13 May, 2021

Hell Holes

Gujarat’s Muslim riot victims can’t even dream of closure

Jitender Gupta
Hell Holes

Saira Salim Sandhi walks around amidst the charred ruins and wild outgrowth of what used to be a vibrant Muslim housing society on the outer ridges of Ahmedabad. Draped in a yellow printed sari, worn Gujarati style, pallu drawn over her head, she makes her way into the shell of a burnt bungalow, and proceeds to an inner room instinctively when someone asks for a dhurrie to sit on. Then it hits home again. Everything she had was gone in that one barbaric afternoon, February 28, 2002. Her family, yes, and also all the little objects of home, the signs of placid domesticity, that she could remember from that life, things like a dhurrie in that inner room. Unable to stop herself, she touches a blackened wall and breaks into uncontrollable sobs.

It’s a surreal moment—this was her home, it’s still hers, but it’s not home anymore. She wants closure; it will happen when she has been delivered justice, she says. Tears stream down her face. Words tumble out, words of old anguish and new insults. “This sadbhavana fast...

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