‘Patiyawalas’ move on but ghastly memory still lingers

Np

Most people at Naroda Patiya continue to live in the same place that holds ghastly memories of February 28, 2002. But they live a far better life now with a wider road passing by and now a BRTS connecting what was a scene of one of Gujarat's goriest crimes of 2002.

Today, life runs at a fast space there, trying to catch up with the rest in the city. They have small shops but no regular income. A house rebuilt on the same land but no more chocking drains and bad road. Men and women both work to earn a decent living. The children do go to schools but cannot afford a better education.

However, the residents are happy. They feel proud of being the lone fighters from Patiya and proudly enjoy being called 'Patiyawalas'.

It was easy for them to have returned to their native places in Karnataka and Maharashtra from where they migrated 30 to 50 years ago to work in one-time booming textile mills of Ahmedabad, but they held on.

The victims of Patiya have become more self-reliant after riots. However for everything, as they mutually believe, there is a price to pay.

Nasir Khan Pathan, principal of a small school `Iqra' inside Patiya, has been teaching Mathematics and Science to children for the last 20 years. He saw it all and probably the worst — eight rapes during riots — and it was not easy to forget.

"We have fought relentlessly; never gave up. We lived at the same place — rebuilt our houses and future," he says.

He adds, "(Maya) Kodnani is a scar on the Narendra Modi government who being a woman also had no mercy for women and children. I think she enjoyed seeing women being raped and murdered on streets openly. If an MLA cannot protect his people, he should at least not kill them."

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