On February 27, 2002, a coach of the Sabarmati Express at the Godhra station in Gujarat was set on fire, killing 59 passengers. The incident triggered violent communal riots all over the state which resulted in over 1,000 casualties according to official estimates.
One of the men in the picture is Ashok Parmar, also known as Ashok Mochi, who had become the face of cruelty during the riots in the aftermath of the 2002 Godhra train burning. Wearing a saffron band and holding an iron rod, Ashok became the face of the terror spreading across Gujarat. But he eventually said that his becoming a rioter was a coincidence as he had lost his business and his source of income due to the strike. He said he had tied a saffron cloth to save himself from being misrecognised as a Muslim as he had a long beard. The photograph landed Ashok in jail for 14 days and was later acquitted by a court.
The second picture is of Qutubuddin Ansari, who was a 28 then. Qutubuddin, who was a tailor in Ahmedabad, was trapped at the balcony of a burning house on the second consecutive day of the rioting. Mobs had set fire to Muslim shops across the neighbourhood due to which Ansari couldn’t escape. He saw a military van pass by and began shouting for help with his folded hands until they returned. After he was rescued, he had to change a few cities and was fired from multiple jobs because the picture had become the face of the carnage.