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Current Affairs ( 26 Sept 2008, NewAgeIslam.Com)

My truth, your truth: A tale of two panels

By Ashish Mehta, IANS,

25 September 2008 - 4:29pm.


Ahmedabad/New Delhi : Two probe panels set up by two governments have come out with two conflicting versions of a shocking tragedy six years ago whose after-effects continue to be felt in Indian politics. Will the truth behind the Godhra train-burning ever be known?


The investigative commission of Justice (retd.) G.T. Nanavati and Justice (retd) Akshay Mehta, set up by Gujarat's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Narendra Modi March 6, 2002, has concluded that the burning of a coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra town on the morning of Feb 27, 2002 was a well-planned conspiracy.


It said Godhra-based Maulvi Umarji hatched the conspiracy in the Aman Guest house in the west Gujarat town and two people procured 120 litres of petrol for the purpose.


The train was stopped as it pulled out of the Godhra railway station, the S-6 and S-7 were stoned for 10-20 minutes and the S-6 coach was set on fire, it found.


The incident claimed 59 lives, many of them Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists returning from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh where they had participated in a campaign to build a grand Ram temple there.


It also triggered state-wide communal carnage, one of the worst in independent India, killing 1,167 people - most of them Muslims.


The panel report, tabled in the Gujarat assembly Thursday, has virtually given a clean chit to Modi and his colleagues, saying there was no evidence to incriminate him or any member of his cabinet, even as rights bodies maintain his police force was biased and the violence could have been stopped early on.


The Nanavati-Mehta panel's findings, however, contradict the conclusion of the U.C. Banerjee committee set up by the Railway Ministry Sep 3, 2004.


The Banerjee committee noted "a preponderance of evidence" that the fire "originated in the coach itself without any external input".


"The possibility of an inflammable liquid having been used is completely ruled out as there was first a smell of burning, followed by dense smoke and flames thereafter."


The Modi government was quick to object to the Banerjee committee findings and approached the Gujarat High Court, which Oct 13, 2006 declared the setting up of the Banerjee Committee to probe the Godhra train carnage was “illegal, unconstitutional” and “null and void. The court also said that the committee's report shall not be tabled in parliament.


The reactions from main political parties to the two reports, like the reports themselves, are on predictable lines.


According to BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, the Nanavati-Mehta report is "the most extensive, exhaustive and scientific report" on the train-burning, while the Banerjee report was “ill-prepared and politically motivated”


Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, on the other hand, said: "It (the Nanavati-Mehta probe) cannot be called a bona fide investigation."


Mukul Sinha of the Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) who represented the violence victims before the Nanavati-Mehta investigation panel termed its report as "absurd".


"The part one of the report is not supported by credible and independent evidence. Everything in it is based on police official Noel Parmar's report which has been rejected by the Supreme Court," Sinha told IANS in Ahmedabad Thursday.


"It is a travesty of justice as the accusations were made against the police in the post-Godhra riots and yet the very same police's report has been used to bring out this report," Sinha said.


Will the whole truth ever come out? The Nanavati-Mehta panel will submit its second and concluding report, focusing on the communal violence, by December, while a Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) will submit its report on the sectarian strife around the same time.




Nanavati Commission report – lies, lies and lies ahead

By Jamsheed Basha

26th September 2008

Retired Supreme Court Judge G.T. Nanavati, headed a two-man commission appointed by the Gujarat Government in March 2002 to probe the Godhra train carnage and the riots that followed. In reply to this, Union Railway Ministry appointed Retired Supreme Court Judge U. C. Banerjee, to inquire into the Godhra train burning incident. Ironically, Justice Banerjee submitted his 164 pages Report in January 2005. But Justice Nanavati took his own time and tabled his 168 pages Report I in September 2008. A close look into these reports would reveal the following:
There was a hue and cry in the country especially in the Saffron Brigade Camp, when Justice Banerjee submitted his report in January 2005 calling it politically motivated aimed at tarnishing the image of Narendra Modi government. In a nutshell, Justice Banerjee held that post-Godhra violence was unfortunate as the fire in the S-6 coach of Sabramati Train was an accident and indicts former divisional railway manager BNB Modgil and a highly placed railway protection force officer for their callous reports on the fire in S-6 coach. It rules out the FSL report that at least 60 litres of inflammable liquid was poured from a wide mouthed container inside the coach. He questioned in his report,
“Is it possible that any miscreant or a few of them would enter the coach and pour 60 litres of petrol and have the same ignited in the presence of about 150-200 people belonging to VHP or Bajrang Dal activists? As predicted, BJP and other Saffron Brigades including Modi rejected this report as politically motivated and waited for the outcome of the self-appointed Nanavathi-Mehta Commission Report.

