Fear still stalks Cassimabad | india | Hindustan Times
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Fear still stalks Cassimabad

For 45-year-old Zubeida Mohammed Ismail, the elections are important, reports Presley Thomas.

india Updated: Dec 13, 2007 00:13 IST
Presley Thomas

For 45-year-old Zubeida Mohammed Ismail, the elections are important. Zubeida wants to vote out a chief minister during whose regime she saw her son, husband and in-laws being killed by marauding mobs, while she had to escape like a hunted animal from her home in Delol, a tiny hamlet in Panchmahals district. “Only then perhaps the scars might heal,” said Zubeida. She now lives in a house given to her by a relief committee in the Cassimabad society in Kalol town.

Zubeida’s husband, a tailor, worked in Saudi Arabia, but was on a three-month break when the mob struck on March 1, 2002, days after the burning of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. Her son Farokh had recently married and was expecting his first child.

Similar are the stories of Ruksana Sattar, Rahima Yakub, Sultana Feroze, Salma Idris and many more, all widows living in the Cassimbad or Halol housing societies in Kalol. More than 300 riot-affected families have been relocated here.

They cannot go back to the lands they once owned. Many work as labourers in others fields, earning Rs 25 a day. “Our land has been usurped by those who were once our friends and neighbours,” said Sultana Feroze. “They give us half the harvest from our fields if they want to. We are too scared to go back to Delol.”

Not only the BJP, but even the Congress, has cold-shouldered them. “We never expected the BJP to help, but neither have Congress workers ever visited us,” said 28-year-old Salma Idris.

They do not even know the name of the Congress candidate from Kalol, Rajendrasinh Jadhav. The BJP candidate Arvindsinh Rathod’s name, too, draws blank stares.

Even though they expect no help, they are clear about who to vote for. “Whether we get any help or not is secondary,” said Rahima Yakub. “The main point is we don’t want to live under the regime of a person who continuously instills fear in our heart through his speeches. We don’t want to live on the edge for all our lives.”