The communal riots still haunt their lives and their emotions are visible in the way they recall the situations.

In the midst of stone pelting and angry mobs, they stuck their necks out to save the lives of people in the old city.

While some gave shelter to those who were stranded, others saw to it that the mobs were dispersed. Their stories might seem like movie scripts, but their will and bravery only shows their strong human spirit.

Recognising these courageous citizens, the Ekta Disaster Relief Committee, comprising 40 voluntary organisations, organised an interfaith meet for peace where six individuals were honoured as ‘Peace Ambassadors' on Sunday evening. DCP (South) N. Madhusudan Reddy felicitated them at Urdu Ghar, Moghalpura.

Key decision

While the old city was tense with rumours of riots spreading like wild fire on the night of March 28, S. Jitender and Junaid Khan, residents of Asifnagar, decided not to let mobs enter their area. “We knew that a fight broke out between a few people because of religious flags. We didn't want any trouble in our area so we decided to remove all the flags and buntings in our area,” says 33 year-old Jitender.

Without a second thought, both of them started removing flags in their areas and soon children of the locality joined them. “We didn't want any sort of flags in our area and we also told people to be cautious. All the residents cooperated with us and there was no sign of violence in our area,” says Mr. Khan, a businessman.

Tales of courage

In another incident, 63-year-old Dayanand Yadav was at his shop, Anand Milk Bar, at Lal Darwaza on Sunday night when stone pelting started. “Four Muslim women along with one boy were travelling in an auto when a group of youth stopped the auto and forced them to get down. Immediately, they set the vehicle ablaze and I called out to the women to come into the shop,” he recalls. “I gave them some water to drink and told them not to worry. They were on their way to a marriage at Teegalakunta. As soon as the mob dispersed, I saw them off in another auto,” he says.

Amid the violence, Rehan Khan, a resident of Haribowli, gave shelter to a pregnant woman who was stranded in the old city. “She was bleeding profusely and had to be admitted to hospital. I somehow mustered courage to go on the road and stop a van to get her to the hospital,” he recalls. “With the curfew on, I couldn't see the woman in pain and was in a critical state. However, after stopping the vehicle, the driver too complied with my request and we reached the hospital,” he says.

While mobs went on a rampage, Shailesh Kumar Valmiki, an Inspector from the Railway Protection Force, was coming back home when he found himself in between a mob.

“They were armed with sticks and knives and were on their way from Sultanshahi to Nasheman Nagar. I called the Moghulpura Circle Inspector and briefed him about the situation. The streets were dark and there was another mob which was on the other side. I immediately cautioned people to go away from the area and successfully dispersed the mob," he says. "If the mob had gone ahead, there would have been huge clashes, leaving a few people dead," says Mr. Valmiki, who lost his brother in the communal riots of 1997.

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