Gulbarg Society massacre

Coordinates: 23°2′52″N 72°36′49″E / 23.04778°N 72.61361°E / 23.04778; 72.61361
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gulbarg Society massacre
Part of 2002 Gujarat riots
Burnt house of Gulbarg Society after the massacre
LocationAhmedabad, Gujarat, India
Date28 February 2002
Attack type
Genocide and ethnic cleansing
Deaths69 deaths

The Gulbarg Society massacre took place on 28 February 2002, during the 2002 Gujarat riots, when a crowd started stone pelting the Gulbarg Society, a Muslim neighbourhood in the eastern part of Chamanpura, Ahmedabad in the Indian state of Gujarat. Most of the houses were burnt, and at least 35 victims, including a former Congress Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Ehsan Jafri, were burnt alive, while 31 others went missing after the incident, later presumed dead, bringing the total deaths to 69.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Supreme Court of India had stayed the trial in major Gujarat cases on petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Citizens for Justice and Peace, who sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and transfer of the cases outside Gujarat. The SC bench on 26 March 2008, directed[6] the Gujarat government to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by R. K. Raghavan, a former head of the CBI in the case. It reopened nine crucial riot cases. Seven years after the incident, in February 2009, Erda, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) with the Gujarat Police at the time was arrested on charges of dereliction of duty and for tampering with evidence, as some survivors alleged that he not only allowed the killings to happen but also helped rioters to burn the dead bodies.[7] The SIT finally submitted its report on 14 May 2010 to the apex court registry of the Supreme Court, after which the Supreme Court asked the SIT to look into the doubts raised by amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran.[2][8][9] SIT submitted its entire report including case papers, witnesses' testimonies and other details on 15 March 2012.[10][11][12] On 17 June 2016, eleven people convicted of murder in the Gulbarg Society massacre were sentenced to life in jail by a special SIT court.[13]

The Society, with most of the houses damaged or burnt, were later abandoned. Of the eighteen houses which were burnt, only one has been repaired. Although none of the families returned, some of them congregate each year on the anniversary of the event and offer prayers.[14][15]


At 9 am on 28 February 2002, a day after the 2002 Gujarat riots had begun, a mob shouting slogans gathered outside the Gulbarg Society in the Hindu-dominated[16] Chamanpura area of Ahmedabad. The Society comprised 29 bungalows and 10 apartment buildings, housing mostly Muslim upper-middle-class business families. Many of the residents reacted to the presence of the mob by taking refuge in the home of a former Congress MP, Ehsan Jafri. It was claimed that Jafri unsuccessfully made repeated attempts to contact the police by telephone. He even called and spoke to the chief of police and chief minister for help. By noon, the mob had turned violent, breached the boundary wall and started to set fire to houses and attack residents. 69 people died during the following six hours and at least a further 85 were injured. Among the dead was Ehsan Jafri, who was hacked to death and later burnt, while at least another 35 people were either hacked to death or burned alive.[1][5][17][18][19]


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said in June 2002, that it was "deeply disturbed by recent press reports stating that the chargesheets filed thus far in respect of the Gulbarg Society and Naroda Patiya incidents lack credibility in as much as they are reported to depict the victims of violence as the provocateurs."[20] NHRC had previously recommended that cases like Best Bakery case, Gulbarg Society case, the Naroda Patiya incident and the Sardarpura case in Mehsana district be handed over to CBI.[21]

