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Born Muslim, raised Hindu

Every day for six years, Mohammed Salim Sheikh and his wife mourned the loss of their two-year-old son Muzaffar, who went missing during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Now they have found him but the boy refuses to return to biological parents. Rathin Das reports.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2008 01:09 IST
Rathin Das

Every day for six years, Mohammed Salim Sheikh and his wife mourned the loss of their two-year-old son Muzaffar, missing since a deadly mob attack ruined their home and life during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Last year, they found him.

But Muzaffar had now become Vivek, 7, son of Hindu fish-seller Vikram Patni, a childless man who cared for him since – and with whom the boy wants to stay rather than his biological parents. A court battle followed. On Wednesday, a court declared he would continue to live with the Patni family.

“I’ll move High Court. This isn’t the end,” said Sheikh. Muzaffar – or Vivek – clung frightened to the arms of his fleeing parents on February 28, 2002 as thousands of rioters raided Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society, in a six-hour carnage that also killed former MP Ehsan Jaffrey, who had sheltered them.

In the melee, Muzaffar was lost. He was rescued by a constable, who took him to his cousin and his wife Veena.

The Sheikhs presumed he was dead, and grieved. Last year, voluntary group Citizens For Peace traced Muzaffar. “What the constable did was wrong,” said the organisation’s secretary Teesta Setalvad. “He should have checked the missing persons’ list at the police station and searched for the parents.”

But Veena – Vikram had since died — refused to hand over the boy. A DNA test last month confirmed the Sheikhs were the biological parents. They moved court. On Wednesday, they lost their son all over again.