The court judgment on the Godhra train fire is out. The complete judgment needs to be read before passing opinion. But from what has already appeared in media certain observations are relevant. The judgment unambiguously states that there was a conspiracy behind the train fire. This scribe wrote on the Godhra train fire three months and again six months after the event. Questions raised then apparently remain unanswered.
The first question is who really masterminded the conspiracy? Three months after the fire it was asked: “Within hours of the Godhra incident the government said that the carnage was pre-planned by the ISI. It even named the main ISI suspect who had allegedly fled to Bangladesh. Now the government says that the Godhra carnage was not pre-planned but spontaneous.” Six months later it was asked:”Why did the government immediately after the Godhra tragedy state that the ISI had planned it and why months later did it say it had not?”
Has the judgment adequately adduced the reasons for the government’s volte-face? Six months after the Godhra fire it was pointed out: “The Ahmedabad-based Forensic Science Laboratory proved that the railway carriage was set afire from inside. The outside doors of the burnt bogie were locked. The arsonists there could only have entered the compartment through the corridor from the adjoining bogie. How did a Muslim mob pass through unprotesting kar sewaks and burn alive inmates of the adjoining bogie...? Circumstantial evidence suggests the possibility of foreign-funded saboteurs having infiltrated the Sangh parivar to act as enemies of the state. If investigations bear this out, these infiltrators must be hunted, exposed and punished. They could be the greatest threat to national security.”
This may have appeared like a wild surmise nine years ago. But after arrested Hindu terrorists have confessed to a court that they conspired to kill the present head of the RSS and to falsely implicate the former RSS head in the murder; after the Malegaon blast; after it has been established that accused members of the Sangh parivar committed the murder of an RSS colleague; after Swami Aseemanand’s curious confession and the even more curious acceptance of it by the government that turned a blind eye to the UN resolution clearly nailing and naming the Lashkar terrorists who perpetrated the Samjhauta train blast, does the surmise still appear implausible?
The truth is that the extremist wings of the Sangh parivar are very porous. These are open to infiltration by criminals, hoodlums and even foreign saboteurs. This is an angle that needs to be urgently probed by the government and addressed by the RSS.
The timeline of events related to the 2002 Godhra train carnage case in Gujarat:
- Feb 27, 2002: 59 people killed as mob attacks S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express - en route from Ayodhya to Ahmedabad - near Godhra railway station in Gujarat.
- May 22, 2002: First chargesheet filed by investigation agency, no mention of offences under the provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
- Dec 19, 2002: Second supplementary chargesheet filed, still no mention of offences under the provisions of POTA.
- March 2003: Special POTA court constituted to conduct trial.
- April 16, 2003: Third supplementary chargesheet filed, charging accused with offences under provisions of POTA.
- Nov 21, 2003: The Supreme Court stays probe into nine 2002 communal riots cases, including the Godhra train burning case.
- September 2004: POTA review committee arrives in Gujarat.
- May 16, 2005: POTA review panel gives opinion.
- April 2008: The apex court lifts stay on probe and constitutes a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief R.K. Raghavan to probe the case.
- Feb 12, 2009: The Gujarat High Court revokes POTA charges against all the accused in the Godhra train carnage case.
- April 2009: The apex court orders formation of special fast track courts for the nine 2002 riots cases, including the Godhra train burning case. Additional Sessions Judge P.R. Patel appointed for train carnage trial.
- June 2009: The special court begins trial in the train burning case.
- May 30, 2010: Trial court judge visits the scene of crime near Godhra railway station.
- Sep 28, 2010: Trial court reserves judgment.
- Jan 24, 2011: Godhra train carnage case verdict fixed for Feb 19, later deferred to Feb 22.
- Jan 25, 2011: Supreme Court declines to block Godhra carnage verdict.
- Feb 22, 2011: The special fast track court in Ahmedabad convicts 31 people, acquits 63 in the Godhra train carnage case.
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