Thursday, February 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Sabarmati Express set ablaze, 57 dead
‘Ram sevaks’ among victims, shoot-at-sight orders in Godhra

Smoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire
Smoke pours from the carriage of a train on fire in Godhra, Gujarat, on Wednesday. Up to 56 persons have died after a train carrying "Ram sevaks" from the controversial site of a razed mosque was set on fire.

Men carry a charred body
Men carry a charred body of a train passenger in Godhra, Gujarat, on Wednesday. 

Charred bodies of passengers
Charred bodies of passengers lie in a train in Godhra, Gujarat, on Wednesday. — Reuters photos


Ahmedabad, February 27
As many as 57 passengers, most of them “Ram sevaks” returning here from Ayodhya, were killed and 43 injured when miscreants set on fire four coaches of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station in Panchmahal district of Gujarat today, state Home Secretary K. Nityanandum said.

Among the injured were 31 men, nine women and three children. Of them, 20 passengers, who sustained serious burn injuries, were admitted to a hospital at Godhra, Mr Nityanandum said.

One of the coaches of the 18-bogie train was completely burnt, he said.

Indefinite curfew was clamped and the shoot-at-sight order issued in Godhra town immediately after the incident as large-scale violence erupted.

The police fired five rounds to contain the rioting mobs in the town.

Gujarat Minister of State for Home Gordhanbhai Zadafia told the state Assembly that stringent action would be taken against those who indulged in violence.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was present in the House, assured the agitated members that a high-level probe had been ordered into the incident.

Mr Modi announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh to next of kin of those killed in the attack.

Later, Mr Zadafia rushed to Godhra for an on-the-spot inquiry. Health Minister Ashok Bhatt also rushed to the town.

Some “Ram sevaks” were still missing as rescuers rummaged through the badly gutted bogies, sources said.

According to the sources, some miscreants boarded the train coming from Faizabad via Ayodhya, at Godhra station at around 8 am and attacked two coaches carrying “Ram sevaks”, with petrol and acid bombs. They also threw stones at them, the police said.

The railway police opened fire to quell the attacking mob who threw stones at the train which was stopped at the signal point near the station.

Sporadic violence was reported in Godhra town after the news about the attack spread. There were reports of gunfire in the town.

Meanwhile, passengers of the Sabarmati Express disembarked at Anand when it reached the railway station at 3 p.m. and killed a man waiting on the platform to go to Ahmedabad. Two women, who accompanied him, were injured and hospitalised. Earlier, when the train reached Vadodara, the police had to lathi-charge to disperse a mob at the railway station.

There were clashes in the Neelam Lodge area in curfew-bound Godhra, too, where hundreds of people, in groups, threw stones at one another. The police had to lathi-charge and use teargas to disperse the mobs. Deputy SP Neelesh Parmar said four rounds were also fired in the air to quell the mobs.

The police has arrested 30 persons in Godhra in connection with the violence.

Eyewitnesses said the miscreants numbered about 500. They said that as soon as the train reached Godhra, some of the miscreants had attacked the passengers chanting religious songs inside the compartment.

However, even after some passengers brought this to the notice of the policemen present on the platform, no action was taken, the eyewitnesses said.

As the train left Godhra station, one of the miscreants who had boarded it, pulled the chain alarm after some time to halt the train a km away. It was here that a large number of stone-pelting miscreants set the coach ablaze by throwing petrol bombs and dousing it with kerosene and petrol. The VHP has called a ‘Gujarat bandh’ tomorrow in protest against the killing of “Ram sewaks” at Godhra. PTI, UNIBack

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