//Godhra ghosts: Missing riot victims in mass grave

Godhra ghosts: Missing riot victims in mass grave

Hindustan Times, Rathin Das, Ahmedabad, December 27, 2005

The recovery of several skeletons from a riverbank near Lunawada, Panchmahals district, has once again lent credence to allegations that the Gujarat Police had clandestinely buried the bodies of Muslim victims of the post-Godhra riots to hide the magnitude of the violence.

Sources said at least eight skulls and many bones were recovered from the bank of the Panam river during digging over the past two days.

The skulls and bones are suspected to be of the 21 victims of the anti-Muslim violence in Pandarwada in Panchmahals on March 1, 2002 who were described by the police as ‘missing’.

At least 26 Muslims were killed in Pandarwada and Kidiyad during the VHP-sponsored bandh on March 1, 2002. But the FIR in the case mentioned only eight killings and the rest were reported as ‘missing’.

In a hurriedly conducted trial in October-November 2002, all the accused — including taluka BJP chief Jaswant Patel, VHP activists Mahendra Vakil and Kalubhai Maliwad — were acquitted by a fast-track court.

Lunawada municipal authorities, who visited the spot in the evening, admitted that they had buried some unclaimed bodies there in 2002.

In Delhi, sources said the CBI was rushing a team to the site for taking possession of the skeletons.