‘Face’ of Gujarat riots to launch Mumbai protest initiative


Mumbai : Qutubuddin Ansari, the famous ‘face’ of the 2002 Gujarat riots, will exhort Indians to mark as a black day the 10th anniversary of the carnage on Feb 28, an official said.

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“He will come and personally request all Indians to wear black badges, scarves or bands – to protest against one of the most inhuman incidents ever in the history of independent India,” Harmony Foundation President Abraham Mathai told IANS.

Ansari, a tailor by profession whose teary-eyed photos begging with folded hands for mercy from the mob had been flashed worldwide, will arrive here with his wife and six-year-old daughter from Ahmedabad.

Soon after the riots, Ansari had shifted to Kolkata but returned to his native state two years ago, according to Mathai, former vice-chairman of Maharashtra Minorities Commission who coaxed him to come for the Mumbai initiative this Monday and Tuesday.

“He has still not recovered from the scars of the riots and mostly keeps quiet, minding his business. But Ansari, like many others who have not yet overcome the nightmare that engulfed the people of Gujarat, reluctantly agreed to come and launch the campaign for us,” Mathai added.

He said unofficial estimates pegged the number of riot victims at 2,000 besides many others reported missing and many more grievously injured in the carnage let loose by communal forces.

“Women were widowed and children orphaned when communal forces hounded out members of a particular community. It was perhaps one of the cruellest and most inhuman incidents which unfortunately had the backing of the state. Ten years later, the main perpetrators of this inhuman crime roam free, with no remorse and repentance. Enjoying a position of power, the next step for some, is the post of the prime minister,” Mathai said, referring to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

As a reminder of what happened as a mark of angst and protest, Harmony Foundation and other organizations will distribute black ribbons to people, urging them to stand up for the cause of justice, communal harmony and national integration.

Prominent personalities, including Mahesh Bhatt, Tushar Gandhi, cop Sanjiv Bhatt and others shall join Ansari in the mission for solidarity, Mathai said.