[ Saturday, March 04, 2006 09:19:43 pmTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
AHMEDABAD: The Narendra Modi establishment tried its best to prove that a Muslim mob conspired to set the Sabarmati Express bogey on fire, but Justice U C Banerjee has refrained from blaming anyone.
The fire killed 59 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya on February 27, 2002, in Godhra station, leading to the worst-ever riots in the state. More than 1,000 people died in the subsequent carnage.
The Banerjee report, however, might just impact the hearing of the Godhra train-burning case in the Supreme Court on March 28.
Petitions demanding shifting of the Godhra probe outside the state by families of the victims and the accused are among those to be heard.
Right now, the trial in this case has been stayed. Moreover, the central Pota review committee has already suggested that Pota be dropped in the Godhra case.
The Nanavati-Shah commission also probing into the Godhra carnage has already sought the Banerjee papers to be treated as evidence in its own investigations…
Obviously, the Gujarat police is outraged, even as groups fighting for the riot victims rejoiced. "How can his interim report and the final report read the same?
Obviously, he has stated whatever he thought, without acknowledging some of the evidence available," said director general of police, AK Bhargava, who had booked the 131 accused in this case under Pota.
The special investigation team (SIT) under inspector general of police Rakesh Asthana has already arrested some 100 persons under Pota and blamed a cleric, Maulana Umarji, based in Godhra, of masterminding the attack on S-6 coach.
More recently, it initiated a move to get the Interpol track down key accused Salim Panwala and Farukh Bhana said to be in Pakistan.
From Gujarat, additional DGP RB Sreekumar, superintendents of police Rahul Sharma, Raju Bhargava and JK Bhatt and former Panchmahals collector Jayanti Ravi have testified before Banerjee.
Human rights activist Cedric Prakash of Prashant called it a "vindication of what several from civil society had been maintaining all along".
"What is horrendous is that so many people met with a tragic death. Without conclusive evidence a whole community had to be targetted, demonised and brutally attacked and that too with the connivance of the state government," said Father Prakash.
The VHP too is outraged. Deepak Shukla, VHP’s lawyer at the Nanavati-Shah commission, told TOI, "This report is simply meant to gain political mileage.
When the railway claims tribunal has compensated victims of this incident stating they were victims of a violent attack under Section 124 (A) of the Railways Act, how can this commission make such conclusions?"
He also stated that the Gujarat high court had already stayed implementation of the report and will hear the petition challenging formation of the Banerjee commission on Monday.