Concerned Citizens Tribunal - Gujarat 2002
An inquiry into the carnage in Gujarat

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1.1.The Sabarmati Express train started from Ahmedabad for Ayodhya on February 22, 2002, with kar sevaks on board. It appears that on its onward journey to Ayodhya, there was an incident at Dahod railway station where the kar sevaks indulged in vandalism and terrorising of Muslim vendors at the station. According to another version, the Dahod incident took place on the return journey. There is no clear evidence of the date of the incident but it is clear that it took place.

1.2. There was another incident between Rudauli and Daryabad stations (closer to Faizabad) wherein the kar sevaks attacked Muslim passengers, including innocent women and children. When some young man protested against this, he was thrown off the train between Patranga and Rojagaon stations. Several women, badly wounded and covered in blood, jumped off the train at Rudauli station. The kar sevaks got off and started attacking those whom they identified as Muslim from among those present at the platform.

1.3. At Rudauli station, other similar incidents occurred, such as forcing the Muslims to shout, ‘Jai Shri Ram!’, pulling the beards of some of them, including stabbing with trishul. Despite the severity of these incidents, there was no prompt action taken either by the railway authorities or the police; nor were those seriously injured rushed to hospital. It appears that both local Hindus and Muslims condemned the attack and that Muslim religious leaders appealed for peace and urged that there should be no retaliation. (Report in Jan Morcha, published from Faizabad on February 25, 2002, two days before the Godhra incident on the return journey of the same Sabarmati Express– see Annexure 7 Volume 1.)

1.4.As the train travelled back from Ayodhya on its return journey to Ahmedabad, kar sevak girls and boys armed with trishuls and lathis, were getting down at every station and shouting slogans like, "Mandir Vahin Banayenge!", "Jai Shriram!", "Muslim Bharat Chodo, Pakistan Jao" ("Muslims, Quit India! Go to Pakistan"), "Dudh mango tho kheer denge, Kashmir mango tho cheer denge" ("Ask for milk and we’ll give you kheer (pudding), But ask for Kashmir and we’ll cut you up"). Many passengers felt harassed by this behaviour but were constrained to silence because the kar sevaks had captured all the reserved seats and the train was jam-packed.

1.5. The train reached Godhra station at 7.30 a.m. (three hours late), on February 27, 2002. There were certain incidents on the platform. There were some reports to the effect that a Muslim girl was molested by the kar sevaks who attempted to pull her into the train. The attempt to take her into the train was averted due to the intervention by Muslim vendors at the Godhra railway station.

1.6. In a separate incident, a Muslim tea vendor had boarded coach S-6 with an aluminum tea kitli and plastic cups to sell tea. Passengers started to buy tea from him but he was insulted by some of the kar sevaks and sent out of the coach. It appears that some kar sevaks, identified by their saffron head bands and trishuls, had climbed onto the roofs of coaches of the Sabarmati Express as it stopped at the Godhra railway station, stripped themselves and made obscene gestures at Muslim women residing just opposite the station, who had come out to perform their morning chores. There was also some stone throwing, both from within and from outside the compartments.

1.7. As the train left the platform, at 7.48 a.m., it was immediately stopped by someone pulling the chain. The obvious reason for this was to enable some of the kar sevaks who were still left behind on the platform to enter the train. The train proceeded for about a kilometre. At Singal Falia the train stopped. Whether this was on account of someone pulling the chain or otherwise is not clear. The engine driver, at that point of time, had only seen someone from outside pelting stones at the train though not at coach S-6. Soon thereafter, coach S-6 was on fire. The question is, how did the fire occur?

1.8. The version of the government appears to be that the Ghanchi Muslims residing near the railway station, who had gathered in large numbers, threw fireballs into the train and that resulted in the fire. The government version also has it that these Ghanchi Muslims wanted to attack the kar sevaks, and that there were about 2,000 Muslims who were bent on attacking the train.

1.9. It may be stated at this stage that the full capacity of the train is 1,100. But, in fact, the train at that time had about 2,000 passengers, of which about 1,700 were kar sevaks. As far as coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express is concerned, the reservation capacity is 72. However, it was jam-packed on that day. Only one coach was burned and even in that coach one is not sure how many passengers were kar sevaks. The train had 11 coaches with vestibule connection and the kar sevaks were spread all over the train. So why did anyone target coach S-6? If 2,000 Muslims had gathered there, could they not have attacked the other coaches? Again, did anyone try to come out from the other coaches? If it is reasonably presumed that some of the passengers, including kar sevaks, rushed out, did anyone attack them? On all these questions there is no satisfactory answer.