The Supreme Court, on 26 March 2008, ordered the Narendra Modi government to re-investigate ten cases in the 2002 Gujarat riots, including the Godhra train burning and subsequent Godhra riots, where 81 people were killed, Gulbarg Society where 68 were killed, Naroda Patia where over 100 were killed, Sardarpur where 34 were killed and Best Bakery case where 14 people were burnt alive.[22] Zakiya Jafri, wife of Ehsan Jafri, who was burnt alive on the day, first made the complaint on 8 June 2006 alleging that the police had not registered the FIRs against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and 62 others including several ministers and alleging a conspiracy to allow the massacre of Muslims, which involved instructing policemen and bureaucrats not to respond to pleas for help from Muslims being attacked during the riots. The complaint included Vishva Hindu Parishad leaders Praveen Togadia and Jaideep Patel, Director General of Police (DGP) of the state PC Pande for abetting the riots. She then approached the Gujarat High Court with her complaint, which on 3 November 2007, refused to entertain her plea, and instead asked her to present the case before magistrate's court. Subsequently, she approached the Supreme Court of India, which on 27 April 2009 appointed a five-member SIT headed by R. K. Raghavan, a former head of the CBI, to investigate into these cases, and asked the SIT to look into her complaint of alleged collusion of the state machinery and the rioters over the two days of Gujarat riots.[23]

In March 2009, Indian National Congress leader Meghsingh Chaudhary at the instance of SIT was arrested for active participation in the Gulbarg Society massacre.[24] It alleged that he was a part of the armed mob, egging them on to kill the Muslims, along with others.[25] Then in March 2010, SIT summoned Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to give an explanation regarding accusations against him in the murder of Ehsan Jaffri, who was burnt alive, along with nearly 70 other people in the Gulbarg Society. He appeared before the SIT on 27 Mar 2010. Earlier, R B Sreekumar, who was Additional Director General of Intelligence at the time, deposed before a commission that ministers and police were "deliberately inactive during the riots" and two eyewitnesses Roopa Modi and Imtiyaz Pathan testified against Modi in the trial court. Imtiaz who lost six members of his family during the massacre, was the one to give the first eyewitness account in the trial which started in September 2009, after being held up for 7 years. He told the court that when a mob started gathering outside Gulbarg Society on 28 February, MP Jafri called Chief Minister Narendra Modi for help, yet the police refused to come for help. He identified 20 of the 100 accused, arrested in the case.[17][26][27] In all, the eyewitness who appeared before the SIT in December 2009, namely, Imtiyaz Pathan, Saeedkhan Pathan, Roopa Mody, Saira Sandhi and Rafiq Pathan named joint commissioner of police MK Tandon and Meghaninagar police inspector ND Parmar, Manish Patel alias Splendor, Mahendra Pukhraj, Jagroopsinh Rajput, Inio Harijan, Babu Marwadi and Rajesh Jinger, a constable residing in the same area, as accused.[28]

In March 2010, the Gulbarg Society case trial was stayed by the Supreme Court after the special public prosecutor R K Shah resigned after accusing the trial judge and SIT of being "soft on the accused". He alleged that, "The SIT officers are unsympathetic towards witnesses, they try to browbeat them and don't share evidence with the prosecution as they are supposed to do."[29] Later, activist Teesta Setalvad in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court on 24 April 2010, showed the phone record analysis which indicated that "Ahmedabad police commissioner P C Pande had spoken to Joint Commissioner of Police M K Tandon six times during the period when the latter was present at Gulbarg Society and the mob was growing restive. Though Tandon was accompanied by "striking force" equipped to disperse a riotous mob, he left Gulbarg Society without taking any corrective action and his departure led to the massacre ...".[30]

On 14 May 2010, the SIT submitted a report under sealed cover. Prior to this, the SIT had requested additional time to report as it wanted to question VHP International president, Praveen Togadia, which it did on 11 May 2010.[2][9]

On 15 December 2010, Zakia Jafri and other victims filed an application with the Supreme Court, requesting it to direct SIT to submit the report before the Ahmedabad court as ordered by the SC, within 30 days.[31] Thereafter on 8 February 2012, SIT submitted its final report to a Gujarat magistrate's court, which after evaluating it would decide whether further investigation was required or not.[32]

In its closure report filed in the Zakia Jafri case, the SIT submitted that Jafri was killed because he provoked a "violent mob" that had assembled "to take revenge of Godhra incident from the Muslims". It further submitted that Jafri fired at the mob and "the provoked mob stormed the society and set it on fire."[33][34][35]

Sting operation[edit]

