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The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald
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February 13, 2009

Godhra train burning was not terrorist act: High Court

The 79 persons who were accused of setting afire the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra that had led to backlash against Muslims, will not be tried under the stringent POTA.

The Gujarat High Court has held that it was not an act of terrorism. The burning of train was an accident. The state government had held that train carrying 'kar sewaks' back from Ayodhya was set ablaze by local Muslims at Godhra.

Rejecting this assertion, the court said that the accused would not be tried under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Now the accused persons will be able to get bail after years of confinement.

The BJP-ruled Gujarat government's role in the carnage has come under scanner. Though the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya was demolished by militant Hindus in 1992, the 'kar sewaks' were still sent to the site of disputed mosque just around the elections.

After the Godhra incident, the communal riots had engulfed the entire state. Gujarat was termed as a hate-lab of Hindutva as nearly 2,500 persons, mostly Muslims, were killed and burnt to death in the ugliest pogrom.

The train was burnt on February 27, 2002. Despite the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's plea to the Gujarat chief minister to act and perform his 'raj dharma', the riots had continued for weeks.

Due to one of the bloodiest post-partition riots, Gujarat also suffered a setback to its image and the secular ethos for which it was known. Under BJP, it has become the most polarised states lately.

Several organisations claim that the riots were engineered and the genocide was state-sponsored. Successive court rulings have come as a setback to Gujarat government and Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister.

Leaders of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and Bajrang Dal were allegedly involved in leading mobs across the state. Recently Maya Kodnani, a minister in the Gujarat government, was termed an absconder in the case of murdering three dozen persons at Gulbarg society.

The court ruling comes as another blow to Narendra Modi's government. As POTA is no longer applicable, the accused would be tried under the sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

TIH Bureau


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