1.10. In all, 58 bodies were found in coach S-6, out of which 26 were of women, 12 were of children and 20 were of men. It appears that 43 persons sustained injuries, of whom only 5 were admitted to the hospital. The rest were treated for minor injuries like bruises, and were allowed to go. Out of the five admitted to hospital, one died, and the rest were discharged after 3 or 4 days.

1.11. Since the bodies were charred beyond recognition, it was not possible to identify anyone on the basis of physical features. The collector of Godhra told the Tribunal that only five bodies could be identified on the basis of articles or things which were on their person. One was the local station master’s wife who had boarded the train at Godhra to go to Vadodara. She had a metal tiffin box in her hand and she was thus identified. Thus, no one could say with certainty that the dead bodies were all of kar sevaks.

2. Mystery of the Fire

2.1. A very significant fact is that coach S-6 was the only one that got burnt. The fire did not even spread to the other coaches. It is also not clear whether the train was stopped because of the fire in the coach or the coach was set on fire after the train stopped. If it was the latter, why was the train stopped at all? It is reasonable to presume that because of the fire in the coach, someone must have pulled the chain and the train was stopped by the engine driver.

2.2. As the train left Godhra station, all the windows and doors of Coach S-6 were all closed. Since there was stone throwing on the train, it is reasonable to presume that similar was the situation in all the other coaches. In other words, as the train stopped, nobody from outside was in a position to identify any particular person in any particular coach, so as to target any particular person/s. If kar sevaks were the target, they were overwhelmingly present in the entire train and the whole train could have been set on fire. The fact that the fire did not even spread to the remaining coaches, is a clear indication that the fire originated in that compartment itself. That also explains why only persons in that coach died. In all probability, as the fire broke out, there was extreme panic and, the compartment being over-packed, many of the able-bodied persons managed to escape through the vestibules to the other coaches, leaving mostly women and children behind, who must have succumbed to the smoke and suffocation and fallen down in a pile, one over the other. The evidence also suggests that the passengers had stacked their belongings against the doors and it was just not possible for anyone to escape from or enter the coach.

2.3. On 7-5-2002, we inspected the coach and the site where it was burnt. The site where the train stopped is an elevated bund. From the ground level, the height of the bund could be about 12-15 feet and it is a slope. At the top, there is hardly enough space for 2,000 persons to assemble on either side of the track. Assuming that so many had gathered at that spot, the crowd would be spread over a much larger area than the stretch of coach S-6. This is only to indicate that if the government version is true, the other coaches would have been as easy a target as Coach S-6. Again, if one takes into account the height of the bund and the height of the train, and if fire-balls were to be thrown at the train, the outside of the coach should have shown signs of being charred. But we found that there were no such marks below the windows; the charred marks were to be seen only around the windows and above that height. This is a clear indication that the fire started inside the coach and the flames leaping out of the windows singed the outside of the compartment, above window level. Therefore, even to the naked eye, it was clear that the fire was from within and not from outside.

2.4. Our own observations were subsequently confirmed by the reports of the Forensic Science Laboratory. Among its other findings, the relevant section of the Forensic Science Laboratory (State of Gujarat, New Mental Corner, Ahmedabad – 16, Spot Investigation Report No.2 regarding CR No. 9/2002, Godhra Railway Police Station) filed by Dr. MS Dahiya, assistant director, states:

2.4.1. "It was found that the height of the window of the coach was around 7 ft. from the ground at the place. Under this circumstance, it was not possible to throw any inflammable fluid inside from outside the coach from any bucket or carboy, because by doing this, most of the fluid was getting thrown out side. At the place of the incidents, there was one heap of grit, of three feet height at a distance of around 14-ft,. in the southern side of the coach. Water was thrown on the windows of the coach with the help of bucket standing on the top of the said heap, in that case only about 10 to 15% of the water went inside and the rest of the quantity was spilled outside itself. Thus, if the inflammable fluid is thrown from outside, then a major part of it would fall around the track outside and catch fire and cause damage to the outer part of bottom side of the coach. But after examination of the coach and the track, no effect was found of the fire on bottom side below the windows of the coach. By taking into consideration this fact, and also the burning pattern of the outer side of the coach, a conclusion can be drawn that no inflammable fluid had been thrown inside from outside the coach."

2.4.2. "There also appears to be no possibility that any inflammable liquid was thrown through the door of the bogie."

