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Godhra Carnage: When Islamist mob returned to kill more Hindus three hours after burning alive 59 passengers on 27 February 2002

20 years since Godhra carnage, lest we forget

27 February 2002: Remember the date. It was the day 59 Hindus returning from Ayodhya after performing karseva (voluntary labour) for the bhavya Ram Mandir.

A disputed structure often referred to as ‘Babri Masjid’ stood on the land where once a temple dedicated to Shri Ram was there. Shri Ram was born in Ayodhya and that was his janmabhoomi (birthplace). On 6 December 1992, the structure was demolished by Hindus. That led to largescale communal violence. As revenge, on 12 March 1993, serial bomb blasts took place in Mumbai. The Babri demolition has been a bone of contention and cause of communal discord for decades now.

It is a no brainer, hence that when 59 people, including women and children were burnt live on 27 February 2002 inside a train by a riotous Muslim mob, it was because they were returning from Ayodhya. A place where they wanted to build Ram Mandir. A place where ‘Babri Masjid’ stood. Those burnt alive were all Hindus.

Justice Nanavati Committee report [pdf] talks about how the Godhra carnage took place. Right after the Godhra platform and boundary, there is a road and a locality named ‘Signal Falia’. “It extends upto the culvert and goes further towards A cabin. It is a locality mainly inhabited by Ghanchi Muslims,” the report mentions. When the train had arrived, a lot of unauthorised vendors, mainly Ghanchi Muslims, would come on platform and sell snacks, cold drinks, bidis, etc.

The report further states that the train arrived at the platform at 7:43 AM as it was running about 5 hours late and there was a halt of about 5 minutes. In its evidence portion, the report cites media reports from 28th February 2002, the day after carnage, where leading mainstream media had reported that a mob has set Hindus on fire. They mentioned how Hindus were returning from karseva and how the mob set the train coaches on fire with petrol.

While the attack by the Muslim mob where 59 Hindus were burnt alive became the subject of several conspiracy theories peddled by the likes of Mukul Sinha, simply to save the riotous mob, even 20 years on, there are details of the carnage that are less spoken about. For example, while activists, NGOs and “secular” politicians tried to whitewash the burning alive of 59 Hindus, the less talked about aspect of what happened in 2002 is the fact that there was a second attack on Sabarmati Express only a few hours after the Hindus were burnt alive – the Muslim mob had come back to inflict more damage than they already had.

The second attack on Sabarmati Express no one talks about

After the first attack on the train that took place at 7:43 AM, administration got into action to make sure law and order and peace is maintained. 

The Nanavati-Mehta Commission then talks about the second attack that took place on the Hindus in the train by a 2,000-2,500 strong Muslim mob. 

RPF Commandant Pandey had rushed to Godhra and he said that when he reached near the train he had heard announcements made from the nearby mosque through a loud speaker. They were: “Kafiro ko mar dalo, Islam Khatre me Hai.” Soon, a mob of 1,000 people armed with swords and sticks arrived from Signal Falia side. He asked the mob to back off, but when they didn’t relent, he ordered his RPF men to open fire. Vikramsinh had fired 16 rounds from his carbine. H.C. Jhala had fired two rounds. Sub-Inspector Mr. Varma had fired 1 round from his pistol. Some rounds were fired by other policemen too. 

DY SP Simpi too had seen the mob of 2,000-2,500 people ready to attack the train again near the Ali Masjid. “At that time he had also heard announcements like “Islam Khatreme Hai, Maro, Kapo” coming from loud speakers of the Ali Masjid. He has stated that he can give the names of the injured policemen after seeing the record,” the committee report says.

PI Mehbubbeg Mirza, then a PI at CID, Vadodara, left for Godhra at 9:30 AM. He reported to Dy S.P. Simpi at about 11:20 and he asked to make the passengers sit in the train. While he was doing so, a mob of about 2500 to 3000 persons had come from the Signal Falia side. Persons therein were shouting ‘Chhod Do, Mar Dalo, Kat Dalo”. 

They were also throwing stones, he said. “He has stated that the mob which was seen coming from the Signal Falia side was trying to come near the train. When it was warned it was about 50 to 100 feet away from the train,” he had said. While PI Mirza had not heard the announcement from the mosque, he heard the people in the mob chanting similar slogans. 

