A Hindu refugee in 2002 anti-muslim Gujarat riots relief camp

Shivappa Basappa Manu’s family was the only Hindu group that lived at the Shah-e-Alam relief camp meant for Muslim refugees during the 2002 riots. Instead of taking the lifesaving way out and asserting his Hindu identity, Shivappa – from Hussainnagar ni Chawl in Naroda Paita – chose to not abandon his Muslim neighbours.

Among his neighbours was Fatima Sheikh, who runs a flourmill opposite Shivappa’s stall. “He is like our brother and it was our responsibility to keep him safe among thousands of homeless, angry people,” Fatima says. “At the camp, we used to call him by a Muslim name.”

Shivappa found his neighbours a way to the terrace of a building in the Gangotri Society. Around 80 members of the chawl then rode out the daylight hours there while the violence and rape played out. All the others hiding with him were Muslims.

At around 8 pm when, according to Shivappa, the mob had tired itself out, he and those with him ventured out and got into an SRP bus which took them to the Shah-e-Alam relief camp. His neighbours hid his Hindu identity and he and his family lived there for seven days.

On the seventh day he left the camp, seeking out a relative, because his neighbours feared for his safety. “There was no question of us and them as Hindus and Muslims,” Shivappa says. “Even when I was leaving , they made arrangements for my safe passage.”

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