'We fought the mob with stones for four hours'
An otherwise soft-spoken Anwar Miya Malik cannot stop himself from using expletives when referring to the mob that massacred 17 members of his family in Anand district's Ode town on March 1, 2002.
Malik's family members were among the 23 persons killed in a riot in the Piruwali Bhagol area of Ode. The victims, in an attempt to escape the mob that had surrounded their locality, had sought refuge in a house which was later gutted down by the mob.
"We fought the mob with stones for four hours," said Malik, a tobacco farmer who lived in one of the 265 Muslim homes in Ode. "Our houses were burnt. Even three months after the incident they continued to loot whatever was left of our belongings."
This village of tobacco and banana farmers also has a co-operative dairy and small scale industries like pultry farms and saw mills.
Some of the survivors have returned to their land in Ode and continue to live in small brick houses.
Malik, however, lives in a shed on his field a few kilometres away. His children walk five kilometres to attend the nearest schools. He complained that after 2002, he cannot even draw water from tubewells belonging to the other community and his field relies completely on rain water now.
In May 2008, the SIT carried out an excavation of the house in which the victims were allegedly burnt and in two wells in the village to search for remains of the victims. Some bones were found and given for testing but Malik said he is not aware of what the reports said.
The SIT is investigating two separate cases in Ode. Apart from the Piruwali Baghol case, it is also looking at a case of rioting in nearby Suryali Baghol in which four persons were killed. "The police first clubbed the two cases together but we fought to get our case registered separately because the incidents happened on two different dates," said Malik.
The twist in the case came with some of the accused having escaped to the United States of America and the United Kingdom. "We want the SIT to take the remand of the accused and find out where they dumped the remains of our family," said Mali. "We want to give our people an Islamic burial."
Anatomy of a massacre
When: March 1 and March 2, 2002
What happened on March 1, 2002, a mob attacked Muslim houses in Piruwali Bhagol area in Ode. The residents fought the mob with stones. Women, children and senior citizens decided to seek refuge in a house but the mob toched the house killing 23 of them.
In another incident in nearby Suryali Bhagol, four persons were killed by a mob. Some of the accused in the Ode case have reportedly fled to the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
In May 2008, the SIT conducted a search of the burnt house and two wells in Ode where remains of the victims were feared to have been dumped. 95 persons were arrested All on bail 7 are absconding.