Saturday, March 25th, 2023 04:38:53

Godhra Verdict Justice Prevails

Updated: March 19, 2011 2:08 pm

The Godhra carnage continues to dog the limelight even after the verdict was pronounced. In the case, 31 people were convicted as guilty for criminal conspiracy and 63 others were acquitted. A special court pronounced the death penalty for 11 convicted in the Godhra train burning and handed down life sentence to 20 others.

                Investigations into the incident has seen different political interpretations. Justice Nanwati commission had supported police theory of conspiracy while Banerjee commission appointed by the then Railway Minister had claimed that fire in S-6 was just an accident.

                The judgement is out now and it has made one thing very clear that the entire incident, in which 59 passengers were burnt to death in the S-6 coach of ill-fated Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, was caused by a group of people, who set the coach on fire in a pre-planned manner and it was not an accident as suggested by the UC Banerjee commission report.

                Some, however, say that it is more of a compromise “verdict” from the Indian justice system. First of all, it is hard to establish the fire broke out from outside, hence it was established that fire bomb was used. OK, even if fire bombs fell inside, naturally people will try to doze it off or throw it out. And, one fire bomb cannot burn an entire compartment so if we consider 10 fire bombs falling inside a moving train with steel bars on windows, there may be 100 bombs thrown into the train from outside. In that case some of these bombs can lose the target and hit next compartment in front or back. But there is no evidence of this. Besides, who locked the compartment from outside?

                A moving train cannot be locked from outside. Up to general knowledge the compartment can be opened even if it is locked from outside provided there is no additional locking device—like chains metal bars etc are used. But this was never mentioned. It looks that the entire unfortunate tragedy was nothing but a deep conspiracy for a reason to instigate and justify the anticipated riots.

                The acquittal of Godhra train-tragedy prime-accused Maulavi Hussain Umarji by a special fast-track court is another source of discomfiture for some sections in Gujarat. Gujarat police is already facing flak for several alleged fake encounters that took place under Narendra Modi as Chief Minister.

                The Maulavi’s son Saeed Umarji said: “From the very beginning, due to faulty investigation, my old father had been confined to prison for eight long years. I think big injustice was done to us.” However, he added: “Our faith in the judiciary got further strengthened.” Gujarat police had described him as the main accused who had ordered four of his lieutenants to mobilise a mob at the station to target the S-6 bogey carrying karsevaks on February 27, 2002. He was also charged with hatching the conspiracy in a meeting allegedly convened by him.

                Gujarat police arrested Umarji a year after the train-burning incident. His arrest was based on a statement made by an accused called Zabir Bin Yamin Behra, who had said Maulavi Umarji and Haji Bilal were two of the main conspirators. The trial court, which conducted the trial, accepted the confession made by Behra, who had stated Godhra was not the result of an accident or provocation but was a conspiracy. In 2008, when the Nanavati commission submitted its first part of the report pertaining to the train-burning incident, it held that the Maulavi had played a crucial role in hatching the conspiracy.

                At the same time, however, the verdict has brought to the fore the real face of Indian politics, proving that Indian political landscape is held hostage by ugly secular forces, which are hell bent to distort the face of reality. They are involved in sinister designs aimed at creating upheaval in various states, something proved by the people involved in the promotion of Naxalite movement. Unless the judicial decisions are in their favour, they challenge the very majesty of the court. At this juncture, I wish to recall the uproar which hit the nation when Allahabad High Court made it clear that the disputed site is Lord Rama’s birthplace. The secular media shed lots of tears, labelling it a flawed judgment based on faith and not on evidences and reason. In other words, it provoked the Muslim parties to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

              PANDORA’S BOX

Godhra verdict has brought some more controversy as even families of Muslims who found guilty are not happy with legal analysis of judgement. The families of 31 convicted in the Sabarmati Express train carnage case are shocked with disbelief and allege that the masterminds have been freed while their men who were facing petty charges have been found guilty.

                The verdict of the judge PR Patel has infused new life in the families of those who have been found innocent, while the family members of the guilty accused are aggrieved by the verdict. They allege that the names of the 31 accused have been chosen strategically as all of them belong to poor and middle-class families and have no strong backing.

