United in grief, hundreds of survivors of one of the country's worst communal riots in Gujarat gathered today to mark the 10th anniversary of the Godhra train attack that sparked the carnage amid fresh pleas for justice for the riot victims.
Security was stepped up in the state capital and Godhra town, about 160 km from here, as families of the victims of the train attack and the resultant riots try to erase the scars of the deadly violence unleashed on men, women and children.
The units of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) were ordered to be on alert in the event of any emergency, police sources in Ahmedabad said.
Fifty-nine people lost their lives after the Sabarmati express train, mainly carrying kar sevaks returning home from Ayodhya, was torched just outside Godhra railway station. The large-scale communal violence that soon hit many parts of Gujarat in 2002 killed 1,200 people, mostly Muslims.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) organised prayer ceremonies in Ahmedabad and in Godhra in memory of the victims of the train carnage most of whom were in S-6 coach, while families of the post-Godhra riot victims and survivors assembled in several cities and towns across the state seeking justice.
The focal point of the prayer meetings by survivors of the post-Godhra riots was at the Gulberg Housing Society at Chamanpura area in Ahmedabad where ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed by marauding mobs along with 68 others.
Victims of riots at places such as Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gam, Sardarpura and Ode also gathered at the Gulburg society where verses from the holy Quran were read.
Some hung prayers and wishes, written on little pieces of cloth on the branches of a tree named 'Tree of Hope'.
Ehsan's wife Zakia and his son Tanveer were also present.
"It is an unforgettable memory of my life," said an emotional Zakia, who now lives with her son in Surat.
Around 45 NGOs joined hands to commence a 10-day event 'Insaf ki dagar par', that would focus on the 2002 riots and the subsequent pursuit of justice for victims.
The riots continue to haunt chief minister Narendra Modi with activists accusing him, his cabinet colleagues and other government functionaries of deliberate inaction in containing the damage.