Unfolding the Godhra Riots: shock, awe, horror!

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Godhra tragedy
Allahabad, Mar 6: It was brutal, pre-planned and above all cold-blooded. The Godhra train burning incident shocked the Indian psyche and led to one of the worst communal riots India has seen unfold in Gujarat. After the accused were convicted by a special court, 11 out of the 31 people were awarded a death sentence and 69 others acquitted. But its the thought process of the demented minds that intrigues the average Indian and the extreme hostility certain communities harbour against each other.

The burning of the coach that led to the death of 59 people, mostly Kar Sevaks from the Vishwa Hindu Parishath was “pre-planned" according to the judgment passed by the court. The Additional sessions judge P.R. Patel who pronounced the landmark judgment said, “it would not have been possible to gather Muslim persons with deadly weapons within five to six minutes and reach near “A" cabin on the railway track" after the train pulled to a stop after the chain was pulled two times.

The judge was in agreement with the prosecutions argument that petrol was acquired in carboys the previous night following a meeting at the Aman Guest House. The judge noted the point and added, “it would not have been possible to reach with carboys containing petrol in a huge quantity immediately, that is within 5 to 10 minutes, near coach S-6."

The judge also ruled that it was not a random attack but was one that specifically aimed the kar sevaks which is evident in the fact that the perpetrators targeted the S-6 coach and not any other. The announcement from the nearby Ali Masjid mosque also acted as a war cry for the already charged-up Muslims.

The defence lawyers had argued that the incident was a reactive behaviour of the mob that gathered near the Sabarmati Express. “That the quarrel took place on the platform or misbehaviour with Muslim girls by kar sevaks was the only the cause for spontaneous reactions can never be accepted because as per the evidence on record, such quarrel had also taken place earlier at the Rudroli station in Uttar Pradesh, and at the Dahod station in Gujarat. However, it did not result in such serious reactions," the court observed.

The judge also observed that Godhra had a dark past of many such communal riots that endangered the moral fabric of Gujarat. He also added that there were around 10 other incidents of communal clashed from 1965 to 1992 that saw many innocents being burnt alive.

The court also explained the term 'criminal conspiracy' and said, “criminal conspiracy is complete as soon as two or more persons agree to do or cause to be done an illegal act. It is immaterial whether the illegal act was the ultimate object of such an agreement or was merely incidental to that object. The agreement in itself is enough to constitute the offence."

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