Its Election Year in Gujarat & Communal Violence Grips Eral, Gujarat

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: August 17, 2017
Reports of communal tension being fomented between two communities at Eral village in Panchmahal district allegedly led to the charring of agriculture equipment and other material at farms near the village. The village in Panchmahals district had witnessed a massacre in the 2002 riots and sporadic incidents last year too.

Communal Violence
Representation Image / Reuters

 A resident of the village located in the Kalol taluka has alleged that persons from a different community came to various farms in the early hours on Wednesday .The group allegedly set ablaze a tractor, water pumps, electric meters and wires.They also damaged water supply pipelines in farms. The victims have alleged that the incident had its roots in an altercation and a clash that had taken place last week over sexual harassment of a girl in the village.Separate offences for sexual harassment and rioting between members of different community were registered at that time.

 Deputy superintendent of police V R Bajpai said that attempts were being made to bring the two communities together.The district administration is also cooperating with the police in these efforts.

 "The village has Hindu and Muslim community members staying in close vicinity. If one looks at the incidents of trouble there, they are due to petty issues,“ Bajpai said. Last year, two incidents of rioting took place in Eral in May and June over petty reasons. In 2002, seven persons were killed and two women were raped in the village.

In 2002, Communalism Combat had reported, first hand on the violence that had racked Eral Gaon, Kalol taluka, Panchmahal district . Eye witness: Mustafa Ismailbhai, interviewed at tjr Kalol Relief Camp on March 22) 2002 had given this heart wrenching account: "Seven persons from my family have been killed. Shabana, my 18-year-old daughter, was raped in front of my wife, Madinabibi Mustafa, before being killed. Two of my sons and my wife survived. I am a driver by profession and was out when the incident happened.

My daughter Shabana, Ismail Master, Uribibi, Adambhai Ibrahimbhai (my brother-in-law), Rukaiya Adambhai (my sister), Tajoobibi and Suhanabibi were all killed. Tajoobibi’s four-year-old son’s finger was cut off. I filed an FIR at Kalol talukapolice station but even after 22 days there has been no arrest. My wife who is an eyewitness has named the accused.The deceased: Seven members of a family killed, including Shabana (18) who was raped in front of her mother, then killed. The accused: Rajubhai Vithalbhai Talati, Purshottambhai Gordhanbhai Parmar, Ganabhai Chandubhai Parmar, Bhailalbhai Maganbhai and Narendra Singh Chandulal.

On October 30, 2007, a district court at Godhra sentenced eight persons to life imprisonment and three others to various prison terms while acquitting 29 persons in the 2002 Eral rape and mass killing case. Seven persons were killed in this post-Godhra riot incident, with three of the woman being raped by the mob before they were murdered.

While the acquitted heaved a sigh of relief when the judgment was passed, Madina Sheikh, eyewitness and complainant, said she was unhappy with the acquittals and quantum of punishment and said the guilty should have been sentenced to death. Simultaneously, the prosecution said they would move the High Court for a death sentence.

This was then, the first 2002 riot conviction in Panchmahals, which witnessed large-scale tarheted communal violence. 61 persons, all Muslims being targeted in two tempos (the infamous Kidiad massacre) resulted in no justice for the survivors. Similarly, the Pandharwada case wherein 42 persons were targeted and killed in a village had seen no convictions of powerful perpetrators.

In Eral, the Muslim community had, in 2007, cheered the convictions even as they said the punishment was not strong enough. Speaking to The Indian Express, at the time Madina had said: "We identified 40 of those who massacred my family and only 11 were convicted, and only life imprisonments at that. All those men were guilty and deserved the death penalty." She said she had spoken to the prosecution and they would appeal to the High Court about increasing the punishment.

Defence counsel Rajendra Trivedi said they would also move the High Court against the sentences. Trivedi said, "As many as 29 of the 40 suspects were acquitted of various charges, which is a good thing. We will move the High Court about the 11 others." 

Panchmahals Joint District Judge H M Dholakia sentenced main accused Chandrasinh Parmar alias Kahabhai Dada, a former panchayat president of Kalol, to life imprisonment along with former village sarpanch Ganpathsinh Parmar, Ashok Parmar, Mahendrasinh Parmar and Dalsinh Parmar for murder. Dholakia also found three others, Narendra Parmar, Mahesh Chandrasinh and Kanu Bharat guilty of rape and murder, including that of 17-year-old Shabana Sheikh, Madina's daughter. Vinodbhai Vadad, Raju Parmar and Bhailal Maganbhai were sentenced to three years in prison on charges of rioting and let off on bail.