Gujarat Children Relive Shattered Lives

Five years after losing their families and beloved ones to the worst religious riots in India's state of Gujarat, orphaned Muslim children are trying to piece together their shattered lives.

Gujarat Children Relive Shattered Lives

"The best way to deal with trauma is with love, mother's love," Kausar Bano, a young matron at the Jamiat Children's Village orphanage, told Reuters on Saturday, February 24.

The orphanage is home to 132 Muslim children who lost their families in the 2002 violence in Gujarat.

"We try to make it just like home," added Bano, who has been caring for the children at the orphanage since 2002.

In 2002, month-long violence in Gujarat claimed the lives of 2,500 people, mostly Muslim, displaced some 200,000 and orphaned about 400 children.

Many of the 132 children at the orphanage saw their parents, brothers and sisters raped, stabbed, butchered or burned alive by rampaging Hindu mobs who had a free run.

Despite a national outcry, little has been done to catch the culprits, rights groups complain.

They insist that there was no trace of accountability on government officials who engineered the massacre.

Only about a dozen people have been convicted from 3,200 cases filed.

India's Supreme Court has accused the Hindu nationalist government in Gujarat of being complicit in the killings.

Gujarat carnage was the worst religious violence India had seen in years.

India is home to the world's largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan.

Hindus account for more than 80 percent of the country's 1.1 billion population while Muslims make up about 13 percent.

Traumatized for Life

An orphaned child, Saddam Hussein, was a witness to the rape of a pregnant Muslim woman by 14 men after they slaughtered 18 people in the village.

"He became a rock, unable to speak or even move for weeks," said Maulana Hakimuddin Qasmi, the supervisor of the home.

Aftab Munaf Memon, another orphaned Muslim child at the orphanage, has his life totally changed after the riots.

Before, he has his life nicely planned. After finishing school, he will buy a plane and become a pilot like the one he saw in a magazine advertisement.

"I asked my brother to buy me a big plane," he said.

But this has never happened as he lost his family in the riots.

Sheikh Sajid, just 8 years old in 2002, watched his mother being hacked by a Hindu mob and his father is missing.

Sajid said he wants to be a doctor. Asked why, he replied: "Once, my brother hurt his leg in an accident, but there was no doctor in our village."

That brother is now dead as well, stabbed by the rioters along with his mother.

At the orphanage, the Muslim children live in spacious dormitories in groups of 12.

Each group has an "ammi" or mother, who not only looks after them, bathes and feeds them, but also tells them bedtime stories.

"The children are sharp, and clearly with some guidance they can do very well," said Kavita, a teacher at the orphanage's own school who gave only one name.

"They are like ordinary children, just that some of them are a little quieter."

Guided by counselors, the children are encouraged to take up sports and painting to help deal with their violent past.

Occasionally, the matrons find a child crying through the night in bed.

"There is this one child, Saif, who at times cries the whole night and also makes us cry. We know he is missing his family," said matron Zarina Bano.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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