Friday, February 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Key accused held, remanded

Maulvi Hussain Umarji, a key accused in the Godhra train carnage
Maulvi Hussain Umarji, a key accused in the Godhra train carnage, was arrested by the police on Thursday. — PTI photo

Godhra, February 6
Maulvi Hussain Umarji, a key accused in the Godhra train carnage, was arrested here today and remanded in police custody for five days.

The Special Railway Police investigating team produced the maulvi before the Vadodara Railway Magistrate’s Court instead of Godhra, apprehending tension following a bandh call given by the minority community in protest against his arrest, which passed off peacefully.

The special team had sought a 14-day remand in view of Umarji’s alleged involvement in the incident, in which 59 kar sevaks were burnt alive in the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express on February 27 last year near Godhra railway station.

His arrest sparked an instant protest from members of the minority community who observed a bandh, putting up the shutters of their shops. The members of the majority community also shut their shops apprehending violence.

The maulvi’s arrest by the police from the Signal Falia area in the wee hours followed disclosures by one of the accused, Zabir Bin Yamin Behra, who claimed that Umarji was the brain behind the train carnage.

The 56-year-old religious leader was arrested in a joint operation by the railway and city police.

Behra, during his confession before city Chief Judicial Magistrate yesterday, alleged that the maulvi had “masterminded” the carnage and instigated youths for “planned attack” on February 26, a day before kar sevaks were to return from Ayodhya after participating in “shila poojan”.

The police had yet to arrest two other accused — Farukh Bhanna, the disqualified member of Godhra civic body and Salim Panwala, who still remain absconded.

No untoward incident was reported during the bandh, the police said tonight.

The maulvi, a timber trader, was the only minority community leader who made a representation before Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, during his Godhra visit after the communal violence in April last year, demanding protection for minorities in the state.

The Godhra carnage investigation headed by DIG (Crime and Railways) Rakesh Asthana has led to the arrest of more than 75 persons, mostly tea vendors and locals of the Signal Falia area, who were reported absconding after the incident. PTIBack

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