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Evidence behind Godhra carnage uncovered

Evidence behind Godhra carnage uncovered

Author: Shai Venkataraman
Publication: NDTV News
Date: March 4, 2002

The police in Gujarat claim that they have evidence to indicate that people outside the city were also involved in the February 27 attack on the Sabarmati Express.

Officials of the state's anti-terrorist squad have joined the police investigation to uncover the larger picture.

Five accused remanded

The five accused in the Godhra mayhem case, including Mohammad Hussain Kalota, President of the Godhra Nagar Palika and convenor of the city Congress minority cell, were remanded to ten days police custody today.

Kalota and other accused Siraj Jamsa, Zabir Kala, Abdul Sheikh and Abdul Rauf Yayman were picked up yesterday by the anti-dacoity squad of the city police from Polan Bazar area during a combing operation.

They were produced before Chief Judicial Magistrate of Godhra N P Naik, who remanded them to police custody till March 13.

Twenty-seven people have been arrested so far in connection with the incident. Three of them belong to the Congress.

Police officials alleged that Kalota was the mastermind behind the incident. According to eyewitness accounts, Kalota was present at the scene from the beginning to the end and was seen goading the mob.

Anti-terrorist squad officials also say that the local police have confidential reports on Kalota indicating his involvement in past communal riots in the city.

Indications of ISI involvement

The police is also probing the involvement of Pakistan's ISI in the massacre. The say that the people arrested in connection with the attack travelled abroad recently.

Vipul Vijay, DIG, Anti-Terrorist Squad, Gujarat, referred to the possibility of ISI's involvement in the attack but refused to give details.

According to Vijay, "We have certain names. They are names of very prosperous people who travel abroad. They are people with connections and false passports. We will be pursuing them with vigour and will not depend on the local police in our pursuit."

Congress councillors apprehended

Two councillors, Salim Shaikh and Abdul Dantia also from the Congress are in police custody for their involvement in the carnage. Dantia and Shaikh also played an active role in the 1980-81 communal riots in Godhra.

Two other Congress councilors, Farukh Bhana and Bilal Haji are however absconding.

NDTV has learnt that Bilal Haji owned four passports under different names. Local fire officials say that Bilal Haji prevented them from reaching the scene of the Sabarmati train mayhem on time.

Local Congress refutes allegation

The local Congress however insists the accused have nothing to do with the party. Ajit Singh Bhatti, President, Youth Congress, Godhra, remarked, "They fought elections on their own. They are not part of us."

The Congress leadership in Gandhinagar has also prepared a report that claims the incident was provoked by kar sevaks who were shouting slogans from Ratnam to Godhra.

Violence in Dahod

Meanwhile, violence has been reported from the adjoining places including Dahod district. Two religious leaders of a minority community were killed at Godasar and a place of prayer damaged.

Police also recovered eight bodies, of four children and four women from Kesharpur village from Limakheda taluka. Thirteen rounds each were fired by the police at Santrampur and Rameshra towns of Panchmahal district (Godhra is its taluka headquarters) following a sudden spurt of violence there.

Eight persons were hurt in the violence at Santrampur and one killed in police firing while four shops were looted and later burnt at Rameshra. (With PTI inputs)

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