GUJARATH RIOTS : A Plot For A Pogrom : TEHELKA part 1

With a new probe ordered by the Supreme Court into 14 Gujarat riots cases, Tehelka puts forward evidence uncovered by a six-month-long sting operation last year that nailed the Gujarat Police’s lies. In the first part of a series, we point out the holes in the Gujarat government’s claim that a Muslim mob wilfully burnt the Sabarmati Express coach at Godhra

THE GODHRA train was indeed attacked by Muslims. I was the witness, I told the police what I saw. I stick to it. Not just the Special Investigation Team, even if the President of India comes to inquire, I will say what happened on the Sabarmati Express,” declares Kakul Pathak, a local BJP worker in Godhra, speaking to TEHELKA this week. This is the same Pathak who, in a TEHELKA sting operation published in November last year, had admitted that he never went to the Godhra railway station on the day the incident occurred. He confided that the police listed him as a witness without his knowledge, but he played along for Hindutva’s sake.
Kakul is not the only one, the sting has “witnesses” of the train fire on tapes and spycams saying how they were bribed and forced to parrot what the police told them to. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court to re-investigate the Godhra incident and other high-profile cases of the ensuing anti-Muslim violence need not look far to find clues on where to start: http://www.tehelka.com has the culprits admitting to their crimes on camera. TEHELKA’s investigation has demolished every police theory by taping the truth behind the lies being thrown around and by exposing the glaring contradictions in the police claims on
the Godhra case. The tapes are in the public domain, so will the SIT look at them? Here are instances of what TEHELKA recorded and what the police claim as their


Police version: The case rests chiefly on statements by nine BJP members, who claim to be eyewitnesses. Between them they have identified and accused 41 Godhra-based Muslims. Dileep Dasadiya, one of the nine BJP men, has since completely retracted his statement.

The truth : The nine BJP members, who the police claimed have identified 41 Muslims, were not even present at the station on the day. The TEHELKA undercover reporter caught two of them — Kakul Pathak and Murli Mulchandani — on camera, categorically admitting that they were not there that day, that the police had filed statements in their name without their knowledge, and that they had colluded to serve the cause of Hindutva.


Police version: A year after the incident, the police produced two men — Ranjitsingh Patel and Prabhatsingh Patel — and said they had sold 140 litres of petrol to the accused on the eve of February 27, 2002, the date of the Godhra fire. Significantly, the two had initially said they had not sold any loose petrol to anybody on that day or the evening before. They now have 24-hour police protection.

The truth : The two men who are said to have sold the petrol used to burn the train coach were actually bribed by the chief investigating officer, Noel Parmar, to make this statement and falsely identify people. TEHELKA caught Ranjitsingh on camera admitting to this. The amount paid to each was Rs 50,000.


Police version: Two weeks after arresting Illias Hussain and Anwar Kalandar, the police produced them in court to say the two were the men who had got on the train and brought it to a halt at Godhra station’s Cabin A area. (Both have since retracted their statements through affidavits in the Supreme Court.)

The truth: Hussain and Kalandar were tortured in police custody by Noel Parmar and his team into making their statements. Illias told the TEHELKA reporter that while they were in custody, Parmar’s men would put a log on his leg and walk on it. Kalandar said the police put electric shocks on his genitals. A year after their statements to the police, the two returned from an enforced exile and retracted their statements through an affidavit in court.


Police version: Ajay Baria, a Hindu vendor, was produced in court a month and a half after the first chargesheet in the case, and he claimed that nine Muslim hawkers forcibly took him to Godhra station to haul petrol and set coach S- 6 of the Sabarmati Express on fire. Baria soon became the cornerstone of the police case.

The truth: Baria, whose statement stitched the police’s theory neatly into place, is no longer allowed to live in Godhra. He is shadowed by two policemen round the clock. When TEHELKA contacted his mother, as the reporter could not speak to Baria directly, she said that Baria had become a police witness out of fear.


Police version: Jabir Binyamin Bahera, one of the accused, confessed he was part of the group of hawkers that poured the petrol along the floor of the S-6 coach. He also said two Muslim corporators — Bilal Haji and Farooq Bhana — had told him that coach S-6 was to be burnt because Maulvi Umarji had ordered so. The police also used confessions from six other Muslim hawkers who admitted to being part of the burning at the behest of Maulvi Umarji and the Muslim corporators.

The truth: Bahera and all the six Muslim hawkers have retracted their statements through affidavits in the court. Maulvi Umarji, whose alleged role in the conspiracy is crucial to uphold the police’s theory, was not present at the site during the incident. The allegations against him rest on two statements, one by Jabir Bin Bahera and the other by Sikandar Siddiq. Siddiq has already proved himself unreliable. He had named Maulvi Yakub Punjabi along with Umarji, and it turned out that Punjabi wasn’t even in India on the day of the incident.

BESIDES THE falsehoods that TEHELKA exposed, the SIT would want to look at how the police version of the incident changed with the facts contained in the reports of the Gujarat government’s own Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). The reports have put a huge question mark on the police claim of how the fire broke out in the train to kill 59 people. The forensic report has effectively demolished the police contention on the cause of the fire. The police had claimed the mob on the platform was throwing petrol, kerosene, acid and petrol bulbs, and burning torches into the coach through broken windows and sprinkling inflammable liquid on the coach’s floor. The FSL report ruled this out completely.

In its next report, the FSL said that some 60 litres of inflammable material might have been poured onto the coach from inside. The police version, again, changed conveniently to suit the FSL’s new findings. The Gujarat Police began to claim that several people climbed on the coach, cut the rubber vestibule, poured 60 litres of petrol and set it on fire. In another significant finding, Additional Director of the FSL, DB Talati, in his report dated April 26, 2002, stated that he could not say whether the petrol traces in the 25 samples matched the petrol sample from Kalabhai’s petrol pump (from where the conspirators allegedly bought their petrol). Further, a huge sample —370 kg — taken from S-6 on May 1, 2002, yielded no trace of petrol. If the SIT can unravel the exact cause of the fire, it will be able to reveal whether the torching of the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was a terrorist conspiracy or an accident. Meanwhile, TEHELKA has the answers.

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