                “We are shocked with the verdict as it is beyond our imagination. How can prime accused Maulvi Umarji and Muhammad Hussain A Rahim Kalota walk free when my brother has been found guilty?” said Farood, brother of Suleman Pir. Suleman is among those 10 people who were to be released in 2004. But before they could get out of the jail, the government introduced POTA and their bail was cancelled. Many families allege that their lawyers did not approach them during the course of the hearing and now they realise their mistake.

                The families of the convicted went to Sabarmati jail to see their men. On their way back, they talked to the media and expressed their feelings about the verdict. The verdict has badly affected a family whose four men have been declared guilty—Siddiq Abdullah Badam, Bilal, Shaukat and Md Abdulla Badam. There is no one to take care of the family. “Their old mother Sugra Bibi sells toys in Polan Bazar and just manages to survive,” said one of the relatives. Nobody has visited the families including lawyers and others looking after the case.

                “We don’t know why he was convicted. Let me tell you he is innocent. He was arrested almost two and a half years after the case. One day he was coming from the field in Amirpur and four-five policemen approached. They said that they wanted to chat with my husband—and he never turned up again,” said Naseem, wife of Shiraj Mohammad Meda, another convict. She does odd jobs in order to feed herself, her three daughters and a son. (AHL)

  It has become need of the hour to expose misdeeds of secular intellectuals—the parasites which breed on macabre practices. Ironically, they are the first ones to speak in high terms about honouring the supremacy of judiciary and respecting the verdict of court. However, this has never been the case. The Ayodhya verdict made the secular forces even question the intentions and judicial sense of judges, which is simply the case of contempt of court. The harsh reality is that secular forces operating in India, disguised as progressive forums, are more interested in pursuing the hate agenda in sophisticated forms. The main purpose of debates initiated by them is not to bring clarity on any issue but to create dichotomy of sorts, whose end purpose is to show constitutional bodies in wrong light.

                It’s no secret that even minor incidents related with minorities is blown out of proportion and secular press—be it in India or foreign lands—leaves no stone unturned in painting Indian constitutional bodies in wrong colour. Mukul Sinha, an activist lawyer heading the Jan Sangharsh Manch, said that the ill-feeling generated in a community will continue because the Godhra judgement takes cognizance of the conspiracy theory without any evidence of it. “There are many questions which remain unanswered. If there was a conspiracy, where did the information come from, more so when the train was five hours late? What was the previous plan if this second one was a conspired one?” he asked.

                Father Cedric Prakash, director of PRASHANT, a centre for human rights, justice and peace in Ahmedabad, termed the verdict a gross miscarriage of justice. He said that the verdict leaves several questions unanswered with many glaring gaps in it. According to him, the so-called “conspiracy theory” is totally hollow. While the original “main conspirators” are now acquitted, a hash job is blatantly evident in an attempt to stick to it, he said.

                Social activist and renowed dancer Mallilka Sarabhai reacted that considering that Babu Bajrangi had admitted in the Tehelka tapes that the train burning was part of the plot, yet he was not put behind bars, she was distressed by the judgment. Defence counsel in the Godhra case AA Hasan speaking to the media after the verdict said that the theory of prosecution was not accepted by the trial court to some extent. Elaborating on this aspect he said that the police personnel in cross-examination admitted that combing operation was carried in certain minority community areas and 70 accused were apprehended. He said that except railway personnel there were no witnesses. As far as rest of the accused are concerned, arrests were made on the basis of statements of VHP members and local politicians, he claimed. He also said that the court accepted that local politics may have played a role in these arrests. He said that the court accepted their submission that it was practically impossible to see and identify the accused who are believed to be standing beneath the roof of a cabin where the train halted.

                Counsel also claimed that the test identification parade was also not carried out and confessional statements of most of the accused were based on hearsay evidence. As per established law the same is not admissible, he claimed.

                In other parts of world, the massacre is condemned in strongest terms. Even the killings of Muslims in Gujarat generated strong response. However, the massacre of Hindus needs not be condemned, our secularists suggest. It needs to be justified in subtle ways. It needs to be seen as some “consequence”. It needs to be seen as a mere “accident”.

                How long should we accept this type of secularism?

 By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani from Godhra


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