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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Godhra’s truth, again

Ashok Malik's attempt to find the ‘Truth about Godhra’ (IE, Feb 1), lacks any logic and merely repeats the arguments put forward b...

Written by Ram Puniyani |
February 4, 2005

Ashok Malik’s attempt to find the ‘Truth about Godhra’ (IE, Feb 1), lacks any logic and merely repeats the arguments put forward by Narendra Modi’s politically motivated analysis about the Sabramati coach burning immediately after the incident. Rather than going into the substance of the Bannerjee Committee Report and the plea of the letter from intellectuals released by ANHAD, he concentrates on the political calculations as to what people like him were expecting from the report and why this report is being taken lightly by the political class. The real issue is this — what had happened and how was it used to engineer the massive carnage in Gujarat.

His concern is nowhere close to the concern intellectuals who have signed the letter have shown for a just and fair process to get at the truth of Godhra. The only hole he is able to dig out in the Bannerjee Committee Report is that it ignored the police firing and the method the judge used in giving his opinion about another coach fire.

The core point of the Bannerjee Committee Report concerns the conspiracy theory. Putting in 140 litres of petrol from outside to burn kar sevaks holds no water for the following reasons. One, every conspiracy requires precise timing. The Sabaramati Express was running late and no one knew this. Accidents are more likely in uncertain schedules. Two, that the outside conspirators pulled the chain is impossible as the chain was pulled for the second time, probably by kar sevaks, as some of them had been left behind. Three, that the vestibule next to S-6 was cut open is impossible to believe as the train stopped for a mere five minutes. Four, that 140 litres of petrol was poured from outside is impossible to believe. The forensic lab report has confirmed that petrol could not have been poured from outside. The absence of traces of hydrocarbons debunks this theory yet again. The pouring of petrol in such huge quantity would result in massive fire in which most of the coach passengers would have died. The type of injuries suffered by the victims belies this theory yet again. The injuries found mostly superficial burns in the upper part of the body while a petrol conflagration would result in severe burn injuries in lower parts of the body. Five, it is known that the kar sewaks had picked up a tiff with the hawkers and also tried to molest a girl. This could have led to the stone throwing from the outside.

The ANHAD letter is focused on Pota and its deliberate misuse and victimisation of a particular community, which is happening blatantly in Gujarat. They central issue is whether we can ensure that democratic norms prevail and deliver justice to the innocents — those whose only crime is that they belong to a ‘wrong religion’?

The writer is secretary, Centre for Study of Society & Secularism, Mumbai

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