Judicial snub to crypto Islamists
by Rohit Srivastava on 24 Feb 2011 13 Comments

Truth has its own way of dislodging lies. Indian public life is full of blatant lies told to the common man in name of socialism, secularism, communalism and numerous other isms which are little more than jargon, intended only to confuse the masses. Obvious facts are distorted for political motives and all distortions done with the help of unscrupulous intellectuals.


Yet on 22 Feb. 2011, as a Gujarat court pronounced verdict in the Godhra train massacre, a vicious calumny against the 59 victims of the carnage in particular, and the Hindu community at large, came gloriously unstuck. It was reminiscent of the Supreme Court upholding life sentence for Dara Singh on account of the profound distress and provocation caused by evangelical activities among vulnerable groups, the joy of which could not be undone by the rapid backtracking by judicial cold feet.  


The burning of the Sabarmati Express S-6 coach on 27 Feb. 2002, the Godhra sessions court held, was an act of conspiracy, and no accident.


Certainly it was not – as the Justice U.C. Banerjee Committee disgracefully suggested in both his interim and final report of March 2006 – an accident. The retired Supreme Court judge, appointed by the then Railways Minister Lalu Yadav, had categorically asserted that the fire was no act of terror, and dismissed the NDA’s claim that there was a conspiracy behind the carnage.


Justice Banerjee insisted that the fire was accidental; no outsiders were involved; the deaths were caused by toxicity and suffocation; that there was no crowd and just onlookers at the impugned railway station; and that the coaches were not locked. He completely ruled out the possibility of an inflammable liquid being used to start the fire, saying that there was first a smell of burning, followed by dense smoke and flames, a sequence of events that is not possible in case the fire is caused by an inflammable liquid thrown on the floor of the coach, or an inflammable object thrown from outside the coach. When irate survivors of the carnage filed a case against the Banerjee Committee, the Gujarat High Court declared it “unconstitutional, illegal and void”.


In contrast to the command performance desired by Lalu Yadav, the Justice Nanavati-Justice Shah Commission appointed by the state government found that the fire was started deliberately by outsiders who entered the train and burnt the victims to death. Justice Nanavati also found that there was a mob at the railway station – vindicated by the sessions court verdict – and the coaches were locked from outside – a key factor in establishing the veracity of the conspiracy theory. The Nanavati Commission, which submitted its first report on 18 Sept. 2008, interrogated hundreds of persons, including victims and eye-witnesses, and concluded that there was no accident and that the coach was set on fire by a mob, allegedly belonging to a minority group.


This unpalatable truth has now come home to our duplicitous Hindu-baiting liberal media, politicians, and activists of all hues, with the sessions court declaring that the Godhra carnage was an act of conspiracy, pronouncing 31 accused as guilty, and acquitting 63 accused for lack of credible evidence.


As an aside, it is worth mentioning that the acquittal of the alleged key conspirator, like the recent acquittal of two alleged key local accomplices in the Mumbai 2008 carnage, reflects poorly on the quality of police work in this country, and calls for an urgent redressal.


To return to Godhra, what happened on 27 Feb. 2002 was no small provocation. And it has taken the verdict of the sessions court to make the bleeding-heart liberals, leftists, human rights marketeers et al to realize that the burning alive of 59 innocent karsevaks returning from Magh Purnima prayers at Ayodhya cannot be purged from the nation’s history, even as they earn their name and fame (and god knows what else) by solitary focus on the communal riots that followed this outrage. The bottom line is – you cannot speak of effect without first acknowledging the cause (and there is no need to invoke the bogus laws of a proven-to-be-wrong scientist like Issac Newton).


India’s Anti-Hindu Legionnaires have to face the fact that a violent mob gathered at Godhra station at the very same time that the coach caught fire a short distance from railway junction. They have to explain why all fellow passengers of the ill-fated train spontaneously asserted that a Muslim mob had burnt down the train. Did they really think that forensic evidence would support the specious claim that the train caught fire from within, whether by accident or design? Above all, they will have to tell the Indian public why they took the stand that the version of victims and witnesses was no consequence (in their eyes) and the alleged accused were innocent.


To their credit, most politicians retreated in silence once the verdict was out – discretion is the better part of valour.


The media however, particularly the 24 x 7 news channels that most politicized the Gujarat riots and defamed the nation internationally, was compelled to show its face, and showed that introspection was not in its DNA. One anchor, after announcing the court verdict, pontificated that the government of Gujarat should answer why the 63 acquitted persons were kept in jail for nine years! The same channel has never bothered about thousands of undertrials languishing in jail without trial far beyond the period of maximum punishment if found guilty of their alleged crimes. Another channel declaimed that the interpretation of the judgment should not be politicized. The same channel never bothered to depoliticize the Gujarat riots.


Nevertheless, these Crypto-Islamists in the media, who share the views of every Islamist from the Hurriyat to the Pakistani regime, have got a loud slap with the Godhra verdict.


The very fact that 31 persons were held guilty for the “pre-planned conspiracy” at Godhra is a scathing indictment of all those who had callously treated the victims of Godhra and their families as undeserving of sympathy or respect. All these 31 were held guilty on two major counts, Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) and Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.


Yet it is unfortunate that the sessions court acquitted Maulana Umarji who allegedly used the public address system of a nearby mosque to urge the people to rush to the railway station and “kill” kar sevaks aboard the Sabarmati Express.


Even more unfortunate is the Christian evangelical hatred that has spewed out following the verdict when there was simply no need for this tragedy to be converted into an issue of the Sisterhood of the Abrahamic Fraternity. Jesuit activist Father Cedric Prakash asserted that after finding the main accused innocent, “yet the court held the incident as a conspiracy is really ridiculous”. Bishop Rosario Godfrey de Souza of Baroda, whose diocese covers Godhra, called the verdict “a total disaster”, adding that “the judiciary seems to have lost its backbone and is only catering to the needs of the government, overlooking justice”. Jesuit activist Father Stanny Jabamalai demanded that the government compensate the acquitted.


Unless this is made standard procedure in all criminal cases, there is no warrant for such differential treatment for minority accused of one of the worst crimes in modern India.


The writer is a freelance journalist

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