2.4.3. "By standing in the passage between the compartment of the bogie and the northern side door of the eastern side of the bogie, water was poured towards the western side from a container with a wide mouth like a bucket; in that case most part of the bogie was covered with 60 liters of water. By pouring the water in this manner, the water went only towards the West and no part of it came out of the door, nor did it go towards the latrine side."

2.4.4. "On the basis of the above experimental demonstration, such a conclusion can be drawn that 60 liters of inflammable liquid was poured towards the western side by using a wide mouthed container by standing on the passage between the northern side door of the eastern side of the S-6 coach and the compartment of seat No. 72 and coach was set on fire immediately thereafter. If the period after the train had started from Godhra Railway Station, intensity of fire, the degree of burn of the objects that were inside the bogie etc. are taken into account, it can also be concluded that a large quantity (around 60 liters) of highly inflammable fluid was used to set the aforesaid fire and that the fire had spread very rapidly."

2.4.5. By observing the condition of the frames of the windows of the coach, it appears that all the windows of the coach were closed during the time of the fire."

2.4.6. Thus, it is clear that the fire came from inside. We have seen the inner side of the coach. The intensity of the fire was such that even the iron rods, the seats, the fans were all burnt to such an extent that we found them twisted and molten out of shape. We also found rice and wheat partly burnt and scattered all across the floor of compartment S-6. Some of the witnesses had stated that kar sevaks had stoves in the train, but we did not find them in the coach. The FSLR shows that for such an intensity of fire, 60 litres of inflammable liquid had to be poured into the coach, "by using a wide mouthed container". The question is, where is this container? There is no evidence of anyone carrying 60 litres of inflammable liquid. At what point of time was this taken inside the coach, or into the passage? Who was travelling in the train? If such a large number of kar sevaks, armed with trishuls and in such an aggressive mood, were inside the train, how could Ghanchi Muslims enter the train? And how could they have carried so much petrol openly, or even clandestinely, for that would have been found out in no time. So the mystery of the fire remains, the only thing certain being the fact that it came from within.

3. Was Godhra Pre-Planned?

3.1. The evidence as analysed above clearly indicates that the incident was not pre-planned by the Muslims, as alleged by the government. In this connection, we would like to refer to a statement made by the IGP, Railways, PP Agja recorded by the Times of India on March 29, 2002 to the effect that there is no evidence of a pre-planned conspiracy behind the Godhra incident. "The case is still being investigated and if there was some deep conspiracy, then we are yet to find it,’’ said Shri Agja. He further told The Times of India, standing in front of the railway police station on the platform where the trouble began:

3.2. "According to the sequence of events as found by the police, all was not well in coach S-6 of the Ahmedabad-bound Sabarmati Express on that day. A group of unruly Ram sevaks had boarded the train at Lucknow without reservations and had put to discomfort the 66 genuine passengers of the coach. Some of the ticket-paying passengers had to sleep on the floor; so overcrowded had the compartment become that the ticket collector who came aboard the train at Ratlam (two stations before Godhra) was not allowed to enter the coach.

3.3. "At Godhra station, the hawkers on the platform started stoning the train after an unsavoury incident, especially targeting Coach S-6, because some occupants of the coach had given offence. At any point of time, there are some 250 hawkers on the station. Some of them carry stoves with kerosene in them. All of them live in the slum called Signal Falia, next to the station.

3.3.1."This means it is not surprising that a crowd could collect at the station so fast. The people, who live cheek by jowl in the slums next to the station, include a fair share of criminals indulging in railway crimes like looting, pick-pocketing and stealing of goods of passengers and also railway property. All of them are Ghanchi Muslims and they are uneducated, without any jobs and poor."

3.3.2. All these things are not sufficient to come to any conclusion that the attack on S-6 coach was a pre-meditated one.

4. Immediate Reaction of the Administration and the Government

4.1. The local district magistrate/collector was the first to reach the scene of the incident.

4.2. The Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee made a statement in Parliament at noon on February 27, asking people to maintain calm since the Godhra incident was a response to "slogan shouting". "An inquiry is being held and it will ascertain facts – what happened and why did it happen? But, from the preliminary reports, it appears that the train was stopped maybe because slogans were being shouted in the train and clashes took place. The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry. " (Extracts from a compilation by the PMO on PM’s reactions to the event thereafter to media persons at Hyderabad House, New Delhi, February 27, 2002, posted on the PM’s website).

