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Forensic report on Godhra train burning dents Govt./VHP claims

An official forensic report on the deadly arson attack on a train allegedly by Muslims in Godhra town of western Indian state of Gujarat on February 27 has devastated government position on the issue and demonstrated conclusively that the event used to unleash the Gujarat pogroms was engineered by the extremist Hindus themselves.

Fifty nine Hindus returning from the temple town of Ayodhya were charred and the incidents sparked off one of the worst holocaust in the recent memory of independent India, which resulted in the killings of thousands of Muslims and rendering hundreds of thousands homeless. A new twist has been given to the incident and the mystery has only deepened.

Ahmedabad-based Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) after conducting intensive tests concluded that it is impossible that inflammable liquid could have been poured from outside into the train compartment. The FSL report proved that about 60 litres of such liquid was poured from inside the compartment before it was set on fire. This important conclusive finding immediately sets at rest the allegation that a Muslim mob poured inflammables from outside into the compartment and set the rail compartment ablaze.

FSL experts conducted an on-the-spot inspection and recreated the entire sequence of events of that fateful day. Dr MS Dahiya, Assistant Director of FSL, submitted his findings recently which stated, “Considering the time factor (hardly 45 minutes after the train left Godhra station), intensity of fire and the damage it caused to material objects, around 60 litres of highly inflammable liquid was used to burn compartment S-6.”

Dr Dahiya along with scientific officer MN Joshi, re-enacted the incident with a railway coach at the same spot where the crime took place. After several experiments they concluded that no inflammable liquid was thrown from outside into the compartment.

Providing details the report established that the height of the compartment windows from ground level at the scene of the crime was found to be of seven feet, which made throwing of inflammable liquid using a bucket or jerrycan next to impossible. To substantiate their findings the experts repeated the experiment from a three-feet elevation, some 14 feet away from where the compartment was burnt. Hardly 10-15 per cent of the water used during experiment could get inside the coach, while the rest spilt over to the tracks. The experts later poured nearly 60 litres of water inside the coach and found none of it spilling over from the open door or reaching the toilets.

“Under such circumstances, compartment S-6 should have caught fire from outside, the fire engulfing it from below, with the inflammable liquid pooled around the tracks. But the inspection of the tracks and burning pattern on the exterior of the compartment S-6 -- which had no burn marks below the window level -- confirm that the inflammable liquid did not come from outside,” the report said.

Contradicting earlier claims of the compartment being locked before the arson attack the report said that three doors were in fact open at the time of the incident. The burning pattern inside the coach, its spread, intensity and effect on the floor, described as “alligatoring” pattern, indicated that the fire spread rapidly, burning 80 per cent of the compartment. Also, there was no evidence of acid-like, quick burning liquid being used, as claimed by BJP functionaries.


After the new forensic evidence was made public, state Congress Party leaders alleged that the incident “could have been motivated by the ruling BJP and the VHP to raise communal passions.” 

“These people (BJP-VHP) are capable of burning innocent Hindus and getting votes in the name of religion. This is not a new thing and the coming days could prove that the BJP and VHP masterminded the Godhra massacre,” said Shankarsinh Vaghela, senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister.

The state government in its reaction Thursday July 4 said that the new evidence makes no difference to their case that the compartment was burnt down by a local mob. “The people who wanted to burn from outside also wanted to burn the coach from inside. Whether they tried to do it from outside or inside, what difference does it make?” said Purshottam Rupala, state Agriculture Minister.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had blamed the Godhra incident for sparking the riots. During his recent visit to Gujarat, Union Home Minister LK Advani (before being elevated as Deputy Prime Minister) said the Godhra incident was not a pre-planned terrorist act, only a pre-planned move to create disturbance. 

Even the state Chief Minister Narendra Modi went on record to say that the anti-Muslim pogrom in the state was a reaction to Godhra incident in which Muslims were alleged to have torched the Hindus. Interestingly, BJP leaders have been frequently changing their version on the arson attack being a terrorist act.

In the light of the above findings, the forensic report has arguably trashed the theory that Pakistan’s ISI was behind the incident. The report, undoubtedly, has provided the opposition parties with an opportunity to put the blame on both the Central and State governments for their acts of omission and commission.
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