In October 2007, the Aaj Tak News Channel showed footage of a sting operation carried out by Tehelka magazine, wherein 14 VHP or Bajrang Dal activists, including, Madan Chawal, a Gulbarg Society massacre accused, and a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Godhra, Haresh Bhatt who was national vice-president of Bajrang Dal during the riots, were shown talking about the execution of the killings .[36][37] The investigative journalists' reports were finally published in the 3 November 2007 issue of Tehelka as The Truth: Gujarat 2002 – Tehelka report.[citation needed]

On 18 June 2016, Special court junked the evidence provided by investigative journalist with the observation that the entire transcript was not tendered before the probe agency or the court.[38]

Allegations against Narendra Modi and SIT report[edit]

However, in April 2012, a Special Investigation Team absolved the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of any role in the killing of Ehsan Jafri[39] Later a protest petition was filed by his wife Zakia Jafri seeking rejection of the said SIT report and Supreme Court accepted the same and the case is under process of being heard.[40][41][42] SIT has strongly opposed this petition[43] and said that "Modi has never said that go and kill people".[44] Later Court through Gujarat High Court stayed the routine transfer of the metropolitan magistrate hearing the petition on the information of the amicus curiae, Harish Salve, that the routine transfer due to the end of his term may delay the case.[41][42] In 2004, in an interview with Hardnews, Former Chief Justice of India V N Khare alleged that massacre could not have taken place without the complicity of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Khare has said that in his opinion Narendra Modi should be criminally prosecuted for genocide and manslaughter for the Gulbarga Society Massacre.[45] Reacting to this observation, Modi did not make any statement but said that he could not distinguish between khare (just) and khote (unjust). He said that Khare was no longer holding the high office and his statement should be seen in this light.[46] However, in December 2013, Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court rejected the petition filed by Zakia.[47] Zakia filed a Criminal Revision Application against the order in the Gujarat High Court on 15 March 2014.[47][48][49][50][51][52] The final hearing on the case started on 4 August 2015 in Gujarat High Court.[53][54][55] In April 2014 the Supreme Court praised SIT's probe into the riot cases,[56] and also declined to reconstitute another SIT for probing Gujarat riots.[57][58][59]

Court judgement[edit]

Gulbarg Society Massacre trial restarted at a special court with Supreme Court monitored Special Investigation Team acting as prosecution. On 18 June 2016, Court convicted 24 persons. 11 convicted for life, 1 convicted for 10 years and the remaining 12 given seven years of rigorous imprisonment.[60] The judgement termed the killings "unfortunate" and the "darkest day in the civil society of Gujarat", but reiterated that "it was the private firing by Ehsan Jafri that acted as a catalyst and which infuriated the mob to such an extent that the mob went out of control…".[60] This was despite the fact that survivors of the Gulbarg massacre said that Jafri fired his gun only in self defence after the violent mob started attacking the complex.[61]

Dismissing the allegations of a "larger conspiracy" behind the post-Godhra riots, including the Gulberg Society massacre, involving politicians and government machinery, Special Designated Kudge P B Desai said in his judgment that "the controversy, in my opinion, has been laid to rest and is required to be given its due burial". Judgement further stated that "…much attempts have been made to rake up this issue time and again, applications were tendered in the course of the present proceedings and independent proceedings have been initiated to seek reliefs under Section 319 of CrPC to arraign as co-accused senior police officers and other government officials, and such proceedings have been found to be without merit by all courts at all levels, including the Hon'ble Supreme Court of material has been considered even prima facie worthwhile to arraign such senior police officers and government officials and politicians in power as accused in a number of proceedings, including the present proceedings, and in my opinion, therefore, it would be unsafe and improper to even have a further discussion on this aspect.".[38][62]

In popular culture[edit]