4.3. From 8.30 a.m., just after the fire on the Sabarmati Express took place, until 7.30 p.m. that evening, repeated statements by the Godhra district collector, Smt. Jayanthi Ravi relayed on Doordarshan and Akashwani (radio) stated that "the incident was not pre-planned, it was an accident."

4.4. The chief minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi, accompanied by health minister, Shri Ashok Bhatt and other cabinet colleagues, arrived in Godhra around 2 p.m. that day. After meeting the collector, he decided to take the bodies to Ahmedabad. It was the decision of Shri Modi to take the badly charred bodies to Ahmedabad against the advice of the district administration. Initially, the chief minister and his colleagues had wanted to take the bodies in the same train onwards to Ahmedabad. The district administration strongly advised against this for law and order reasons, after which a motor cavalcade drove the bodies to the Sola Civil hospital at Ahmedabad.

4.5. Evidence presented before the Tribunal and confirmed by the administration revealed that 40 shops belonging to Muslims of Godhra, many of whom lived at Signal Falia, were demolished around 5.30 p.m. during curfew hours on Feb 27 itself. While the unauthorised nature of the establishments and their location being a security hazard were the reasons offered by the administration, the strange choice of timing for the demolition bears mention. What was the motivation for the civil administration in undertaking this act that caused an economic loss, of some magnitude, to one community alone, on this day?

4.6. At 7.30 p.m., chief minister, Shri Modi made a public broadcast in which, for the first time, he put forward the ‘ISI hand behind the Godhra incident’ version.

4.7. Thereafter, from the next day onwards, the Prime Minister, Shri Vajpayee called it a "national shame" and then home minister, Shri Advani also ominously pointed to the "ISI hand." Union defence minister, Shri George Fernandes, too, joined the chorus of voices, alleging that there was "a foreign hand" behind Godhra.

4.8. What could have been confined to Godhra and Godhra alone was taken and broadcast to all of Gujarat state. All that followed was directly related to Shri Modi’s decision to carry Godhra to the whole state instead of containing the issue therein.

5. Bandh Call and the Preparation

5.1. On the evening of February 27, after visiting Godhra, Shri Modi announced that there would be a state bandh the next day. This was after the VHP and BD had already given the bandh call. Thereafter, the chief minister called a meeting of senior police officers. At this meeting, specific instructions were given by him in the presence of cabinet colleagues, on how the police should deal with the situation on the bandh day. The next day, i.e., on the day of the bandh, there was absolutely no police bandobast. The state and city (Ahmedabad) police control rooms were taken over by two ministers, i.e., Shri Ashok Bhatt and Shri Jadeja. Repeated pleas for help from people were blatantly turned down.

5.2. Senior ministers from Shri Modi’s cabinet organised a meeting late in the evening on February 27, in Lunavada village of Sabarkantha district. Shri Ashok Bhatt, the state health minister and minister Prabhat Singh Chauhan from Lunavada attended. At this meeting, a diabolical plan was drawn and disseminated to the top 50 leaders of the BJP/RSS/BD/VHP, on the method and manner in which the 72-hour-long carnage that followed was to be carried out.

5.3. According to confidential evidence recorded by the Tribunal, these instructions were blatantly disseminated by the government, and in most cases, barring a few sterling exceptions, methodically carried out by the police and the IAS administration. There is no way that the debased levels of violence that were systematically carried out in Gujarat could have been allowed, had the police and district administration, the IPS and the IAS, stood by its constitutional obligation and followed Service Rules to prevent such crimes.

5.4. The bandh call made possible exactly what the chief minister and the BJP/VHP/RSS/Bajrang Dal leadership wanted to happen after the Godhra incident.

5.5. As is amply evident from the voluminous evidence recorded by the Tribunal, and substantive other evidence made available to it, investigating officials have yet to find any proof of the Godhra atrocity being pre-planned. Nonetheless, Shri Modi, union home minister, Shri Advani and others continue to reiterate the distorted version of the motive behind the incident at Godhra. The electoral and related advantages for these persons in power, set to gain from the misconceptions and prevarications around Godhra, need to be understood and exposed for what they are. Thousands of innocent citizens became victims to this cynical game of politics and the priorities for India as a country were derailed by these perpetrators of hatred and division, some of whom even hold the reins of government.