True to his salt, Justice Nanavathi, tabled the report on the expected lines. When the whole world erupted against Modi and his men, even USA went to the extent of denying visa to the person who is called by some “the Butcher of Gujarat”, Justice Nanavathi came out with the Part I of his Report giving clean chit to the much tainted man, relying heavily on the investigation report by Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by Modi himself. Not resting with that Nanavati-Mehta Commission also absolved the karsaveks of any wrong doings during the riots.

What a travesty of justice, a highly placed Justice like Justice Nanavati and Justice Akshay Mehta could so heavily depend on the partisan report of the SIT set up by Modi and came to conclusion that Maulvi Hussain Umarji of Godhra was the mastermind behind the incident. Naturally, Cong, Left and allies reacted angrily to the report whereas there was joy and jubilation in the Saffron Brigade Camp as if this partisan report has saved Modi from gallows. Political parties in one voice reacted to the Report of Nanavati Commission, saying that it was expected as it was set up by Modi, who was the principal accused in the Post-Godhra riots that claimed over 1000 persons and crores of worth properties damaged.

Nobody in India or the world is willing to buy the theory of Nanavati Report that the train burning was a pre-planned conspiracy. Now the critics asked whether the next part of thereport dealing with incidents in which mostly Muslims were killed in state-wide riots supposedly to avenge the killing of Ramsevaks, will also scream conspiracy. But the Commission, by giving clean chit to Modi and his men, has already given insight into what lies ahead in the second part of its report.

Reacting angrily, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, We are not surprised by the findings. It is a commission created by the principal accused Narendra Modi to investigate into the system of the state on which he presides. Ever alert Lalu Prasad Yadev said that it was ironic that the report was handed over to the liking of the main culprit. And said,Nobody would believe, Modi was innocent.

The Left Parties too reacted angrily. CPI Leader Gurudas Dasgupta said that the report was unacceptable and that they were flabbergasted as it was a partisan report. CPIM said dividing the report into two parts was politically motivated and raised many questions.

What is asked in the streets of many cities is where was the need for the Commission to sit for so long from March 2002 to September 2008 if they have to say at the end of it that Modi was innocent and there was no wrong doing on the part of the Ramkarsevaks? They could have said this much earlier. Every one wondered how two reputed Supreme Court Judges could come out with such a partisan report simply to earn the good will of this infamous man Modi. How could two Commission headed by two renowned Judges of Supreme Court could come out with two contrasting reports. One held Modi responsible while the other absolving him of all wrong doings. The whole world knew it that Modi and men were actively engaged in inciting post-Godhra riots and gained politically thereafter. There are many loop-holes in the Report of Nanavathi and it is for the legal luminaries of all hues to examine and bring the truth out in open so that the common man could judge it. 

Ironically, there was no immediate Muslim reaction to this report. It is a fact that Muslims in hundreds were killed and their properties looted in broad day light right in the presence of the local police looking the other side. The whole world joined in condemning the role played by Modi and his men. The wounds of the riots have not healed and the horrible memories are still haunting the affected people in Gujarat, this Nanavati Report has added fuel to the fire.

This is a highly a partisan report and the Central Govt should come out to denounce it. How can one rely on a report of a Commission set up by the main culprit and perpetrator of the crime? How could that report be an impartial report? These and many more questions would arise in minds of the people affected. The blood of the innocents killed in the riots cry for justice. But no one is there to render justice and when the very guardians of justice come out with such a partisan report, where would the common man seek justice?  Why won’t minorities feel insecure in such a state while their kith and kin are languishing in jails for years together without any trial? 

It is time for all peace loving people to join hands in condemning this report as a partisan report not worthy of evaluation.

 26 Sep 2008 06:52:32 -0000 [12:22PM IST]