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Godhra violence was not pre-planned: Police 
By Rajdeep Sardesai

Almost everyone in the government, both in Delhi and Gandhinagar, has claimed that the train tragedy in Godhra was a pre-planned conspiracy. The reality however may be very different. Investigating officials have now confirmed that they have found no evidence so far of any wider conspiracy. Based on documents and interviews with the key officials involved in the investigation, NDTV brings you this exclusive report from Godhra.

No evidence on wider conspiracy
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) in Godhra has written to the rail board, discounting the pre-planned conspiracy theory. It says the violence was the result of events at the Godhra station itself on February 27.

The RPF document claims: "A large number of activists of the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad were in the train. They were shouting slogans like Bharat Mata Ki Jai and Jai Shri Ram.

There was an altercation between the activists and a few hawkers who were selling eatables on the issue of payment. The vendors were from the local Muslim community." 

The RPF has also pieced together a time schedule of events that led to the tragedy.
7:42 am - The Sabarmati express entered Godhra station.
7:47 am - It was ready to depart. This is when the hawkers began pelting stones.
7:50 am - The chain was pulled to stop the train.
7:55 am - The train resumed its journey, but the stone pelting continued.
8 am - The chain was pulled for a second time.
8:07 am - A crowd which had gathered began to burn the bogie, and only dispersed after the RPF had resorted to four rounds of firing.

Other investigating officials from the state railway police confirmed this sequence of events.

Rakesh Asthana, DIG, CID (Crime), also confirmed that there was no evidence so far of any larger conspiracy.

However, there are still some unanswered questions:
While the RPF officials claim that no fire tender was stopped from reaching the site, the CID inquiry has the statement of a fire engine driver claiming that he was stopped.
While the RPF officials claim that none of the five municipal councillors who are allegedly involved were on the spot when the incident occurred and are victims of a frame-up, the CID investigators claim that they have evidence of the involvement of these men in the mob violence.

Ironically, Gujarat Home Minister Gordhan Zadaphiya, who has all along insisted on a wider ISI-Pakistan conspiracy, now seems vague on the nature of the conspiracy angle. "The investigations are still going on and till they are complete, itís difficult to say anything," said Zadaphiya.

While an interim chargesheet will be filed soon against the 59 people arrested so far for murder and rioting, the conspiracy theorists in Delhi and Gandhinagar may be confronted with a very different ground reality. (NDTV, 3 May 2002).

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