From Godhra to Nanavati report - in a nutshellSeptember 25th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS
Gandhinagar, Sep 25 (IANS) The first part of the report by the commission - headed by Justice (Retd) G.T. Nanavati and having as member Justice (Retd) Akshay Mehta - to investigate the Godhra train burning of 2002 that led to statewide riots was Thursday made public. A quick look - from the tragedy to the long awaited report:- The Sabarmati Express train burning tragedy in Godhra town, about 140 km from here, on Feb 27, 2002 killed 59 passengers, many of them Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists returning from a campaign in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh
- The incident, which Chief Minister Narendra Modi labelled as conspiracy, triggered statewide communal violence, in which 1,167 people, many of them Muslims, were killed. Opposition parties and rights bodies termed Gujarat’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s handling of the violence as biased.
- On March 6, 2002, the state government constituted a one-man investigation commission of Justice (Retd) K.G. Shah, who had given a controversial verdict in a case of communal violence in Ahmedabad in 1985. Its terms of reference included investigating the Godhra incident as well as the ensuing sectarian strife.
- Following objections and criticism from rights activists and opposition parties, the state government appointed Justice Nanavati, who also headed a similar inquiry panel on the anti-Sikh violence in New Delhi in 1984, to the commission.
- The commission examined 46,000 affidavits and heard 1,106 witnesses even as it needed 10 extensions.
- Justice Shah died in March. He was replaced by Justice (Retd) Mehta.
- The two-member panel submitted the first part of the report, focusing on the Godhra tragedy, to Modi Sep 18. Minister of State for Home Amit Shah tabled it in the assembly Thursday.
- The panel found that the train burning tragedy was pre-planned. It said Godhra-based Maulvi Umarji had hatched the conspiracy and 140 litres of petrol was procured the day before the tragedy.
- The finding is in contradiction to the finding of the Justice U.C. Banerjee committee, appointed by Railways Minister Lalu Prasad in 2005, which said the burning was accidental.
- The BJP has welcomed the Nanavati-Mehta report as “most exhaustive and scientific”, while the Congress has termed it an “eye wash” and “a murder of democracy”.
- The Nanavati-Mehta panel is expected to submit the second and concluding part of the report dealing with the communal violence by December.