Meena Menon

Those sheltering Muslims targeted

A mob attacked Muslims in the hospital

DHULE: Mohammed Salim Nizamuddin, a 42-year-old powerloom worker, was returning home from Bhiwandi on October 5 in a jeep. When the vehicle reached the highway near Dhule on Sunday evening, he and his four co-passengers were pulled out by a mob. “They broke the glass on the jeep. We were beaten up badly. I just ran for my life and took shelter nearby,” he said. Mohammed said the people who gave him shelter told him not to reveal their identity. “Such is the terror in Dhule that even those who shelter Muslims are targeted,” he said. He added that there was a police van in front of their vehicle which tipped off the mob that there were Muslims in the jeep. “The mob beat us saying we had destroyed a temple,” he added.

Dhule city has a population of around five lakh, of which 25 per cent is Muslim. When the riots broke out on October 5, there was a lot of tension at the Civil hospital too. According to an official source who wishes to remain anonymous, there was a fracas outside the hospital between the two communities. Some patients were beaten up outside the casualty ward and the police did nothing. IG, Nashik Range, S.P. Gupta, however, said this was all “bunkum.” Nothing of the sort happened.

The hospital has admitted a number of Muslim patients but civil surgeon T.D. Khot denied that any incident like this took place. “We don’t know what happened outside the hospital but we treated 220 patients, of whom 71 were Muslim. Of the 28 patients still admitted, 14 are Muslim,” he said. The Muslims still at the hospital did not complain of any ill-treatment.

At the Civil hospital, Abdus Sattar, 53, a head-load worker, with back injuries and a fracture of the right hand, says he was attacked by some boys on the night of October 8. “I was letting out my goats for the night, when I was ambushed. I had to wait till morning to come to hospital because of curfew,” he said.

Sheikh Ramzan, who sells chillies in the market, left for home early on Sunday due to the riots but he did not escape. The mob attacked Ramzan and now he has multiple leg fractures and his right foot has a serious axe injury. “I had to drag myself for some distance before the police brought me here,” he said.

However, a different picture emerged at the Sarvajanik hospital run by the Dawoodi Bohra Charitable Trust. Dr. Abid Sheikh of the Trust said he had taken a patient to the Civil hospital on October 5 evening with a bad cervical cut. “We entered the hospital and there was a mob attacking the Muslims. The ambulance was surrounded. We left the patient there and had to run for our lives,” Dr. Sheikh said. The patient had come to Sarvajanik but since there were no emergency services there, Dr. Sheikh had to take him to the Civil hospital.

Abdul Aziz, who was injured in the riots in Devpur on October 5, said he was taken to the Civil hospital the next day and they just put a “katcha” bandage on his injuries and told him to leave in two days. “Abdul came here with fractures in the left hand and head injuries,” said a doctor. Abdul Latif Bhaiyya Patel from Wani village, 12 km. from Dhule, said: “There were nine of us inside the Masjid on October 6 offering prayers. Around 11.30 a.m. about 50 to 60 people started attacking us with swords.” His right hand is fractured and he has 15 stitches on the head. “If the police had not come we would have been burnt alive,” he said. They were too scared of going to the Civil hospital. All nine were severely injured and admitted to Sarvajanik. Ishaaq Ahmed, 23, who was in the mosque at Wani, has cerebral edema, a spinal fracture and his left limbs are paralysed. “I don’t think I can ever move my leg,” he said.

The rumours of people not being allowed inside the Civil hospital spread like wildfire and most Muslims came to Sarvajanik as a result, said Dr. Afzal Khan from the hospital.

He said the mob broke an ambulance and two ambulance drivers were severely injured. Sarvajanik has treated 170 patients and 123 of them are still here.

The wards are full of people with severe injuries ranging from acid burns to multiple fractures.