In this series, we profile voters who were affected by the 2002 riots in Gujarat to try and understand what their issues for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections are.
Ashok Mochi's photograph - which shows him wearing a saffron band around his forehead, an iron rod in one hand, arms outstretched, letting out a war cry - became one of the most iconic pictures of the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Today, despite having studied up to Class 10, Mochi repairs shoes in his small corner shop on a pavement in Ahmedabad. He claims he has been wrongly accused for being part of the mob, and explains why he expects nothing good to come from the Lok Sabha elections.
Things weren’t always bad for Shantaben. Once upon a time, she lived in a poor but serene locality of Ahmedabad with her husband and three sons. But the 2002 riots in Gujarat saw her son end up in prison, and her husband die of depression. Her life has never been the same. She will vote in the Lok Sabha elections, but her hopes for her son's release hang on a thin thread.
3. Shafiquddin Shaikh - Boy Interrupted
Shafiquddin Shaikh's life turned upside down in 2002 when he was attacked by a mob and had to move to a relief camp with his family. He has since worked with many NGOs and is on the verge of getting a BA degree in Political Science. His social work has brought him close to political parties in the state and he's able to point out key issues with most of them. However, at 30, he is still to vote. This will be his first time.
4. Saddam, Sohaib, Shahrukh, Yusuf: Once there was a way
Saddam, Sohaib, Shahrukh and Yusuf fled their respective villages to survive gruesome violence in 2002. They now live and work in Ahmedabad. This month they will be voting for the first time. But only one of them knows who he wants to vote for. The rest of them are debating their choices. Or the lack of them. Their election issues are simple. They expect very little. And they seem to have lost a sense of what they truly deserve.