Friday, September 26, 2008

Godhra incident, pre-meditated conspiracy -- Nanavati Comission (Sept. 2008) (See full text of the Nanavati Commission Report of 18 Sept. 2008 on Godhra incident of 27 Feb. 2002)

Excerpts from the Nanavati Commission Report (Sept. 18, 2008) on Godhra Incident

223. Ajay Bariya in his statements recorded by the police on 4.7.2002 and J.M.F.C. Godhra on 9.7.2002 has stated that on 27-2-2002, he had gone to Godhra railway station at about 7.00 a.m. After referring to the incident of Mohmad Latika, he has stated that after the chain was pulled and the train had stopped, he had gone out of the station. Shaukat Lalu had met him there and told him to run alongwith them. So he had gone with them to the back side of Aman Guest House. Shaukat and others had then gone inside the room of Razak Kurkur and come out with Kerbas. He was asked to put one Kerba in the rickshaw which was standing nearby. Petrol like smell was coming from it. Thereafter others had also come there with Kerbas and they were all kept in the tempy. All of them had then got into that vehicle which after passing through Bhamaiya nala and Ali Masjid had stood near the railway track near ‘A’ cabin. Each one of them was asked by Shaukat Lalu to carry one Kerba with him. At that time he had come to know that the train was to be set on fire. They had run towards the train through the foot track. He himself was reluctant go with those persons but Shaukat Lalu had compelled him to go along with them. He has then described in his statement how the coaches were attacked and coach S/6 was set on fire. According to him, Shaukat Lalu and Mohmad Latika had forcibly opened the sliding door of S/6 leading to coach S/7 and entered coach S/6 through that door. Hasan Lalu had thrown a burning rag which had led to the fire in S/6.
224. It is rightly pointed out by the Jan Sangharsh Manch that there was no prior information with the polie and the authorities at Gandhinagar regarding the return journey of the Karsevaks from Ayodhya as can be gathered from the evidence of Mahobatsinh Zala (W-17), Raju Bhargav (W-31), DGP K.A. Chakravarti, Addl. DGP R.B. Shreekumar (W-995) and Ashok Narayanan, Chief Secretary, Home Department (W-994). Under the circumstances prevailing then, movements of Karsevaks was not a matter of concern. That appears to be the reason, why the police had not thought it necessary to keep itself informed about 171
their movements. Merely because the police was not aware about the return journey of Karsevaks from Ayodhya, it would not follow therefrom that no one had known about their return journey from Ayodhya. Anyone who wanted to know about it could have obtained that information easily. Therefore, it would not be correct to say that there was no scope for any conspiracy, as the alleged conspirators did not know that Karsevaks were going to return from Ayodhya by that train. VHP had already announced earlier its plan of taking Ramsevaks to Ayodhya for the ‘Purnahuti Maha Yagna’.
225. It is also true that some other train carrying Karsevaks going to Ayodhya had passed through Godhra railway station and the conspirators could have attacked them in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy to burn a coach carrying Ramsevaks and it was not necessary for them to wait till the morning of 27th February, 2002. Other possibilities cannot make doubtful what really has happened. Why the conspirators chose the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and why coach S/6 thereof was made the target, was obviously the result of many factors, including what was desired by and suitable to the conspirators. Unless the conspirators who took that decision dislose the real reason, it would be a matter of drawing an inference from the surrounding facts and circumstances. It appears that the decision to put the plan into action was taken on the previous evening. On 26.2.2002 at about 9.30 p.m. the first step for procuring petrol was taken. It is likely that the conspirators had decided to burn a coach of this train as it used to pass Godhra during the night. That would have enabled them to carry out their object without being noticed and identified. It appears that because the train was running late, they had to make some changes in their plan and circulate a false rumour regarding abduction of a Ghanchi Muslim girl. That was done in order to collect large number of persons near the train and induce them to attack it, so that they get sufficient time to go near the train with petrol. It was also an 172
attempt to show that what happened was done by an angry mob because of the earlier incidents which had taken place at the station. The mob consisting of the genral public would not have set coach S/6 on fire on the basis of the false rumour as their attempt in that case would have been to stop the train, search for the abducted girl and rescue her.
226. Ranjitsinh Jodhabhai Patel and Prabhatsnh Gulabsinh Patel serving at Kalabhai’s petrol pump were present at the petrol pump on 26.2.2002 at about 10.00 p.m. Both of them have stated that at about that time Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala had come there and told Prabhatsinh to give them about 140 litres of petrol. Petrol was filled in the carboys which were brought in a tempy rickshaw. Prabhatsinh has further stated that Jabir Binyamin, Shaukat Lalu and Salim Jarda had come in the tempy. Both these witnesses have explained in their statements why they had earlier told the police that they had not given loose petrol to any one in a carboy on 26.2.2002.
227. On the basis of the facts and cirumsances proved by the evidence the Commission comes to the conclusion that burning of coach S/6 was a pre-planned act. In other words there was a conspiracy to burn coach S/6 of the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and to cause harm to the Karsevaks travelling in that coach.
228. The confessions of Jabir Binyamin Behra, Shaukat alias Bhano son of Faruk Abdul Sattar and Salim alias Salman son of Yusuf Sattar Jarda have also been placed before the Commission for its consideration. Jabir Behra had made a confession before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Panchmahal District under section 164 of Cr.P.C. The confessions of Shaukat and Salim were recorded under the provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. It was contended by the Jan 173
