‘Sonia had met Zakia after Gulbarg incident’

The son of the late Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the Gulbarg society violence, has refuted the claim by former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar in his book that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had not met the MP’s widow after the 2002 riots in the state.

In his book, ‘Gujarat – Behind the Curtain’, Sreekumar said, “Soulless secularism and over-sensitivity to Hindu sentiments presumably prompted Congress leaders to block the plans of Sonia Gandhi to visit Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP, butchered to death by rioters on the bandh day (28th February 2002), during her Gujarat visit after the riots, for expressing condolence.”

Tanveer Jafri, Zakia’s son, said that the Congress chief had met his mother four to five days after the Gulbarg society riot incident at the city circuit house.

“As our house was burnt down after the riots, we were staying at a friend’s place. Sonia Gandhiji had come to Ahmedabad and my mother and I had met her at the city circuit house,” Jafri said.

Ahmed Patel (political advisor to the Congress president) and another gentleman were present during that meeting, he said.

“This is the fact,” he said in response to the claims made by Sreekumar.

“May be the state government had at the time restricted the movements of leaders of political parties fearing a flare up. So we had met her at the city circuit house. My mother also remembers the meeting,” Jafri further said.

Sreekumar, an ex-DGP, had taken on the Gujarat government headed at the time by Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots. He has now written a book on the riots which was published last month.

Sreekumar, however, stuck to his stand and wrote an e-mail to Tanveer Jafri after he claimed that Sonia had met her mother to condole the Congress MP’s death.

“My statement that Sonia Gandhi did not, repeat did not, visit your mother at her residence is truthful and correct. Instead Congress leaders summoned your mother, an old widow, under severe shock, agony and despair to the place of stay of Congress President.

“So, my observation that the Congress President never visited the widow of the former MP, killed in a gruesome manner is totally correct,” Sreekumar wrote in the e-mail to Jafri.

“Let us not forget that while many people ran away from Gulbarg society, Ehsan Jafri Saheb bravely stayed back for the protection of women and children. His martyrdom was not properly recognised by the State and Central Govts and the Congress party,” Sreekumar further said.