There are certain deaths that are best ignored, there are certain victims of human brutality for whom no one cries, there are certain instances of inhuman behaviour by so called humans, which are almost always relegated to the bottom-most realm of our memory because that suits us well. Unfortunately, the bizarre incidence of burning alive of 59 individuals aboard the Sabarmati Express, at Godhra is one of those instances of human apathy. Their fault was only one – they were devotees of Bhagwan Ram.
In February, 2002, thousands of devotees of Bhagwan Ram, known as Kar Sevaks, left Gujarat for Ayodhya to take part in a ceremony known as ‘Purnahuti Maha Yajna’ organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on 17th February, on the occasion of Basant Panchami. They set off for their journey back to Gujarat on 25th February, along with other pilgrims aboard the Sabarmati Express. There were a total of 1700 pilgrims in the train. On the 27th morning, the train made it’s scheduled stop at Godhra, Gujarat at about 7:43 AM, four hours later than the scheduled time. While the train started leaving the Godhra station, someone pulled the emergency brake and the train stopped at a nearby signal. The train driver had later stated that the train had been pulled multiple times, judging by the instruments in his cabin.
As soon as the train stopped, a huge gang of about 2000 people entered the train and started pelting stones and attacking the helpless victims. Four coaches were set alight, the most noteworthy amongst those being the coach no. S6, in which 59 passengers died, being burnt alive. Out of those dead, there were 27 women and 10 children. 48 others were badly injured. Investigations revealed that the miscreants had petrol rags ready to be thrown at the train much before it arrived in Godhra, which indicates that it was a premeditated and well planned instance of hindu genocide by the members of the second largest religious community in our country – an act of vicious communal hatred and envy.
Congress led UPA tried to save the jihadis responsible for killing of Hindus in Godhra. There was an all out effort to pass off the macabre killing of hindu pilgrims at Godhra as an accident by the non BJP political parties led by the Congress and by the oppurtunist pseudo intellectuals of our country who are seen in the garb of human rights activists and social workers but are invariably found out to be carrying out a destructive malicious agenda. When the UPA govt. assumed power at the Centre in 2004, the UPA railway minister, Laloo Prasad Yadav appointed a former Supreme Court Judge, Umesh Chandra Banerjee to investigate the incident. Justice Banerjee submitted his report in January 2005, wherein he attributed the ghastly deaths of choking and burning of passengers trapped in the coaches set on fire, merely to an accident, an internal fire, as per ‘forensic reports’. He too, criticized the railways for their handling of evidence related to the incident.
However, the said report was challenged in Gujarat High Court by one of the survivors of the incident, Neelkanth Tulsidas Bhatia. In October, 2006, the court quashed the conclusions of Justice U. C. Banerjee as being “unconstitutional, illegal and null and void” and declared its formation to be a “colourable exercise of power with mala fide intentions”, and its argument of accidental fire “opposed to the prima facie accepted facts on record. The Court also directed that the said report should not be tabled in Parliament, thus foiling the attempt by the treacherous opposition and malicious intellectuals to save the notorious perpetrators of the barbarism on the Kar Sevaks, the Islamist terror mongers.
In 2009, a fast track court was appointed by the Supreme Court to try the Godhra killings, along with five other cases. The trial court commenced it’s hearings and pronounced it’s judgement in 2012, convicting 31 individuals and acquitting 63 others amongst those arrested in connection with the incident. 11 were given death sentence. In 2017, after the said verdict was challenged by both the convicts and the State, the Gujarati High Court announced it’s verdict revoking the death sentence of the 12 convicts to life term. However they directed the state and the railways to pay a compensation of 10 lakhs to each of the 59 victims of the carnage. However, the court did uphold the fact that it was a well planned incident of murder.
A local councillor from Godhra, Farooq Bana, who had formed the Board there with Congress support was one of the prime conspirators of the barbaric killings. After being on the run for 14 years and hiding under a fake identity in Mumbai, he was finally arrested in Godhra in 2016, while trying to meet his family there. Bana’s involvement in the Godhra carnage smirks of political conspiracy and support too, of such a ghastly incident. It makes one wonder if this was the reason to hush up the incident and attribute it to an accident. Another key conspirator, Rafiq Bhatuk, was arrested in February, 2021 after remaining in hiding for 19 years! According to the police, Bhatuk was involved in stone pelting and pouring petrol inside the compartments before they were torched by others. Three other co-accused, Salim Ibrahim Badam alias Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdul Majid Yousuf Mitha are still absconding and are believed to be in Pakistan according to the Gujarat Police.
It is strongly believed that the Godhra carnage, wherein so many innocent hindu pilgrims, including children, were burned alive, had triggered the Gujarat riots of 2002. Yet, is these riots which are talked about not the barbarism which triggered it. There is no element of doubt that hindus too, were killed during the Gujarat riots. Yet it is the hindus who are projected as the aggressors and demonized. Those politicians and intellectuals who keep lamenting about the Gujarat riots have never been heard mentioning even once about how some innocent, harmless hindu devotees were brutally burnt alive in a train compartment by some radical Islamists while they were returning from a pilgrimage. They didn’t do so because it doesnot suit their agenda, which is nothing but demonizing the hindus and projecting these very Islamists as victims. This is nothing but a malicious ploy of the Leftist-Islamists to play victim after committing acts of brutality on innocents.
However, it is imperative that we need to mention this today, on the 20th anniversary of the Godhra carnage, that a few innocent hindus had to pay the price of upholding their Dharma, but some of their very own forgot them or made no mention of their ghastly end despite the fact that they had harmed none nor did they provoke any violence. It is believed that an act of aggression on one would scare at least 10 people away – that is terrorism. Hence the Godhra carnage was meant to scare other hindu devotees away from practicing their dharma. How long can one remain in denial mode of this radical Islamist terror, where a hindu is being killed by them only for practicing their religion, not preventing them to practice theirs? Probably this question will not fetch any answers now or for a very long time.