Youth’s death in firing incited rioters

The massacre in Ode village of Anand district on March 1-2, 2002 was triggered by the death of a boy who was shot when police opened fire to control the rampaging mob which was attacking the properties of those living in the Muslim-dominated Suriwali Bhagol locality of the village.

According to Special Public Prosecutor in the case P N Parmar, around eight policemen were present in the village when the violence began. To control the rioters, the policemen first fired tear gas shells. Later, they opened fire in which the young boy, Nishith, was shot at. Following the incident, the mob dispersed and resorted to scattered attacks on Muslims in the village.

One Rafique Mohammed Khalifa, who later became a complainant in the case, was attacked while he was being taken to the Khambholaj Police Station under protection to register an FIR. Khalifa's house at Suriwali Bhagol was also attacked by the mob.

It was only when Nishith succumbed to his bullet wounds hours later that the mob turned bigger and more violent. Two policemen were badly beaten up after which the rest fled the village.

Around 4 pm on March 1, the mob attacked residences of Muslim at Pirawali Bhagol.

When the families took shelter in a three-storied building, the mob locked its doors from outside and set it on fire by throwing in pouches filled with petrol and kerosene. A total of 23 persons were burnt to death inside the house. The mayhem continued for around two hours. Some in the building, however, managed to escape and later turned eye-witnesses.

Around 10 am on March 2, villagers took out a funeral procession of Nishith. After the funeral, they gathered together and torched the vehicles belonging to Muslims. An 80-year-old Gulam Rasool Saiyed, who had come out to give fodder to his goats, was caught by the mob and thrown into the fire. He was burnt alive.

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