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: After killing of RTI activist Nadeem Saiyed on last Saturday, it looks that witnesses of 2002 riots are now very much frightned and perhaps legal battle to punish the guilty will be wayward in coming months.

Soon after RTI activist Nadeem Saiyed was stabbed to death in broad daylight on Saturday morning, the immediate theory that came floating was that he could have been killed by those whose illegal cow slaughter business Nadeem had exposed.

But at the same time, it was not ruled out that he could have paid the price with his life as he was a key witness in the 2002 Naroda-Patiya riot case. People associated with the riot cases suspect that Nadeem was eliminated to send out a warning message to other riot witnesses.

In his own case, Nadeem had been threatened in July this year by Kalupur don Mehboob Senior to withdraw himself from Naroda-Patiya case. The slain activist had even filed a complaint at Gujarat University police station.

Imtiyaz Kureshi, a witness in Naroda Gam case, was once threatened by one Dr Prahlad Parmar, who had claimed that he was the right-hand man of suspended and jailed IPS officer DG Vanzara. “Parmarhad approached me as I ran a printing business. When he called me to his clinic for paying me the bill for the work I had done for him, he first tried to lure me with money for not giving deposition in the court. When I refused to do so, he threatened me and said that he managed all money of DG Vanzara and if I did not obey his words, I will have to face dire consequences,” Kureshi said.

Kureshi had also filed a police complaint on September 26, 2009 against the doctor for threatening him. But according to him, there was no significant development in the case.

Similarly, Salim Sheikh, a witness in Naroda-Patiya case, had to face harassment. Sheikh had filed anapplication in the SIT. “Relatives of the accused had filed a wrong police complaint against me and put pressure on my brother Sattar, also a witness. However, in the court proceedings, I was proven innocent,” he said.

Sheikh has been provided police protection, but only for 10 hours.“As per the Supreme Court order, the witnesses should be given 24-hour police protection, but my family has been given police protection only for 10 hours. If Nadeembhai had policemen with him, he wouldn’t have been killed. I am also facing threat to life.

One day, a policeman who was deployed for my security said that enmity with police would prove costly for me, as SIT would not last long. I filed a police complaint against that constable,” he said.

Jan Sangharsh Manch founder and advocate Mukul Sinha, who is representing the riot victims in court, said the manner in which Nadeem was killed sent out a message to other witnesses. “He was killeddespite having police protection. This gives out a message that if Nadeem can meet with this fate, others too can be treated like this,” said Sinha.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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