Ahmedabad: Two brothers who survived the 2002 Gulbarg massacre — Imtiyaz Pathan and Firoz Khan Pathan — have entered into politics and filed their nominations from Kheda and Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituencies, respectively.
Imityaz, 42, is a candidate of the Apna Desh Party and has been allotted the election symbol of a pressure cooker. Firoz, 45, is contesting as an Independent candidate against BJP chief Amit Shah.
Shah, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time. He has been fielded from Gandhinagar constituency, which was last represented by BJP veteran LK Advani.
Firoz now lives in Vejalpur, which falls under the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency. His younger brother Imtiyaz resides in the city area of Gomtipur.
When a mob attacked Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad after the 2002 Godhra riots, the Pathan brothers lost as many as 10 members of their family, including their mother.
Imtiyaz, who is the key prosecution witness in the Gulbarg case, said both the BJP and the Congress did nothing for the riot victims.
Firoz had filed a case against social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand alleging misuse of funds collected for the victims of the riot.
Speaking to ANI about his candidature in this election, Firoz said: "Since 2002, we have not received any justice, and we are still fighting for it. We were supported by an NGO, but they also misused funding collected in our name, and justice was again denied to us. This is why I have decided to contest the election. If 2.5 lakh Dalit and 3 lakh Muslim voters cast their vote in our favour, then there are chances that the Congress and BJP will be defeated."
He added that his Hindu friends have extended support to him and he is confident of getting their votes.
Highlighting the need for a strong leader who can raise the voice of Gulbarg riot victims in Parliament, Firoz said: "I want to establish peace and communal harmony. Nobody is raising our issue in the Lok Sabha. There is no Muslim MP who can speak for us. In the Rajya Sabha, there is Congress leader Ahmed Patel, but I have no hopes from him."
"The situation would have been different with Jafri Saab (former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the massacre). He was the only person who worked for us. So this is the reason I want to get elected as an MP. I will surely go to Parliament to seek justice for my brothers," he added.
Around 68 people were killed at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on 28 February, 2002. The incident took place a day after coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, inciting riots across Gujarat.
Polling in all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held on 23 April. Counting of votes will take place on 23 May.
Updated Date: Apr 16, 2019 11:53:27 IST