An eyewitness to the Sabarmati Express carnage of 2002,Illyas Hussain Mullah,has been reported missing by the Godhra police from their protection. The police,apparently,reported it a day after his wife faxed a message in this regard to the designated fast-track court in the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad where in-camera trial of the case is going on.
Illyas was supposed to depose before the Supreme Court-appointed SIT today.
The Godhra police in its complaint dated February 18 at the B Division Police Station have stated that Illyas went missing from their protection at the Godhra circuit house on the afternoon of February 17. The fax message sent by Illyas wife,Tahira Bibi,dated February 17 stated that he went missing after attending the court at the Sabarmati jail on February 16.
According to the complaint lodged by the Godhra police on Thursday morning,Illyas was under their protection as he was to depose again in the court on February 18.
Illyas,along with his friend Anwar Kalandar,had left for Ahmedabad on February 15 for their deposition as eyewitnesses on February 16. While he collected the court summons in the jail,his deposition was deferred to February 18.
Assistant Sub-Inspector Ranchod Soma Baria of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) filed a missing complaint in the morning at the Godhra B division police station. Two policemen were with him. One had gone to fetch water while the other had gone to bring food when Illyas escaped on February 17 afternoon, said Sub-Inspector K S Chaudhary.
Meanwhile,Panchmahals Superintendent of Police
J R Mothaliya said they have launched a manhunt for Illyas.
We have the entry proof of my husband and Anwar at the Sabarmati Central Jail on February 16, said Tahira. She further said while the court was examining Anwar,Illyas was asked to wait for his turn. Chaudhary,however,said he had no idea about any application made by Tahira to the designated court.
Mullah had in an earlier affidavit stated that he was forced by the Godhra police to turn into an eyewitness for the train carnage or he would be named as one of the accused. He had submitted this affidavit while deposing before the Nanavati and Banerjee commissions. Tahira said the family spoke to him last on February 16.
When some lawyers inquired about him,we realised that he was not in Ahmedabad. And now today the Godhra police filed a missing complaint. We had no idea that he was in the circuit house at all, said Tahira.
Interestingly,Illyas went missing a day after another eyewitness Dilip Dasadia,a BJP District Committee Secretary,turned hostile in the court.
Illyas,who worked as an auto driver in 2002,was reportedly present at the Godhra railway station platform waiting for passengers on February 28,2002.