Rahul Dholakia directed, Parzania (2005), starring Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika as the Parsi couple, Rupa and Dara Mody of the Gulbarg Society, whose 10-year-old son Azhar Mody went missing after a mob attack.[63][64] Subsequently, at the 2006 National Film Awards the film won two awards, the National Film Award for Best Actress for Sarika, as well as award for National Film Award for Best Direction. The film was not released in Gujarat, as the cinema owners refused to screen it fearing backlash.[65][66][67][68]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Year later, Gulbarg still a ghost town". The Indian Express. 1 March 2003.
  2. ^ a b c "Apex court SIT submits report on Gulbarg Society massacre". Hindustan Times. 14 May 2010. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011.
  3. ^ Shelton, p. 502
  4. ^ "The Gulbarg Society massacre: What happened". NDTV. 11 March 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Safehouse of Horrors". Tehelka. 3 November 2007. Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2010.
  6. ^ "Notify SIT in ten days: court". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 27 March 2008. Archived from the original on 27 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Erda, ex-Dy SP arrested for role in 2002 Gujarat riots Gaurav Shaha and Meghdoot Sharon". CNN-IBN. 10 February 2009. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012.
  8. ^ Hindustan Times. "Timeline: Zakia Jafri vs Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots case". Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b "Gujarat riots: SIT submits report to SC". The Indian Express. 15 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Timeline: SIT probe in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases". IBNLive. Archived from the original on 1 January 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  11. ^ "How SIT report on Gujarat riots exonerates Modi: The highlights". IBNLive. Archived from the original on 3 April 2013. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Gujarat riots: SIT's 2010, 2012 reports differ". The New Indian Express. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  13. ^ "11 of 24 convicts in Gulbarg Society massacre sentenced to life in jail". The Times of India. 17 June 2016. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  14. ^ People congregate at the abandoned Gulbarga Society on the eighth anniversary of the massacre.. Archived 1 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, 28 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Gulbarg Society beyond recognition seven years after carnage". The Indian Express. 28 February 2009.
  16. ^ Gulberg massacre: 14-year battle for justice against rioting, The New Indian Express, 2 June 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Gujarat riots: Modi summoned by Supreme Court panel". NDTV. 11 March 2010.
  18. ^ Human Rights, p. 19
  19. ^ "Ray of light in Gulbarg gloom". Hindustan Times. 27 April 2009. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011.
  20. ^ "NHRC upset over 'bias' in Gujarat FIRs". The Times of India. 10 June 2002.
  21. ^ "A test case in more ways than one". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 January 2005. Archived from the original on 4 January 2005.
  22. ^ "SC tells Modi govt to reinvestigate Guj riots, In depth". CNN-IBN. 26 March 2008. Archived from the original on 7 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Scan Modi: SC to SIT". The Economic Times. 28 April 2009.
  24. ^ Kishwar, Madhu (26 March 2009). "Secularists aren't saints". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
  25. ^ "In custody, for mentor's murder". The Indian Express. 22 February 2009. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  26. ^ "Gujarat riots trial: Witness 'blames' Modi". NDTV. 5 November 2009.
  27. ^ "Revisiting the Gulbarg massacre with Imtiaz Pathan". NDTV. 12 March 2010. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Gulbarg Society massacre: Witnesses want Tandon, 7 others named accused". The Times of India. 24 December 2009. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
  29. ^ "Nero Hour The SIT has summoned him in a Gujarat '02 case. But the trail is muddied". Outlook. 29 March 2010.
  30. ^ Mitta, Manoj (25 April 2010). "Post-Godhra riots: Teesta digs up call records". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011.
  31. ^ "Zakia Jafri moves SC in Gulbarg Society case". The Times of India. 16 January 2012. Archived from the original on 26 May 2013.
  32. ^ "Clean chit to Narendra Modi in Zakiya Jafri case: Sources; petitioners file fresh plea". NDTV. 9 February 2012.
