For thousands of people in Gujarat, the process of adjusting to life after the devastating riots has been
an enormous challenge. Many who have lost everything – their families, homes and jobs – have been driven to a state of desperation. At least 100 people have committed suicide in the last 8 months.
Life has never been the same for Gopal Chunadas ever since that horrific night in March when an enraged mob burnt down his house and small grocery shop. The frenzy of violence that had enveloped Ahmedabad after Godhra may have passed, but the destruction is taking its toll.
Though Gopalbhai’s family survived the violence, it couldn’t bear the aftermath. Unable to rebuild their
shop and house, they were driven to begging for food from neighbours. His wife Bhartiben finally gave up, committing suicide this Tuesday, leaving behind her two small children.
In the same colony on the southern outskirts of Ahmedabad where 500 houses were burnt, there have been six attempted suicides by riot victims unable to rebuild their broken lives.
The Ahmedabad Police report approximately 100 cases of suicides in the past 8 months, which are directly related to unemployment and mental trauma caused by the riots. This includes four cases of mass suicide where entire families took the extreme step.
“They are not getting jobs according to their skills while unskilled workers are not getting any work at
all. Those who were once self-employed are today working as unskilled labourers. Thus many of them are mentally disturbed and are facing tensions at home,” said Sadiq Hussain, Coordinator, Andert Project.
Eight months after the violence, the city seems completely peaceful. But deep scars remain, something
politicians will have to be mindful of, as Gujarat gets ready for what promises to be a fractious election campaign.