In February 2002 a train compartment inside the Sabarmati Express by the Godhra train station in Gujarat caught on fire. 59 Hindus burned to death, which lead to Hindu-Muslim rioting due to debates on whether the fire was deliberate or an accident. About 2,000 people were killed in the riots and 2,500 were injured. There were also reports of rape, looting, and destruction of property.
Survivors from the Gujarat riots recall the attacks that happened in 2002. Usman Sheikh's wife and two children were killed by a mob that locked them in their house, then it on fire. He said he is unable to forgive and forget the rioters that ruined his life. Zafar Sheikh's mother was also set on fire and killed by a mob. His wife was raped and his house was looted. Five years after the riots they were both still waiting for the perpetrators to be convicted.
During the 2002 riots in Gujarat many witnesses made calls to the police, fire brigades, and ambulance services. Several of them were told by the police, "We have no orders to save you". Human Rights Watch released a report implicating the police involvement with the attacks. In some instances they remained as bystanders, but there were also occasions where the police officials had direct involvement leading the mobs to attack the Muslims.
In 2003 the attacks and rioting continued. In one incident there was an argument over a ball landing in a Hindu temple that led to riots that killed 3 Muslims and injured 35. In another incident a Muslim resident was hacked to death by a local theatre, which led to more rioting. Two Hindus on a motorbike were dragged to the ground; one burned to death while the other was stabbed. 6 people were injured and were left in serious condition. The government continued to ignore the violence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was Chief Minister of Gujarat during the time of the riots, was implicated for his part in them. Sanjiv Beat, a senior police officer, testified to India's Supreme Court that Modi allowed the anti-Muslim riots, but Modi has denied the allegations. Bhatt said he came across information before and during the violence that included actions of senior administrative officials. He also made a statement that Modi told officials the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson after the attacks on the train.
In 2014 the Hindus and Muslims were rioting in Gujarat again after a Facebook post of an image that some Muslims considered offensive. Both the Hindus and Muslims threw stones at each other. One person was stabbed and several others were injured. The police intervened by using tear gas, sending riot squads, and cutting mobile phone, internet, and text messages to try and stop the violence.
In 2016 the Indian court gave life sentences to 11 people for the massacre of dozens of Muslims in Gujarat from 2002. Another 12 suspects were sentenced to seven years in jail for murdering 69 Muslims that were either hacked or burnt to death. One more person was sentenced to 10 years for rioting and arson. Over 100 people have been convicted for the riots over the years. Narendra Modi was cleared by an investigation by the Supreme Court in 2012 for his alleged involvement with the massacres.
Shahjahan Bano is a survivor from the Gujarat riots in 2002. He and his mother went to a relief camp after losing everything from the attacks. It was supposed to be a temporary home but 15 years later he and his family still live there. Around 200,000 people, mostly Muslims, were displaced from the riots. Shamshad Pathan, a lawyer that has represented victims, says that the government hasn't done much to help resettle the victims. About 17,000 people were resettled in 80 colonies across Gujarat, fifteen of which are in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is a segregated city where for the most part Hindus and Muslims don't live together in the same buildings or neighborhoods. Pathan said the Muslims there are forced to live in the ghettos.