Godhra Kaand 2002, Gujarat

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  • Topic: 2002 Gujarat violence, Narendra Modi, Gujarat
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  • Published : February 20, 2013
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CULTURAL STUDY ON 2002 Gujarat violence

The 2002 Gujarat violence was a series of incidents including the Godhra train burning and Naroda Patiya massacre and the subsequent communal violence between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat. On 27 February 2002, the Sabarmati Express train was attacked at Godhra by a Muslim mob as per a preplanned conspiracy. 58 Hindu pilgrims, including 25 women and 15 children, returning from Ayodhya, were killed in the attack. This in turn prompted retaliatory attacks against Muslims and general communal riots on a large scale across the state, in which 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were ultimately killed and 223 more people were reported missing. 523 places of worship were damaged: 298 dargahs, 205 mosques, 17 temples, and 3 churches. Muslim-owned businesses suffered the bulk of the damage. 61,000 Muslims and 10,000 Hindus fled their homes. Preventive arrests of 17,947 Hindus and 3,616 Muslims were made. In total 27,901 Hindus and 7,651 Muslims were arrested.

The nature of these events remains politically controversial in India. Some commentators have characterized the deaths of Muslims as a genocide in which the state was complicit; while others have countered that the hundreds of Muslim and Hindu dead were all victims of riots or "violent disturbances".

Godhra train burning, investigations and judgments

On 27 February 2002, 58 Hindus including 25 women and 15 children, Hindu pilgrims (Kar Sevaks) returning by the Sabarmathi express train from Ayodhya, were burnt alive in a railway coach by a large Muslim mob. in a conspiracy. The conspiracy to massacre the Hindus was fueled by false rumors of the abduction of a Muslim girl, which were spread throughout the Muslim majority locality.

Initial media reports blamed the local Muslims for setting the coach on fire. The New Nanavati Report states that the Attack on the "Kar Sevaks" on the train from Ayodhya was pre-planned, and exonerates Chief Minister Narendra Modi. A previous report on the Godhra train burning, filed by Justice Banerjee, a more recent report filed by Justice Nanavati states that it was "pre-planned" by the mob. The Gujarat High Court ruling, as of 2006, has declared as illegal and unconstitutional, setting up of the Umesh Chandra Banerjee committee, which had concluded the fire started by accident. Gujarat High Court quashed the conclusions of the Banerjee Committee and declared its formation as a "colorful exercise," "illegal, unconstitutional, null and void," and its argument of accidental fire "opposed to the prima facie accepted facts on record.". Going further, the report claims that one Hassan Lalu had thrown burning objects into the train and 140litres of petrol had been used to set the train on fire, adding that stones were thrown at passengers to stop them from fleeing.

Nine years after the Godhra train went up in flames the court on 22 February 2011 pronounced its judgement. Additional Session Judge delivered the verdict and convicted 31 Muslims and acquitted 63.The bodies of those killed in the train were brought to Ahmedabad, where a procession was held,a move seen as a major provocation for the ensuing communal violence.The VHP issued a call for a state-wide strike on 28 February 2002, which was supported by the BJP.In February 2011, the findings of the Nanavati-Mehta commission were upheld in court, and the Godhra train burning was called a "pre-planned conspiracy". 31 people were convicted of setting fire to the train and "roasting alive 59 helpless kar sevaks." of which 11 were sentenced to death and 20 to life sentences.

Post Godhra violence

Tension gripped parts of Gujarat state while examinations all over the state were cancelled. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad had called for a statewide bandh to protest the Godhra train burning. Fearing communal clashes the administration imposed a curfew in...
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