5.6. News of the deaths of passengers in Coach S-6, conveyed as the killing of kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, was used to fuel the rage of the other kar sevaks who then tried to attack a nearby mosque at Signal Falia. The police fired 30 tear gas shells and 14 rounds of live bullets to disperse them. The damaged coaches, S-5 and S-6 were detached, and the train departed with the rest of the passengers at 12.40 p.m. On the way to Ahmedabad, some kar sevaks reportedly stabbed 2-3 people at the Vadodara railway station, giving a clear warning of things to come. Inquest and post-mortem of all the recovered bodies was undertaken by 4.30 p.m. Under instructions from the administration in Ahmedabad, all the bodies, excluding those of the five passengers from the Godhra region, were dispatched to the Civil Hospital, at Sola, Ahmedabad, in a motor cavalcade. Shri Jaideep Patel of the BJP, and one of the main accused in the Naroda incidents, travelled to Ahmedabad along with the bodies.

5.7. It is apparent that by the evening of February 27, a well thought out scheme to extract maximum political capital out of Godhra had been launched. As part of this scheme, at around 2.30 a.m., the bodies of the kar sevaks were brought to Ahmedabad. Around 500 people were waiting outside Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad for the charred bodies to arrive from Godhra. By 3.35 a.m. on February 28, a convoy of five trucks led by a pilot Gypsy entered the hospital compound.

5.8. Sloganeering started: ‘Kar sevak, amar raho!’ and ‘Hindu ekta zindabad!’ as small bundles carrying the victims’ remains were off-loaded onto waiting stretchers. The mood was morose but tears were few. Anger welled in the eyes of bereaved relatives as each bundle – the remains of a Godhra massacre victim – was placed on ice slabs. Vows for vengeance and shouts of ‘Jai Shri Ram!’ resounded throughout the hospital compound as a martyrs’ honour was accorded to the Godhra victims. "For the nine from Amraiwadi who laid their lives for the country, there will be 90 more to replace. We had gone there for ‘yagna’ only, yet the kafirs (read Muslims) butchered the devotees. This time we will go and construct the Ram temple," said a waiting VHP man outside the hospital, as reported by the national media.

5.9. The state government and the administration, instead of appealing for restraint and peace, became the agents of a well-planned action against innocent Muslims of the state that was in fact projected as a ‘reaction.’ The corpses of the unfortunate victims of the Godhra arson were used to launch a statewide pogrom of decimation that has not entirely stopped to date.

5.10. A point to be noted is evidence recorded by the media, of ordinary victims of the Godhra arson, who did not wish to be part of any political project of "vengeance". The Times of India (March 3, 2002) quoted Govind Makwana, who lost his son Umakant (22) in the fire that engulfed coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express. "I am extremely disturbed by what is happening in our area. I had pleaded with folded hands to all who came to my son’s cremation to restrain themselves and maintain peace. Killing other people is not a solution. Losing a son is shattering, and I want no father or mother to suffer from this feeling".

6. Was ‘Godhra’ Allowed to Happen?

6.1. The crucial issue before the entire nation today is why ‘Godhra’ happened?

Who failed in their duty in preventing it?

6.2. Gujarat and indeed the whole country was on red alert due to the aggressive mobilisation by the VHP for building the temple at Ayodhya. In Mumbai, the police made as many as 8,000 preventive arrests in the first week of March, to keep the situation under strict control. In contrast, even after Godhra happened, the Gujarat police arrested only two persons in Ahmedabad, both of whom were Muslims.

6.3. A noticeable lapse in Godhra and in the anticipation and handling of the violence, was the blatant ignoring of the basic principles of law and order maintenance and governance in Godhra. There was utter and complete failure of law and order maintenance and governance, particularly given the chequered communal history of the town. An investigation into the background of Godhra shows that when disturbances erupted in 1965, the then collector promptly arrested both Muslims and Hindus whose names appeared in FIRs and within a couple of days the disturbances were curbed. Even after the October 1980 disturbances, the then collector, Smt. SK Verma immediately put the miscreants behind bars. If a similar, no-nonsense and non-partisan approach had followed the Godhra incident of February 27, by promptly apprehending the suspected criminals, tension would have been contained. And the chances of a vengeful and highly-organised spree of retaliatory killings that demonstrate every element of ethnic cleansing and genocide, would have been pre-empted. That this did not happen suggests a lack of intent on the part of those in government, to take prompt preventive measures in order to de-escalate the situation. In December 1992, a similar incident of provocation had occurred at Palej near Vadodara, but at that time, the state police cracked down on the Shiv Sainiks who had abused and provoked passengers and residents and thus squashed potential communal trouble within hours.

