Every other day, baker Abdul Hannan takes groups of curious Muslims on a tour of Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society as if it were another mausoleum. Hannan hates it, but visitors insist he lead them down memory lane.
The lane inside this neighbourhood is literally a cul-de-sac. At one end, Ehsan Jafri’s remains lie buried in what is a small mound, in front of his charred house. On February 28, 2002, a mob allegedly hacked 38 residents of the society to death, including Jafri, and dumped the bodies into a fire.
“People come to just gaze at Jafri’s house in silence,” said Hannan, who also doubles up as the imam of the burnt Gulbarg Society mosque.
Hannan said Muslims transiting the city often come inquiring about Jafri’s house discreetly. “They either get in touch with local mosques or with the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind office, which lead them to me,” he said.
Almost a week after the rioters cleaned Gulbarg Society of all signs of life, 42-year-old Maulana Hakimuddin, accompanied by a Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind team, reached the plundered Muslim neighbourhood on the morning of March 6.
Hakimuddin was rushed urgently to bury those killed, including Jafri, as required by religious norms. Hakimuddin, who is now the national general secretary of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, wants a mausoleum built where Jafri’s empty house stands.
But he said, “Many Muslims want a mausoleum built. They know permission will not be granted.”