In February 2002 Saeed and Sakil Dawood went to India with their childhood friend Mohammed Aswat and their 18-year-old nephew, Imran.
Whilst returning from an excursion to witness the majestic beauty of the Taj Mahal, their joyful adventure turned into a vicious nightmare.
Within hours of crossing the Gujarat border, a roadblock manned by a well-organised mob, fuelled by religious hatred, stopped the British tourists. The mob circled the jeep and demanded to know from the occupants their religious identity, the tourists answered that they were British citizens and were indeed Muslims.
The hired driver was then dragged out of the jeep and murdered. His body was thrown back into the vehicle and set alight. In the meantime, the British tourists were chased to a nearby farm.
Mohammed Aswat and Imran were stabbed and left for dead. Imran miraculously survived and since then, Saeed and Sakil have never been seen again.
Unfortunately the savagery experienced by these innocent tourists was not unique. In that month, state sponsored violence in Gujarat claimed the lives of more than 2,000 innocent Indian Muslims.
According to a Womens’ panel that has visited Gujarat, Muslim women were subjected to “unimaginable inhumane and barbaric” sexual violence. The violence was also perpetrated against the elderly and children to the extent that over 100,000 Muslims, including hundreds of rape victims and injured or orphaned children, are still suffering as a result of the Genocide.
The Dawood family has not only endured a terrible tragedy, their grief is compounded by the lack of any serious or thorough Indian police investigation. The family themselves have had to visit the crime scene, find vital clues and collate forensic evidence including charred remains of bodies believed to belong to their loved ones.
In April 2002, six people suspected of the murders were arrested, only to be released soon after, suggesting that the arrests were baseless and were carried out to relieve international pressure.
In a damning internal report obtained by the BBC, British officials in India said the violence against Muslims was “pre-planned and carried out with the full support of the state government”.
As a result of family concerns regarding the police investigation and allegations of state sponsored genocide in Gujarat, the family have demanded the involvement of an independent police force. In this regard, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw share the family’s concerns and have offered specialist assistance from the British Police Force.
However, as the International Community looks on in silence, the Indian government has so far remained unmoved…