'Inflammable material was poured from inside the compartment'

AHMEDABAD JULY 3. A report by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) on the probabilities of the February 27 Godhra train carnage has opened a Pandora's box with many people questioning the Gujarat Government's theory of "conspiracy'' by the minorities.

In a sensational statement, the Gujarat Pradesh Congress president, Amarsinh Chaudhary, today pointed an accusing finger at the Sangh Parivar of having stage-managed the Godhra train carnage to instigate communal violence in the State.

Basing his statement on the FSL report that the inflammable material must have been poured from inside the burnt S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express, Mr. Chaudhary claimed that the report had negated the Modi Government's stand that local Muslims had set fire to the train from outside.

Mr. Chaudhary claimed that the kind of inflammable material used to burn the train was the same as the one used in burning the Muslim properties in the post-Godhra carnage, and that the "same elements who indulged in communal carnage were also involved in setting fire to the train.'' He demanded a thorough inquiry to trace the "elements'' in the coach and determine who could have set it afire.

The three-page FSL report in the Gujarati language formed part of the chargesheet filed in the railway court at Godhra against 62 accused, all Muslims and mostly residents of the Signal Falia locality on the outskirts of the Godhra station where the train was burnt, killing 58 persons.

While the FSL authorities refused to comment on the report saying that it was a court matter, the State Agriculture Minister, Purshottam Rupala, did not see any change in the situation in the wake of the report. Whether the inflammable material was thrown in the coach from the outside or some people had climbed up the coach and poured the material before setting it afire, it still established the theory of a "widespread conspiracy" to burn the coach carrying a large number of "kar sevaks.''

A Vishwa Hindu Parishad spokesman, however, differed with Mr. Rupala on the ground that the VHP had all along maintained that the inflammable material was thrown into the coach "from inside'' by local Muslims.

He claimed that the doors and windows of the coach were locked from inside because of the heavy stone-throwing from outside the coach and that some people had poured the inflammable liquid through the hose pipe and set the coach afire. Refusing to agree that the FSL report had thrown "any new light" on the perpetrators of the carnage, he said some 300 affidavits filed by "eye-witnesses'' before the K. G. Shah judicial inquiry commission probing the Godhra and the post-Godhra carnage had been on the same lines — that the material had been poured from inside.

"Can it ever be possible that the passengers will pour inflammable material and burn themselves,'' he asked.

``It is possible,'' said some senior retired police officials. It might not have been the innocent passengers but some conspirators travelling in the train, carrying inflammable material, could have found the communally-sensitive Godhra the most suitable location to start the fire.

They might have bolted the doors and windows from inside and doused it with the inflammable material and escaped through an open door before setting it afire, they surmised.

Stating that the FSL report could not be discounted so lightly, the officials disagreed that any Muslim from Godhra would dare to climb up a coach in which some 100 Hindu passengers, including "kar sevaks,'' were travelling. Complimenting the FSL for "bringing out the truth,'' they said right from the beginning it looked doubtful if the Godhra carnage could have been the handiwork of local Muslims. "It could be a conspiracy of the Hindu elements to set the stage for communal riots to take political advantage.''

``The bubble has been burst and the police chargesheet of conspiracy theory against the 62 accused will not stand in the court of law following the FSL report. They may at the most be charged with rioting and other minor offences but not murder,'' they said.

The FSL report, prepared by its Assistant Director, M. S. Dahiya, which was finalised after re-enacting the burning drama at the same spot, has come to the conclusion that about 60 litres of inflammable material were used for burning the coach but it could not have been poured from the outside as widely believed. If the material had been thrown in through the windows, 7 ft high from the ground, much of it would have fallen on the track but there was no such evidence. There also was no effect of the fire below the windows and the damage was severe inside the compartment and none outside.

After carrying out repeated experiments from all angles, the FSL came to the conclusion that "standing in the aisle of the coach near seat number 72 and using a container with wide mouth, about 60 litres of inflammable liquid has been poured and then immediately a fire has been started in the bogies.''

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