THE verdict is loud and clear. The 2002 Godhra carnage was a jehadi conspiracy to put to death pilgrims returning from Ayodhya in the Sabarmati Express. Judge P R Patel of the designated fast track court dismissed out of hand the presumptuous claim that the attack on the train was in reaction to a minor altercation between a few pilgrims and a Muslim vendor at the Godhra railway station where the train stopped for just five minutes. He critically examined the evidence produced before him to come to the conclusion that the events that led to the burning alive of 59 pilgrims including 26 women and 12 children, and the involvement of the conspirators and perpetrators of the crime had been proved beyond a shadow of doubt. The judge meticulously traced the sequence of events that showed that the conspiracy was hatched on the previous evening at Aman Guest House and 140 liters of loose petrol in seven carboys was procured and taken to the place of the attack on that fateful morning. He had absolutely no doubt that a Muslim mob that was present on the platform on the morning of February 27, 2002 incited violence by spreading canards about abduction of Muslim girls by pilgrims. This malicious lie was also exploited by the conspirators and Islamists of Godhra – a town notorious for countless communal riots – to mobilize and instigate the mob of about 900 armed Muslims. Provocative slogans and exhortations to kill the kafirs over loud speakers from a nearby mosque propelled the armed mob to attack the train with stones, acid bulbs, bottles and burning rags. They cut the vestibule of coach 7 to forcibly enter coach 6 and poured “sufficient” enough petrol and threw burning rags to set the coach on fire. Those who tried to escape from the burning coach were brutally beaten up and seriously injured. Such a large mob of armed persons, the judge averred, couldn’t have reached the site of the carnage within minutes in the absence of a pre-panned conspiracy. Also such large quantity of petrol couldn’t have been procured and brought to the site within 10 minutes without prior planning. The mob was so focused that it attacked only those coaches in which pilgrims were traveling.
The court found the killings so gruesome, merciless and brutal that it sentenced 11 convicts, including Haji Balal, a known Congress worker of Godhra, to death citing the case as one of the rarest of rare. Twenty other convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment. However, the court acquitted 63 accused presumably because the prosecution failed to convince the judge about their direct involvement in the crime. However, the friends and relatives of the victims as also the legal fraternity is surprised and pained over the acquittal of Maulvi Umarji and Bilal Hussain Kalota, the then Congress-supported President of Godhra Municipal Committee, who are the ones who were instrumental in mobilizing the armed mob as per the findings of the Justice D S Tewatia committee that investigated the crime on behalf of the Council for International Affairs and Human Rights. Having said that, one must commend the work put in by two Special Investigating teams, including the Supreme Court appointed SIT headed by former CBI Director R K Raghwan that solved the complicated criminal conspiracy.
While this historic verdict is a resounding vindication of the Gujarat Government’s stand that it was a Jehadi conspiracy to attack Hindu pilgrims involved in Ayodhya movement, it is a total denunciation of the malicious propaganda unleashed by the Congress, its allies, and foreign-funded anti-nationals masquerading as human rights activists. The calumny industry composed of Teesta Seetalvads, Arundati Roys, and lackeys of publishers and owners of newspapers and TV channels that masquerade as journalists that spread canards, including the most ridiculous one that the RSS was behind the carnage to provoke riots, also stand thoroughly exposed. Do they have the moral courage to apologize to the relatives and friends of innocent pilgrims who were roasted alive for no fault of theirs? And will they tender a sincere apology to the RSS for implicating the organization in the crime without any rhyme or reason? The verdict has shamed the practitioners of vote bank politics who had tried to project it as an “accident”. Lalu Prasad Yadav, the then Railway Minister in UPA-I Government had appointed a spineless Justice U C Bannerji who signed on the dotted lines to brazenly declare the carnage as an “accident”. His report carried no credibility. The popular perception is that the brazen exercise was meant to influence minorities in the Bihar assembly polls. The report was so absurd and motivated that the apex court barred its release.
Sections of media that is part and parcel of the “secular-liberal” brigade that promotes minorityism and is hell bent to demonise nationalists have no where to hide. The Hindustan Times carried a blazing headline “Ayodhya reaches Godhra” virtually justifying burning alive of innocent pilgrims to avenge demolition of the disputed structure. Noted columnist Kuldeep Naryar – infamous for his yearly candlelight drama at the Wagha border – wrote in one of his columns that the theory that a Muslim mob set the Sabarmati Express on fire had no rationale and that it was a product of a distorted mindset. Whose mindset is distorted and communal, Mr. Nayar? The judge found no merit in your wild theory.
Instead of letting the judicial process take its own course, Islamists are once again stoking communal tensions by turning the court verdict into a communal issue. Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind (JUH) has come out with a ridiculous statement that all those convicted of murder and worse were “innocent”. Its General Secretary Maulana Mahmoud Madani said JUH would extend all possible help to convicts to appeal against the judgment in the High Court. He is, however, right in expressing surprise that it was for the first time that a court had given death sentence on criminal conspiracy charges while acquitting the main conspirator. This aspect of the verdict indeed needs to be argued before the High Court as Maulvi Umarji is widely believed to be the mastermind of the criminal conspiracy that led to the horrible carnage. It did provoke one of the worst communal riots in Gujarat that claimed lives of 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.
Their malicious campaign having failed to make any impact on the judiciary, sections of media, foreign funded NGOs and “secular” crowd is now blaming the judiciary for taking nine long years to decide the case that led to the pain and misery of those who have now been acquitted. They conveniently forget that it were the human rights industry that filed petition after petition to derail the judicial process and ultimately succeeded in persuading the Supreme Court to suspend the trial. Unfortunately, the apex court took more than five long years to decide that the case should be entrusted to an investigating agency from outside the state. The inordinate delay turned the process into nine long years of heart-breaking wait for the families of the victims to see that the culprits were brought to justice. In the process, several of those now acquitted had to languish in jail for nine years. A large part of the blame for this unnecessary delay lies at the door of NGOs and self-styled protectors of human rights.