//Families of Godhra train fire accused hopeful

Families of Godhra train fire accused hopeful

Rohit Bhan, NDTV.COM

Sunday, March 5, 2006 (Godhra):

Four years after one of the worst communal riots in India, the Justice UC Banerjee Committee set up to investigate the causes of the Godhra train fire has ruled that the fire was accidental.

However, for those who were arrested in connection with the fire there is now a glimmer of hope.

Three-and-a half-year old Sajida’s grandmother Kherunissa narrates her woeful four years ever since her three sons were arrested for their involvement in the Godhra carnage.

Sajida has not seen her father Sadiq Khan as she was born six months after the Godhra police arrested him.

Sajid was among the nearly dozen people arrested from Rehmatnagar area on the outskirts of Godhra.

Police charged him and his two brothers for being part of the mob that targeted the train.

Living on hope

But with the Banerjee Commission report raising questions on the mob theory, the family is hopeful that their bread earners could be back home.

"I am now hopeful that my sons would come back and our woes will come to an end," said a helpless Kherunissa.

Kherunissa is not the only one in the Rehmatnagar area, predominantly a labour dominated area, who is awaiting a verdict on the fate of her sons.

Nafisa’s two sons, Sabir and Allaudin, were arrested by the police after the carnage.

The wait for her sons has seen even her eyesight diminish. She depends on her daughters-in-law who work as a maid servants in an adjacent locality for survival.

"My children are innocent yet they were arrested by the police. They said they will return soon, but when?," said Nafisa.

Traumatic period

It has been a traumatic period for Syed Umarji, son of Maulvi Umarji, who is accused of being the main conspirator behind the Godhra carnage.

Maulvi is lodged in the Ahmedabad Central Jail since last three years.

"It has been a difficult period for us. We have had to spend our whole resources on the defence of our father," said Umarji.

"He suffers from various ailments and needs medical attention Now with the report there should be an independent inquiry," he adds.

More than anything else, the Justice Banerjee report has raised hope for these families that it could pave the way for the return of their loved ones.