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Gulbarg Massacre: Tale of Two Families Still Reeling Under the Tragedy

File photo of a para-military Jawan patrolling in front of the empty houses in Gulbarg society (PTI)

File photo of a para-military Jawan patrolling in front of the empty houses in Gulbarg society (PTI)

The Gulbarg Society tragedy, in which 69 persons including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed by a mob during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, is also a tragedy of the parents of two boys who went missing.

Ahmedabad: The Gulbarg Society tragedy, in which 69 persons including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed by a mob during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, is also a tragedy of the parents of two boys who went missing.

Two-year-old Muzaffar Sheikh went missing during the massacre and remained untraced for six years. When he was found in 2008, he was no longer Muzaffar. He had a Hindu name: Vivek Patni.

Then there was another boy who also went missing from the Muslim-dominated society during the riots. Rupa and Dara Modi, a Parsi couple living in Gulbarg Society, have not yet found their son Azhar who was 14 years old at the time.

Muzaffar was found by Vikram Patni, a fish seller, on the streets. Vikram and his wife Veena adopted him.

However, activist Teesta Setalvad, who has fought for the justice for the victims of Gulbarg massacre, alleges that a police constable found the boy and handed him over to the couple without following the due legal procedure.

The boy, given a new name, Vivek, grew up in the Patni family who lived in a chawl in Ahmedabad's Saraspur locality.

A legal battle ensued when his real parents found him and sought his custody. The Gujarat High Court finally decided in favour of his foster parents as the boy refused to go with his biological parents.

The HC also asked both the sides to cooperate in the child's interest. The boy can visit his biological parents from time to time, the court said.

Azhar Modi, who has not been seen since the day of massacre is now presumed dead under the law. But his parents believe he is alive.

Their quest to find their son became the story of the award-winning Hindi film "Parzania".

"Whenever I receive a call from an unknown number, I believe somebody might have called me to tell me about my son. In the 'Parzania' movie and on missing boy posters, they gave this number, so people used to call me, telling me that they saw some boy who might be my son. This raises hope," Rupa Modi said.

Recently, when she visited Kerala, somebody told her about a man who lived in an orphanage and resembled her child. Another person called from Delhi to say that he saw a man outside a temple who resembled her son.

"Our search continues to this day, and will continue forever until we find him," she said.

Fourteen years after the incident, 24 people have been convicted while 36 others acquitted in the Gulbarg Society massacre case which took place on February 28, 2002. Although no one has been convicted under the charges of conspiracy (IPC Section 120 B) but out of 24 convicts, 11 have been found guilty of murder (Section 302). The 13 others have been convicted for lesser offences.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Atul Vaidya is among those convicted for the massacre.