Decade later, Ode struggles to move on
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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 haven't 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 Sadaru Khan Pathan, BJP's minority cell president.
Victims welcome verdict
The victims of Ode massacre have hailed the judgment saying that the conviction of 23 accused have brought the justice they have been seeking for past 10 years. Mujid M Malek who had lost 16 members of his family at Pirawali Bhagol, said he was satisfied with the verdict. Firozkhan Pathan, 46, had settled back in Ode town three years back. His house is located at Pirawali Bhagol where 23 people were burnt alive. He also said with this verdict he believes such incidents will not be repeated. Hailing the verdict, Rafiq Khalifa, the complainant, said the judgment is a lesson for every community.