Friday, March 3, 2006 (New Delhi):
The Justice UC Banerjee committee has ruled that the fire in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra was accidental.
The fire in the train on February 27, 2002 sparked communal riots across Gujarat in which hundreds of people were killed.
Justice Banerjee, a retired Supreme Court judge, had already mentioned a similar view in his interim report in January last year.
The report has been criticised for being politically motivated, but Justice Banerjee has stood by his interim report that the fire was no act of terror.
The report clearly debunks the NDA’s argument that there was a conspiracy theory behind the attacks.
Some say that Justice Banerjee’s committee was set up to counter the committee set up by the BJP government to investigate the train fire.
Many also argue that the real story of what happened that day has been lost in a war of committees.
The committee set up by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was headed by Justice GT Nanavati, also a former Supreme Court judge.
Justice Nanavati, who is on his fourth extension, says he has not ruled out either possibility – accident or terror.
Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav then appointed the UC Banerjee Committee, saying that the railways should have had their own enquiry right after the fire.
But a war broke out between the two committees. Justice Nanavati asked the Banerjee Committee to hand over their interim findings, which they refused.
When the Banerjee Committee made its interim report public, Justice Nanavati questioned those findings, saying it’s not the final version.
According to sources, after submitting the interim report, new evidence had come to light which only consolidated his earlier findings that it was an accident
The Railway Ministry will now study the report.
"UC Banerjee report is very clear that it was just an accident.
"Since Parliament is in session whatever has to be done will be taken up in the Parliament," said Lalu Prasad Yadav, Union Minister for Railways.
"BJP raised this issue out of nothing," he added.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said that after this report, Narendra Modi should take responsibility for Gujarat violence.
However, BJP leader Arun Jaitely said that his party has rejected this report