Sanghars Manch that the Commission should not consider the confessions of the accused as the findings that may be recorded by this Commission are likely to cause prejudice to the accused in the trial which is pending before the Sessions Court. This objection was raised at an earlier stage of inquiry and it was rejected by passing an order. A Commission of Inquiry appointed under the Commission of Inquiry Act is only for the purpose of making an inquiry into a definite matter of public importance. It is neither a judicial inquiry nor a quasi judicial inquiry. The Commission has to make an inquiry and submit its report to the appropriate Government for taking further action. Though the Commission is given certain powers of the civil Court for certain purposes, the proceeding before it does not become a judicial proceeding. Even though under sub section (5) of section 5 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, the proceedings before the Commission are deemed to be judicial proceedings for certain purposes, they are not to be treated as judicial proceedings for other purposes. Under the Act the Commission can obtain information from any person and can cause an investigation to be made by any officer or investigating agency of the appropriate Government and can utilize such information for recording its conclusion. The only requirement in that behalf is that the Commission should satisfy itself about the correctness of the facts regarding the information obtained and correctness of the facts and the conclusion arrived at in the investigation report. The Commission can record statements of the persons by way of evidence but those statements cannot be used in any civil or criminal proceeding except for prosecuting a person making the statement if it is found to be false. The nature of the inquiry being thus quite different from a judicial proceeding we see no reason why the Commission should not take into consideration such confessions. The inquiry before by the Commission is a fact finding inquiry and therefore, the Commission can look into and consider any piece of evidence for finding out the correct facts provided it is satisfied about its correctness. 174
229. Jabir Behra in his confession dated 5.2.2003 has stated that he had gone with Salim Panwala to the petrol pump of Kalabhai for bringing petrol. Though the carboys filled with petrol were kept in the guest house of Rajak Kurkur. Salim Panwala had then gone to the Station to inquire whether the train was on time or was running late. Returning there from he had informed them that the train was running late by about 4 hours. Therefore, he had gone to home. He had again gone back to Aman Guest House at about 6.00 o’clock in the morning of 27th Along with Salim Panwala, Shaukat Lalu and others he had gone in the tempy along with carboys to a place near ‘A’ cabin. He has further stated that Mohmed Latika had cut the vestibule between coach S/6 and S/7 and entered the coach through that opening and he had also followed him. Both of them had then together by force opened the door of coach S/6. They had gone inside with two carboys. Shaukat Lalu had followed them and opened the door of coach on A cabin side. Through that door Imran Sheri, Rafik Batuk and Shaukat Lalu had come inside the coach with more carboys. Those carboys were thrown in the coach and immediately thereafter there was a fire in the coach. Shaukat Lalu has also in his confession dated 19.8.2003 given these details. Salim Jarda in his confession dated 20.06.2004 has also stated that he had accompanied Salim Panwala, Siraj Bala, Jabir and Shaukat Lalu while going to the petrol pump of Kalabhai at about 9.30 p.m. for procuring petrol. He has also referred to the message sent by the Maulvi Saheb. Since he was relunctant to take any further part in such a bad act Rajak Kurkur had not allowed him to go. He was forced to staye in one room of the Guest House. He has then stated that next day morning he, along with Jabir Behra, Irfan, Shaukat Lalu and others had put the petrol filled carboys in the tempy and gone near A cabin. Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala had also followed them. He had thereafter not taken any part in the attack on the train and had remained standing at some distance. All these three persons have retracted their 175
confessions but that by itself is not a good ground for throwing them out of consideration. When considered along with other facts proved by the evidence details given by this accused regarding the manner in which coach S/6 was burnt appear to be true. These confessions disclose that Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala were the two main persons who had organized execution of the plan and that what was being done was according to what was planned earlier and the directions of Maulvi Umarji. All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy. The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and disstabiblise the Administration.
229. The Commission is required to consider the role and conduct of the then Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers, Police Officers other individuals and organizations in the Godhra incident. The Commission is also required to consider the role and conduct of the then Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers, Police Officers (i) in dealing with any political or non-political organization which may be found to have been involved in the Godhra incident and also (ii) in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots and (iii) in the matter of recommendations and directions given by National Human Rights Commission from time to time. There is absolutely no evidence to show that either the Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers or Police offices had played any role in the Godhra incident or that there was any lapse on their part in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots or in the matter of not complying with the recommendations and directions given by National Human Rights Commission. There is no evidence regarding involvement of any definite religious 176
or political organization in the conspiracy. Some individuals who had participated in the conspiracy appear to be involved in the heinous act of setting coach S/6 on fire.
230. The policemen who were assigned the duty of travelling in the Sabarmati Express train from Dahod to Ahmedabad had not done so and for this negligent act of their an inquiry was held by the Government and they have been dismissed from service.

Ahmedabad. (G.T. Nanavati) (Akshay H. Mehta)
September 18, 2008 Chairman Member

1 comment:

Pratik Sinha said...

This is the real report.