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Other States - Gujarat

Chargesheets filed in Godhra train carnage case

By Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD May 23. The CID (Crime) police, investigating the Godhra train carnage of February 27, in which 58 ``Ram sevaks'' were killed when the Sabarmati Express was set afire outside the Godhra railway station, have filed chargesheets against the accused five days ahead of the 90-day deadline.

The filing of the chargesheets at the railway court in Godhra on Wednesday eliminates the possibility of the court suo motu releasing the accused on bail and removed misgivings that the Gujarat Police had failed to gather enough evidence against those arrested to file the chargesheets. Though the investigation is incomplete, the police have not been able to find any evidence of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) or the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) having played a role in the incident, despite the BJP's claims to that effect.

Police sources said 68 accused figure in the chargesheets, including 57 in the ``first case'' of stoning and torching the train and 11 in the ``second case'' when the mob attacked the police, prevented the fire brigade from approaching the burning train and stormed the train for a second time. All the 68 have been arrested but the police are on the lookout for another about 50 accused believed to be involved in the carnage. Among the absconders are some prime accused, including Razzak Kurkur believed to be one of the masterminds in the ``conspiracy'' case.

The investigation is still continuing and the police are likely to file supplementary chargesheets after the arrests of the absconders and with fresh evidence unearthed.

The investigation has been clouded by transfers of several officers and the creation of multiple authority by the Government to inquire into the incident. Many people had strongly objected to leaving virtually unattended the burnt-out S-6 coach of the train in which the 58 victims were trapped. The coach is still lying at Signal Falia, the scene of the crime about a kilometre away from the Godhra railway station, causing apprehensions that important evidences could be tampered with.

The chargesheet was filed by the CID (crime) team now led by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Rakesh Asthana, who took charge after the transfer of P.P. Aagja.

The police are reported to have re-enacted the burning of the train twice during the last one month to unearth the ``conspiracy'' theory and believed to have come to the conclusion that about 100 litres of petrol was used.

They are not confident whether there was any ``chain pulling'' because in the case of a chain-pulling immediately after the train left the platform, it should have halted within 500 metres from the platform and not after one kilometre at the Signal Falia crossing.

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