Rafiq Hussain Bhatuk, who is the prime accused in the Sabarmati Express burning case, has finally been arrested after almost 19 years of the ghastly incident in which 59 karsevaks were charred to death. Rafiq was arrested from Godhra town as informed by police on Monday.
Bhatuk was part of the core group of the accused who hatched the conspiracy
According to Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Leena Patil, 51-year old Bhatuk, who used to work as a labourer at Godhra railway station, was part of the ‘core group’ of the culprits who were involved in the entire conspiracy. He was absconding for 19 years. He was reportedly arrested after a team of Godhra police raided a house in Signal Falia area located near the railway station on Sunday after receiving insider information. “Bhatuk was part of the core group of the accused who had hatched the entire conspiracy, incited the mob and even arranged petrol to torch the train compartment. He fled to Delhi immediately after his name cropped up during the investigation. He was facing murder and rioting charges among others”, SP Patil said was quoted as saying.
He fled to Delhi after the incident and worked there as a labourer
59 karsevaks, including women and children, were burnt alive in the horrifying incident that happened on February 27 in 2002. The incident had triggered communal riots in Gujarat. SP Patil said that Bhatuk was involved in pelting stones on the compartment and pouring petrol inside it before setting it ablaze. “After fleeing Godhra following the incident, Bhatuk spent most of his time in Delhi where he worked on railway stations and also at construction sites as a labourer. He also sold household items on a handcart”, the SP said. He had recently shifted his family from Sulta Falia where he used to live earlier to Signal Falia to evade arrest.
He shifted his family to a new location to evade arrest
The police had received information that Bhatuk has changed his house and that he visited his family in the past but he could not be caught as he did not stay at his home for long. “We recently learnt that he had changed his house and visited his family in the past too. However, we couldn’t catch him as he used to leave after a day or two. This time, our teams managed to catch him. We will hand him over to Godhra railway station police for further investigation”, the SP added. Three other accused named Salim Ibrahim Badam aka Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdulmajid Yousuf Mitha are still absconding. It is believed that they fled to Pakistan.