So indecent was his younger brother's death that Idris Yusuf Ghodawala never imagined the indignity that was to follow. \nOn March 1, 2002, as Hindu-Muslim riots convulsed the state of Gujarat, a Hindu mob armed with shiny new swords set upon Imran Ghodawala, an 18-year-old Muslim, dragged him into the Rabbani mosque and burned him to death. Idris, hiding on a balcony next door, saw the attack and then the smoke billowing from the mosque. \nWhen Idris Ghodawala went to the police to claim Imran's remains, he said the top local police officer, a Hindu named R.J. Patil, told him there were no remains to claim. Patil had burned them, knowing full well that Muslims, unlike Hindus, bury their dead. \nThe sacrilege still makes Ghodawala, 31, weep. \n"We are Muslims, and they burned our body," he said. \nPatil's action appears to have been part of a broader effort to conceal evidence and thwart prosecutions after the riots in Gujarat state, which left at least 1,100 Muslims dead and up to 600 missing. Ghodawala could name four members of the mob that killed his brother, two of whom he had played cricket with as a child. But he said Patil refused to let him name names, or even file a complaint. So Ghodawala's case essentially disappeared, as did thousands of others stemming from the riots. \nIn a state controlled by Hindu nationalists, the police either refused to register the names of the accused or simply summarily closed cases; prosecutors did not oppose bail for suspects, and judges delivered acquittals in cases where dozens of people died. \nOnly a small number of Hindus have been convicted for any action in the riots, although the Supreme Court has now intervened to force more than 2,000 cases that had been closed to be re-examined and at least two retried. \nWhat happened in this area was typical except in one respect. Late last year, Neeraja Gotru Rao, a policewoman of uncommon courage, arrived here after being sent by the state police to reinvestigate the cases. Her work led to the arrests of about 30 suspects, including the personal assistant to a state government minister. \nIt also led to the arrest of Patil on suspicion of destroying evidence by burning the remains of Imran Ghodawala and at least 12 other Muslims. \nThe fate of these two police officers, whose interpretation of duty so diverged, will test more than whether justice will be done in the riots, which were set off by the immolation on Feb. 27, 2002, of 59 Hindus in a train carriage. \nIt may also determine whether Muslims here can once again believe in the impartiality of the Indian state. \nOn a recent afternoon, the corpulent Patil was found not in jail, but sipping tea in his pajamas in the local government hospital. \nThe minister's personal assistant and another well-connected accused person -- all three ostensibly under arrest -- were with him. Pleading illness, they were seeking bail from the comfort of the hospital. \nRao, meanwhile, was back in Ahmedabad, having been ordered by the Gujarat state police to wrap up her unfinished work. She is not granting interviews, but victims and their advocates say the order is another effort to thwart prosecutions. \n"She was removed because she was doing good work," Ghodawala said. "And because she said she would try to find out who were the superior officers who gave the orders. Now I don't think anybody will take up this case." The director general of the Gujarat police says that Rao, who is Hindu, was taking too long with her work, and that her investigation was finished.
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