‘Woh insaan nahin the... jalladon ko bhi thodi sharam aa gayi hoti’
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One of the goriest reports that emerged from Naroda Patiya after the riots was of a young nine-month pregnant woman's stomach being slit open, the foetus pulled out, and the woman set on fire. Kausar Bano was found lying half-burnt and naked outside her house.
As 32 were convicted for the Naroda Patiya killings today, her husband Firoz broke his silence of 10 years. "My wife who was nine months pregnant was raped, cut and burnt. It was my biggest failure that I couldn't save her. I have never spoken to anyone about her after her death," he said.
"Jisne uska balaatkar kiya woh insaan nahin the. Jalladon ko bhi thodi sharam aa gayi hoti, lekin inko nahin aayi (Those who raped her were not human. Even executioners would have felt ashamed, they didn't)."
Firoz, an autorickshaw driver, cut off ties with old friends and relatives at Naroda Patiya after the incident and now lives a quiet life at Vatva. Remarried, he has three children with his new wife.
It was just a year before the riots that Firoz and 22-year-old Hina Kausar alias Kausar Bano had got married at their native place in Karnataka. Firoz used to work as a labourer in a factory in Patiya's neighbourhood.
On the afternoon of February 28, 2002, he was on his way home for lunch, but couldn't enter the narrow bylane of Naroda Patiya as it was blocked by over 600-700 rioters near the Noorani Masjid.
"Some men were running out screaming 'riots'. I saw the Noorani Masjid burning. I froze that moment... did not know what to do. I just wanted to save Hina as I knew she couldn't run from there. Three-four times I tried to enter, but failed... Hina did not know anything about this place, people and never picked up the local language. She was raped outside our house by men who pulled her out, pulling out her clothes in the verandah. She was totally helpless because of her pregnancy."