Died: Social worker and leader of Godhra Muslims Maulana Umarji
Social worker and leader of Godhra Muslims Maulana Umarji who ran relief camps for those fleeing anti- Muslim violence in and around Godhra following the Sabarmati Express coach burning on Feb. 27, 2002, died on January 13. He was 72. Maulana Umarji had to spend nine years (2002-2001) in jail as an accused in the coach burning case. The vindictive administration of Narendra Modi had arrested him under POTA, although the widely respected Maulana had been only engaged in dousing the communal flames and providing succor to the riot-affected people fleeing villages. According to journalist Jyoti Punwani (The Hindu Jan. 17), Maulana Umarji was constantly reviled by the Gujarati media even though he had apologized for the coach burning on behalf of his community even before the crime could be proved. More than his incarceration, Maulana was more heartbroken for his image being tarnished by the media and the administration. He was ultimately honorably acquitted by the court which found 63 of the 94 accused innocent. Six of his children were married off while he was in jail.