Statement of Facts on the Attack on Panikkar’s car by Sangh Parivar

Anhad invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the Exhibition, and Nafisa Ali to inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival at the National Students Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (July 6-8, 2007) in Ahmedabad.

Written by

SHABNAM HASHMI

Published on

Anhad invited Prof. Shivji Panikkar to inaugurate the Exhibition, and Nafisa Ali to inaugurate the Student Video Documentary Film Festival at the National Students Festival for Peace, Communal Harmony and Justice (July 6-8, 2007) in Ahmedabad.
I was waiting for Panikkar to come. Around 10.40, I called him and he said he is about to reach. Nafisa Ali had already arrived. After speaking to Nafisa for a few minutes I walked towards the gate to receive Panikkar. As I reached the gate of the Xavier’s campus I was shocked to see Panikkar’s car surrounded by a mob. They were shouting slogans ‘Panikkar go back. Bharat mata ki jai …’
I pushed myself inside the crowd and reached Panikkar’s car, the mob was throwing stones, one of them threw a large rusted iron drum on the bonnet of the car, the same drum was thrown again on the car, the drum cracked the wind screen. Sahir who had by now reached and was just behind me, managed to take away the drum from a goon’s hand, and take it away, in the process injuring himself. Two of the attackers threw two bricks which broke the wind screen, one of the bricks hit the driver on the forehead.
All this happened at a very fast speed and it took me sometime to come to senses. I stood near the door so that mob could not drag out Panikkar which they were trying to do and then I started shouting at the top of my voice at the mob. For a few moments everything stopped and they moved backwards. I told Panikkar and the driver to take away the car at full speed as I as an organizer was unable to guarantee any security. I told them to rush to the nearest Police station. By now the mob realised that they were trying to leave and they tried to block the car from leaving and continued to throw stones. Fortunately the driver speeded up and was able to move away.
Gagan Sethi and Gauhar Raza, who were at the venue immediately rushed to the Police station, Navrangpura and told they informed Panikkar on the phone to go to the same police station.
The mob had already broken all our festival hoardings which were outside the gate. Now they forced their entry into the compound raising slogans ‘Modi amar rahe, desh ke gaddaron wapas jao’ and ‘bharat mata ki jai’ (all in Gujarati) and started breaking and vandalising the display in the compound (outside the exhibition hall) mobbed and threatened Sarup Ben, Zakia Jowher, Bina ben (from Aman Samudaya) and me. They used highly abusive, sexist and filthy language. Their body language and gestures were highly aggressive and vulgar. The attack on Bina, Zakia and Sarup ben was of being ‘gaddars’ (traitors). The attack on me was of insulting Gujarati asmita being an outsider and entering Gujarat. This continued for about 20 minutes. Then suddenly a signal from one of them ( which later I realized was a police man from local intelligence- who was part of the mob) that police was coming, made all of them leave suddenly.
After the police arrived, the man in plain clothes was standing with them and I went and told the police that this man was part of the mob, which they ignored and said he is from the police. Later in the police station I again showed the man to the Police Inspector Desai, but he also ignored it completely.
It was very clear that the attack was masterminded by the police and the BJP and the Sangh combine.