On February 27, 2002 59 Hindu pilgrims, returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive after a Muslim mob set the train on fire. Subsequently, communal riots gripped Gujarat. Multiple media outlets at that time had ran a story that a pregnant Muslim woman was raped by a Hindu mob, her pregnant belly slit open and her foetus flung into fire. Some versions also included that the above act was done with a sword.
Most reports cited Saira Bano, Kausar Bano’s sister-in-law’s version who claimed “What they did to my sister-in-law’s sister Kausar Bano was horrific and heinous. She was nine months pregnant. They cut open her belly, took out her foetus with a sword and threw it into a blazing fire. Then they burnt her as well.” Some versions of the story narrated horrific version of the fate of the foetus. In some versions the foetus was slaughtered with the sword, in some the foetus was swung on the point of the sword and then thrown into a fire.
Such narratives continue to be told on social media even today.
However, the postmortem of Kausar Bano told a different story.
A 2010 report states that the doctor who conducted post-mortem on Kauser, found the foetus intact. Dr J S Kanoria, who had conducted the autopsy on 2nd March, 2002 presented supporting documents to the special court and said that the foetus was intact in the woman’s womb. The foetus weight 2,500 gms and was 45 cms long.
Further, during the postmortem and cross examination of witness, it had come to light that Kausar Bano died of suffocation, fear and shock and her body bore no external or internal injuries. As per reports, during his deposition, Kanoria stated that Bano’s body bore no internal or external injury; moreover, there was no sword injury on her body. Dr Kanoria was working at the government civil hospital during the riots and had given statement that Kausar Bano’s foetus was removed after the post-mortem. The post-mortem was conducted on 1st March 2002.
While Kauser’s death was unfortunate, the lies surrounding it only fanned the bitterness in an already embittered environment.