  33. ^ "SIT says Ehsan Jafri 'provoked' murderous mob". BBC News. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  34. ^ Subrahmaniam, Vidya (11 May 2012). "SIT says Ehsan Jafri 'provoked' murderous mob". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  35. ^ "Jafri provoked Gulbarg mob: SIT report". The Times of India. 12 May 2012. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  36. ^ "Sting traps footsoldiers of Gujarat riots boasting about killings with state support". The Indian Express. 26 October 2007.
  37. ^ "Modi sanctioned Gujarat violence: Tehelka probe". DNA (newspaper). 25 October 2007.
  38. ^ a b "Gulberg verdict: Conspiracy theory requires a due burial". DNA (newspaper). 16 June 2016.
  39. ^ "Narendra Modi had no hand in Jafri killing, says SIT". Hindustan Times. 10 April 2012. Archived from the original on 10 April 2012.
  40. ^ "Zakia Jafri's plea against Modi to be heard". Hindustan Times. 24 April 2013. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  41. ^ a b "SC steps in, HC revokes transfer of magistrate hearing Zakia plea". The Indian Express. 12 May 2013.
  42. ^ a b "Hearing on Zakia Jafri's plea to resume". Zee News. 15 May 2013.
  43. ^ "SIT opposes Zakia's plea on Modi clean chit". Hindustan Times. 24 April 2013. Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  44. ^ "Modi did not incite riots: SIT". Hindustan Times. 25 April 2013. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  45. ^ "I would have lodged an FIR against Narendra Modi on charges of genocide and manslaughter". HardNews. March 2012. Archived from the original on 31 May 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  46. ^ "Justice Khare's remarks irk Gujarat CM". The Times of India. 3 May 2004. Retrieved 17 May 2013.
  47. ^ a b Desai, Darshan; Delhi, New (26 December 2013). "Zakia's plea against clean chit to Modi rejected". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
  48. ^ PTI (18 March 2014). "Zakia Jafri moves Gujarat High Court over SIT's clean chit to Modi". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  49. ^ BS Reporter (20 March 2014). "HC defers hearing on Zakia's plea against clean chit to Modi". Business Standard India. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  50. ^ PTI (18 March 2014). "2002 riots: Zakia Jafri appeals against clean chit to Modi".
  51. ^ Saeed Khan (24 January 2014). "2002 Gujarat riots: Zakia Jafri to move HC against clean chit to Modi". The Times of India.
  52. ^ BS Reporter (19 March 2014). "Gujarat riots: Jafri questions SIT clean chit to Modi, moves HC". Business Standard India. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  53. ^ "2002 Gujarat riots: Hearing on Zakia Jafri's petition on conspiracy starts". The Economic Times.
  54. ^ "2002 riots: Gujarat HC to hear Zakia Jafri's plea on July 27". The Times of India. 7 July 2015.
  55. ^ Chari, Mridula (15 July 2015). "CBI raids Teesta Setalvad's home two weeks before Gujarat high court hears case against Modi's 'clean chit'".
  56. ^ "Gujarat riots: SC praises SIT probe". Deccan Chronicle. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  57. ^ "Supreme Court junks PIL seeking reconstitution of SIT probing Gujarat riots". The Indian Express. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  58. ^ "Gujarat riots: SC refuses plea questioning SIT clean chit to Narendra Modi". Zee News. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  59. ^ "Gulberg society massacre: Quantum of punishment likely to be pronounced today". 9 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  60. ^ a b "Court says of Gulberg massacre victim Jafri: His firing angered mob, made them kill". IndianExpress (newspaper). 16 June 2016.
  61. ^ "Gujarat report says MP Ehsan Jafri 'provoked murderers'". BBC News. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  62. ^ "No larger conspiracy behind 2002 Godhra riots: SIT court". IndianExpress (newspaper). 16 June 2016.
  63. ^ "6 yrs after Guj massacre, a heartbreaking story of mother & son". The Indian Express. 25 July 2008.
  64. ^ "Cinema at its very best..." The Hindu. Chennai, India. 28 January 2007. Archived from the original on 9 February 2007.
  65. ^ "Flicker of hope for Parzania in Gujarat". The Times of India. 28 January 2007. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012.
  66. ^ "Parzania director's offer to Gujarat exhibitors". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 3 February 2007. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007.
  67. ^ Sharma, Radha (3 February 2007). "Gujarat will see Parzania if Bajrangi says OK!". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012.
  68. ^ In India, Showing Sectarian Pain to Eyes That Are Closed The New York Times, 20 February 2007.


External links[edit]

23°2′52″N 72°36′49″E / 23.04778°N 72.61361°E / 23.04778; 72.61361