It was a photograph; of a young man who was crying and pleading for his life with folded hands. It was a photograph that questioned the conscience of a nation.
In 2002, the face of Qutubuddin Ansari became the face of riot stricken Gujrat. One newspaper photograph left an impact on millions as it continued to be printed and circulated till Ansari became a household name from Kashmir to Kanyamukari. Hounded by the malevolent consequences of the Godhra riots for almost two years, Ansari shifted his base to the Park Circus area in Kolkata. The city, it now appears, offered him the safest refuge.
The photograph that defined the nightmare in Gujrat unfortunately turned into a curse. It exposed Ansari’s identity and forced him to live in fear for several years.
Ansari, a tailor, first went to Mumbai with his wife and two children in search of a new home. But, with his identity revealed, he started having problem in his personal as well as professional life. Even shifting to his sister’s home at Malegaon in Maharashtra did not make things easy for Ansari.
After he had roamed around in different parts of the country, Ansari was helped by an NGO and the erstwhile Left Front government to settle down in Kolkata.
Ansari told the media how the 11 members of his family in Ahmedabad became vulnerable after his identity became public. So, when he left for Kolkata, he kept it a secret. The NGO that helped Ansari shift his base to the city collected more than R 25000 to help him.
The Bengal government gave Ansari a house to stay and also helped him set up a tailoring shop. But unfortunately, many of his customers came to him because of his sufferings. Also, the media attention had made his life difficult. Ansari could never get over his aversion for the media. In 2004 Ansari returned to Ahmedabad to visit his ailing mother, Bismillabano, a cardiac patient. He decided to stay back and start afresh.