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Godhra and the tale of two reports

  • Dailybhaskar.in
  • Feb 22, 2011, 11:17 AM IST

New Delhi: The reports of the two commissions – Nanavati Commission and Banerjee Committee – are completely contradictory and have represented two polarised views in their findings of the reason behind the Godhra train burning.

While Justice Banerjee ruled out the involvement of outsiders and said that death was mostly due to suffocation, Justice Nanavati said that the fire was started deliberately by outsiders who had entered the train and the victims burned to death.

Below are some contradictory points mentioned in the two reports-

Nanavati Commission report

# Fire deliberately set

# Outsiders ignited fire

# Death due to burning

# Mob at railway station

# Coaches locked from outside

The Gujarat Government, in consultation with Central Government appointed Justice Nanavati and Shah to investigate Godhra and post-Godhra incidents. Nanavati Commission took a lot of time in talking to thousands of people including victims and eye-witnesses, interviewed thousands in an independent manner, finally concluded that Godhra carnage was not an accident but the coach was set on fire by a mob, allegedly by the members of a minority group.

They also gave a clean chit to Narendra Modi and noted that the efforts done by Government to take control of the situation were appreciable.

The Nanavati Commission, probing the Godhra train carnage and subsequent riots in Gujarat, submitted the first part of its report to Chief Minister Narendra Modi on 18 September 2008.

UC Banerjee Commission report

# Fire accidental

# No outsiders involved

# Death due to toxicity & suffocation

# No crowd, just onlookers at railway station

# Coaches were not locked

Two years after the incident Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav appointed Justice U C Banerjee to investigate Godhra incident. On the eve of election in Railway Minister's home state Bihar, Justice U C Banerjee released a report suggesting fire being an accident which resulted out of cooking being carried within the carriage, and ruled out the possibility of fire having resulted out of any external attack. The possibility of an inflammable liquid having been used is completely ruled out as there was first a smell of burning, followed by dense smoke and flames thereafter.

This sequence is not possible in case the fire is caused by an inflammable liquid thrown on the floor of the coach or an inflammable object thrown from outside the coach. The "inflammable liquid theory" also gets negated by the statement of some of the passengers who suffered injuries on the upper portion of the body and not the lower body and who crawled towards the door on elbows and could get out without much injury.

The Gujarat High Court ruling declared Justice UC Banerjee Committee as "unconstitutional, illegal and void".

A court case was filed by survivors of the carnage against the committee.

(With inputs from web, agencies)

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