Man who fought for 'Parzania' screening released from captivity

Mar 26, 2007 IANS


Ahmedabad, March 26 (IANS) The man who had filed a criminal complaint against Hindu rightwing leader Babu Bajrangi for illegally stalling the screening of the film "Parzania" has returned home after more than a week in captivity.

Natubhai Acharya, who went missing March 17, was released at Saturday morning at a village near the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border. He suspects the hand of some Hindu fundamentalist group or Babu Bajrangi's men behind his kidnapping.

Recounting his experience to IANS, Acharya said he was released in a nearly deserted place. It was only after some time that he met a passer-by who told him where he was. The man helped Acharya climb to a truck going to a nearby town. From there he boarded a bus to Udaipur.

He said his abductors did not give him any money but fortunately he had hidden a Rs.100 note in a concealed pocket of his shirt. He called up his son using somebody's mobile phone. His family members asked him to wait at Udaipur and said they would go to meet him there.

His family reached the city late Saturday. He was given medical treatment in his hometown Mehsana, 100 km from here, and on Sunday he gave a statement to local police.

Narrating how he was abducted and his days in captivity, Acharya said: "I was waiting for an auto-rickshaw at Radhanpur chokdi, when two men came and stood there as if waiting for a bus. Then suddenly a Maruti van pulled up. Before I could understand anything, one of them pressed a piece of cloth drenched in some liquid on my mouth and the doors of the van swung open. I was pulled in and then I fell unconscious. When I opened my eyes I was in a room at some unknown place.

"My abductors used to speak in Hindi but I suspect they were Gujaratis who were trying to hide their identity. They did not tie my hands or legs but hit my knees and waist with a wooden stick so that I don't escape. All these days I survived on water. They provided me some food but it was so bad that I could not eat it."

He said his abductors made him drink some liquid after which he had a burning sensation in the body. His urine and blood samples have been taken to ascertain what chemicals were present in the liquid.

Acharya, a retired government officer and social worker, said he did not recognise any of the abductors but suspected them to be of some Hindu fundamentalist group.

"The abductors threatened me with dire consequences if I continue with my 'anti-Hindu' approach. They said they wanted to spread Hindu fundamentalism in Gujarat and make Gujarati youth into Hindu terrorists. They also warned that anyone who blocked their way would face the consequences," he said.

Acharya had lodged a complaint against Bajrangi in Mehsana in February. In his complaint he had blamed the Narendra Modi government for failing to take suitable steps to facilitate the release of "Parzania", a film about communal violence of 2002 in the state and alleged that Bajrangi was running a parallel government and threatening theatre owners not to show the film.

Meanwhile, Mehsana town police Inspector R.R. Pathak told IANS that police had recorded Acharya's statement. "Now we will base our investigations on the information he has provided. A police team will visit the Rajasthan areas where he was taken and later released."

"Parzania", directed by US-based Rahul Dholakia, is based on a true story of a Parsi boy who went missing during the communal violence in 2002. It had a worldwide release Jan 26, but theatre owners in Gujarat refused to screen it allegedly after receiving threats.

Bajrangi is a prime accused in the massacre of 89 people at Naroda Patiya locality on the outskirts of the city on Feb 28, 2002.

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