Wednesday, April 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Godhra carnage not preplanned
RPF report dispels conspiracy theory
S. Satayanarayanan
Tribune News Service

Godhra, April 9
Fully burnt coach number S-6 of Sabarmati Express stands testimony to the dastardly incident in which 58 Ram sevaks were burnt alive on February 27. But the justification of subsequent communal violence that claimed the lives of over 800 innocents by the Modi government and the Sangh Parivar outfits as spontaneous reaction to the Godhra massacre has been dispelled by the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

While the entire country is being made to believe that the attack on Sabarmati Express was a pre-planned one as it was carrying a number of Ram sevaks returning from Ayodhya, the report of the RPF which registered the FIR and investigated into Godhra carnage dismisses this theory.

The first comprehensive report by the RPF, which is in possession of the Central as well as the Gujarat governments, clearly indicates that the gory incident on February 27 morning occurred purely due to the altercation between Ram sevaks and some hawkers (belonging to the minority community) near the Godhra railway station.

The detailed report thus blows to pieces some of the outrageous claims made by the Sangh Parivar outfits that travellers belonging to a “particular religion” were asked to disembark from the train at the previous station of Dahod; patients of a “particular community” were discharged from the civil hospital of Godhra a day before the incident; not a single student or teacher of a “particular community” was present in the schools of Godhra on that day and only officials of a “particular community” were on duty at the station.

The report describes the incident as an avoidable one and emphasises that but for the timely intervention of RPF, the situation would have been out of control.

The three-page report sent to the Director-General of the RPF, Rail Bhavan, New Delhi on April 3, 2002, states that Sabarmati Express (Ex Faizabad-Ahmedabad) arrived at Godhra station at 07.42 a.m. (late by 3 hours and 43 minutes) and started at 07.47 a.m. (within five minutes of its scheduled halt).

A large number of activists of the Bajrang Dal and the VHP were travelling in the train. They were raising slogans like Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata Ki Jai, etc. Subsequently, there was some altercation between some activists of the Bajrang Dal/VHP (who were travelling in the train) and a few hawkers (who belonged to local minority community) on the issue of payment, etc.

As the train started moving there was an incidence of alarm chain pulling. The Assistant Driver of the train attended the coaches and the train started again from Godhra platform at 07.50 a.m. Even as the train was moving, stone pelting took place on the coaches from outside.

The driver looked back and saw a mob of around 800 to 1,000 approaching the train from both sides. He immediately reported the matter to the Station Master on duty through a walkie talkie and asked for police assistance.

He also informed that the mob had set on fire Coach No. 93498 (S-6) by sprinkling diesel/petrol.

Immediately, RPF personnel reached the spot and opened fire, leading to the dispersal of the mob. While some RPF men stood guard to keep away the mob, yet others started rescuing passengers from the burning coach with the help of other passengers.

At least seven passengers were rescued from the burning coach, thanks to ASI Nawab Singh, who was earlier in the Fire Branch.

In the meantime, passengers from other coaches got down. The RPF personnel stood guard around the passengers as the unruly mob was still at some distance from the track. Even as the police personnel were trying to tide over the situation a few shops were set afire on the other side of the track and provocative calls were given from a local mosque on a loudspeaker.

This perhaps enraged the crowd and it started rushing towards the passengers but the timely arrival of additional force and opening of fire by RPF Commander S.N. Pandey and his men prevented any further damange, the report says.

Then the first batch of grounded passengers were cleared to Ahmedabad by train no. 266 UP passenger train at 12.10 p.m. Rest of the stranded passengers were taken in the Sabarmati Express, excluding coaches S-5 and S-6 to Ahmedabad escorted by Sub Inspector Sanjeev Dubey under heavy police protection.

The same day 41 persons were taken into custody and were charged with several offences, including attempt to murder, arson, causing damage to public/government property, etc.

The RPF has arrested 67 persons so far in connection with the Godhra incident.Back


Modi must go: People’s Front
To observe April 17 as protest day
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 9
The People’s Front is going to observe April 17 as protest day on Gujarat to demand the ouster of the Narendra Modi government

A statement signed by People’s Front Chairman Jyoti Basu said for more than a month, Gujarat had witnessed barbaric violence directed against the Muslim community following the gruesome attack on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra and that was why the Front had decided to call for a big popular mobilisation on April 17 to demand Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s removal.

The Central Government should ensure that the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission regarding the investigation and trial for the crimes be immediately implemented, the statement said.

The Gujarat Government, headed by Mr Modi, had become infamous for the way it had dealt with the violence, the front said.

Instead of firmly dealing with the rampaging gangs, the state administration had in a shocking manner, connived with their criminal activities.

The Constitution had been trampled upon and the state administration was totally biased against citizens who belonged to the minority community, the statement said, adding that the Vajpayee government had done nothing to check this brazen violation of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Saying that the BJP continued to defend the indefensible role of the Chief Minister, the front stated that in such a situation, if there had to be any restoration of normalcy and credibility to the state administration, it was imperative that Mr Modi be removed from chief ministership.

“Nothing less will assure the people of India that the rule of law will prevail in Gujarat”, the front said.

The front meeting was attended by CPM General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, former Prime Ministers V.P. Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, CPI General Secretary A.B. Bardhan and front convener Mulayam Singh Yadav.Back

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