6.4. At Godhra, there is always one SRP company on duty. One Railway Protection Force contingent is posted on the railway station itself. At the RPF station, there are supposed to be 42 policemen in all. Generally, there are two constables per reserved compartment in a running train. The fact that kar sevaks were expected on this route and the fact that Godhra has a fragile communal history were, and are, themselves enough for additional precautionary deployment. Besides, as a district headquarter, Godhra has a police HQ, armed police, a control room, a town police station with eight chowkies, all equipped with telephones plus a taluka police station. It is the HQ of an SRP battalion, too, and it has a municipal Fire Brigade. All these factors are enough to make any responsible citizen wonder why adequate preventive deployment was absent during the Godhra arson.

6.5. The Tribunal met and recorded the evidence of both the collector and DySP of the Panchmahal district, of which Godhra town is the district headquarter. It is clear from the evidence recorded by us that on February 27, after the Godhra tragedy, though the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was called in, no adequate powers were given to it. Though curfew was declared in Godhra, the RAF men were made to sit in the officers’ mess, helpless, unable to do anything. It appears that though the Fire Brigade station is only 5 minutes away from the railway station, it took a while for the fire brigade to reach the torched coach. That day, there were only 3 SRP men on duty; of the 111 GRP (Government Railway Police) officers stationed at Godhra, only 2 or 3 were on duty. Two GRP jawans reached the spot within minutes; it is a matter of serious conjecture why they did not fire shots to disperse the mob.

7. Role of Fanatical Organisations

7.1. Godhra, and the tragic death of 58 passengers through gruesome burning, was picked up and propagated in Gujarat and all over the country by many fanatical organisations connected closely with the ruling BJP in Gujarat. These include the parent Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.

7.2. A serious and gross misrepresentation of facts was resorted to by these conglomerate organisations in a nationwide bid to create a hysteria over the Godhra tragedy and thus justify the state-sponsored carnage that was allowed to take place.

7.3. Within a fortnight of the statewide carnage, the RSS spokesperson, Shri MG Vaidya described it as the "natural reaction of Hindus" and gave a clean chit to the Modi administration in Gujarat, saying "no government could have controlled the upsurge." (The Times of India, March 16, 2002).

7.4. Worse still, the publications brought out by the RSS and its affiliates spread systematic and sinister misinformation about Godhra. For instance, in two publications brought out by the Hindu Samvad Kendra, Ahmedabad, the following ‘facts’ are listed to prove that Godhra was pre-planned:

u Passengers of a particular religion (read Muslims) were asked to get down at Dahod, the station before Godhra;

u The patients of a particular community (read Muslims) were discharged from the civil hospital of Godhra one day before February 27; not a single case against anyone from a particular community (read Muslims) was registered on February 27, 2002;

u Not a single student or a teacher of a particular community (read Muslims) was present in the schools of Godhra on February 27;

u Another canard that was spread deliberately was that no one from the minorities or the secular parties ever condemned Godhra.

7.5. The Tribunal investigated each of these allegations during its investigation and visit to Godhra. Each one of these reasons, propagated nationwide by these outfits, was patently false and used to generate sympathetic complicity to the gruesome state- sponsored carnage that has taken place. The fact that the district administration at Godhra and elsewhere took no initiative to scotch these fabricated stories, being used in the cynical and never-ending cycle of violence, speaks poorly of it and also reveals the state administration’s ineptness in coping with the menace that these organisations represent.

7.6. Among other things, the Tribunal is also in possession of half-a-dozen separate statements published by different Muslim religious leaders, independent persons and opposition parties, outrightly condemning the Godhra incident. Yet, repeatedly, the propaganda was unleashed that neither Muslims nor secularists have ever condemned the Godhra tragedy.

7.7. During the recording of our evidence, senior officials of the administration and police who deposed before the Tribunal on assurance of anonymity expressed concern about the fact that in most talukas of Gujarat, CDs and hate pamphlets were circulated by the VHP during March 2002, spreading ill-will, rumours and falsehoods about the conduct of Muslims. To effectively counter this trend, the administration only had to swoop down on xerox centres that were being used to reproduce bulk copies of such incendiary material.

8. Conclusion

8.1. Though all accounts suggest that there was provocation enough by the kar sevaks, nothing can justify the crime of torching 58 persons alive. The guilty need to be brought to book and punished. The tragedy and crime simply need to be placed in the charged and venomous atmosphere that the country and the polity has been held victim to, where sane, rational impulses are being overwhelmed by the politics of rage, revenge and violence.


Published by: Citizens for Justice and Peace