Nanavati-Mehta Commission report thus states, “The Commission does not find any good reason for rejecting their evidence. It is of the view that the evidence given by these witnesses is quite reliable and deserves to be accepted. It clearly establishes that the attack by the mobs on the train between 11.00 a.m. and 11.45 a.m. did take place as stated by the witnesses. This incident though it had happened after burning of coach S/6 is relevant as it is connected with what happened earlier between 8.00 a.m. and 8.30 a.m.”

History forgotten will be repeated

When people speak about this, it is almost always about the ‘riots’. No one mentions the burning alive of 59 karsevaks. No one talks about how an Islamist mob got so violent that announcements were made from a masjid to kill the Hindus, the ones returning from Ayodhya. And when the carnage sometimes is still being talked about, very few are aware about the second attack that almost happened before the train with the karsevaks that managed to save themselves left the station.

That it was found by the Nanavati-Shah Commission, too, never made it to mainstream narrative.

Hindu lives, it seems, have always been expendable.

Here is a partial list of those Hindus who were burnt alive in the carnage. We are still trying to find the full list of the ones who perished that day, but let us not forget them.

1.  Nilimaben Prakashbhai Chaudagar, Ramol, Amdavad

2.  Jyotiben Bharatbhai Panchal, Maninagar, Amdavad

3.  Premaben Naranbhai Dabhi,Gita Mandir, Amdavad

4.  Jiviben Parambhai Dabhi,Gita Mandir, Amdavad

5.  Devkalaben Hariprasad Joshi,Chandlodiya, Amdavad

6.  Zaverbhai Jadavbhai Prajapati,Vastral Amdavad

7.  Mittalben Bharatbhai Prajapati, Maninagar, Amdavad

8.  Nitaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad

9.  Harshadbhai Hargovindbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad

10. Pratikshaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad

11. Niruben Navinchandra Brahmbhatt, Sanket society, Vadnagar

12. Chayaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad

13. Chiragbhai Ishwarbhai Patel, Vaghodiya, Vadodara

14. Sudhaben Girishchandra Rawal, Chandlodiya, Amdavad

15. Malaben Sharadbhai Mhatre, Ambavadi, Amdavad

16. Arvindaben Kantilal Shukla, Ramol, Amdavad

17. Umakant Govindbhai Makwana, Nava Naroda, Amdavad

18. Sadashiv Vithalbhai Jadhav, Sureliya Estate road, Amdavad

19. Maniben Dahyabhai Dave, Nava Naroda, Amdavad

20. Jesalkumar Manshukhbhai Soni, Vastral, Amdavad

21. Manshukhbhai Kanjibhai Soni, Vastral, Amdavad

22. Ratiben Shivpati Prasad, Municipal quarters, Vijay mills, Naroda, Amdavad

23. Jamnaprashad Ramashray Tiwari, Municipal quarters, Vijay mills, Naroda, Amdavad

24.Satish Ramanlal Vyas, Odhav, Amdavad

25. Shantaben Jashbhai Patel, Roon, Anand

26. Indiraben Banshibhai Patel, Roon, Anand

27. Rajeshbhai Sardarji Vaghela, Khokhra, Ahdavad

28. Shilaben Mafatbhai Patel, Roon, Anand

29. Manjulaben Kirtibhai Patel, Roon, Anand

30. Champaben Manubhai Patel, Roon, Anand

31. Diwaliben Raojibhai Patel, Matar, KHeda

32.Lalitaben Karansibhai Patel, Kadi, Mehsana

33. Manguben Hirjibhai Patel, Kadi, Mehsana

34. Prahladbhai Jayantbhai Patel, Ambika township, Patan

35. Bhimjibhai Karsanbhai Patel, Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha

36. Lakhubhai Hirajibhai Patel, Kubhadharol Kampa, Vadali, Sabarkantha

37. Vithalbhai Parshottambhai Patel, Dungerji ni Chali, Khokhra, Amdavad

38. Shailesh Ranchodbhai Panchal, Sankalp Park Society, Surendranagar

39. Amrutbhai Joitaram Patel, Gamanpura, Mehsana

40. Narendra Narayanbhai Patel, Vanpardi, Mandal, Amdavad

41. Ramanbhai Gangarambhai Patel, Nugar, Mehsana

The burnt coaches, S6 and S7 were separated by 11:30 AM and the train was reassembled. The train, with the passengers who were alive, left Godhra finally at 12:40 PM.

Remember these names so that the history is not repeated.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Nirwa Mehta
Nirwa Mehta
Politically incorrect. Author, Flawed But Fabulous.

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