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VHP leader was officially given custody of bodies of 54 Godhra train fire victims

Jaydeep Patel,the VHP leader who was arrested along with BJP leader Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Gam massacre case.....

Jaydeep Patel,the VHP leader who was arrested along with BJP leader Maya Kodnani in the Naroda Gam massacre case,was officially handed over 54 bodies of people charred to death on the Sabarmati train in Godhra on February 27,2002,though he had no authority to receive or take them away.

The post-Godhra riots had flared up in Ahmedabad city a day later,soon after the VHP took out a funeral procession of some of the bodies Patel had taken away.

On February 27,2002,the Panchmahals district collector’s office handed over 51 unidentified and three identified bodies to Patel. The bodies were given through a letter by the mamlatdar (a post equivalent to a tehsildar) and the Executive Magistrate of Godhra. The letter,which Patel produced in the court of the Ahmedabad sessions judge while applying for anticipatory bail in February this year,is now with The Sunday Express.

The letter addressed to Jaydeep Patel bears the subject line: ‘Lash Moklva Babat (With reference to sending the bodies)’. The letter requests Patel to accept the bodies and also gives a break-up of all the bodies with their tag numbers and the trucks in which they had been sent.

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Asked how the district collector’s office could hand over the bodies to Patel,then Godhra District Magistrate Jayanti Ravi,who is now Secretary,Higher Education,said,“I do not know if those bodies were given to anyone. I don’t want to discuss it.”

Additional Director General of Police,Shivanand Jha,who is part of the Special Investigation Team that’s probing the Godhra and post-Godhra incidents,didn’t comment either. “I do not want to discuss this. Whatever we had to say,we have put in the report before the Supreme Court,” he said.

First published on: 19-04-2009 at 01:31:28 am
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