The unfortunate incident of burning of S-6 compartment of Sabarmati Express at Godhra in February 2002, in which 69 kar sevaks were charred to death, was the starting point of the infamous Gujarat massacre, which would be remembered as one of the most shameful chapters of Independent India’s history. It is a blot which would be never washed from the book of deeds of Sangh Parivar. Justice Nanavati, after six long years, has tried in vain to wash this dark spot.
The Narendra Modi government of Gujarat had appointed this commission to go into the circumstances that resulted in the burning of S-6 compartment and the subsequent events which resulted in massacre of over 2000 Muslims and uprooting of over two lakh persons as a result of widespread arson and disturbances instigated and enacted by Bajrang Dal, VHP, BJP and other outfits of Sangh Parivar. The national and international media had highlighted in great detail the atrocities and crimes against humanity committed with the active support of Modi government.
It is unfortunate that Justice Nanavati has not done justice to the overwhelming evidence against the Modi government. He has tried, though unsuccessfully, to whitewash the heinous acts by giving a clean chit to Modi and his government.
Public memory is proverbially short. It is worthwhile to recall that the then Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission, Justice Verma has personally visited some of the victims’ camps and said that the atrocities were unbelievably inhuman. Thereafter, during hearing of some Gujarat related cases, the Supreme Court had openly criticised the partisan attitude of Modi government and held it responsible for abetment to the atrocities. It had even remarked that if they did not know how to rule with justice they should resign.
Now Justice Nanavati Commission has said that the fire in the compartment was not accidental but was a result of the conspiracy of a group of Muslims. On the basis of unsubstantiated evidence he has held responsible the local leader Umarjee and his followers for setting the compartment on fire. He has repeated what the then Prime Minister, Mr. Vajpayee, the so-called liberal face of BJP, had said in a BJP conclave at Goa that ghastly massacre was a result of the burning of 69 kar sevaks.
The forensic reports and other enquiries had long back clearly established the fact that the fire was accidental. Justice U.C. Banerjee Committee, appointed by Railway Ministry also had reported that there was no conspiracy and the fire was purely accidental. The investigative documentary maker, Shubradeep Chakravorty had visited Godhra 11 times. He had taken the help of Mr. Sehgal, former Director of National Forensic Laboratory and a renowned investigator of Interpol. He also had proved that the fire was accidental.
It is unfortunate that Justice Nanavati has not taken into account the facts and supported the Modi theory of action and reaction. In the present atmosphere of suspicion and hatred this report will further spoil the communal atmosphere. Mr. Nanavati has just released the first part of the report. Perhaps the second part would be released before the general elections. It is natural that BJP will use these reports to further its electoral prospects. The net sufferer would be national unity and communal amity. In the time of ugly politics who cares for these national assets.