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COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN INDIA IN THE

LIGHT OF GODHRA INCIDENT

ABSTRACT
The frequency with which communal violence have been taking place in India shows that
there is something fundamentally wrong with our political system as well as our secular
governance. The carnage in Gujarat did not occur suddenly and simply in reaction to
what happened in Godhra. The Sangh parivar politically thrived only through hate
politics, opposing everything that went in favour of minorities. Over the years it has
created a mindset among the Hindus, who question not only the loyalty of minorities
towards India but also consider them fundamentalist and fanatical, and the Hindus as
liberal and secular.
INTRODUCTION
Our State which is supposed to be wedded to secularism is in fact the largest propagator
and tolerator of communal feelings. In 1976, the word secularism was added to the
preamble of the Constitution. Since its inception, the Constitution gives equal status to all
religions. This is sufficient for many people to come to the conclusion that the state is in
fact secular. Our Secularism has provisions even for personal laws and customary laws
where marriage, sex relations, inheritance and other viral areas of the lives of citizens are
domain of religion.1
Indian society is pluralistic from religious point of view. Here, we have the followers of
all the great religious systems. Hindus constitute the bulk of the population and they
inhabit in all parts of the country. Muslims constitute the largest religious minority. But
the adjustment between the Hindus and Muslims has been a failure several times,
resulting in violent communal riots.
1 http://www.radicalsocialist.in/articles/national-situation/63-communalismits-causes-and-consequences

In the communal riots during the period of independence millions of people were
rendered homeless while millions of others lost their property. Communalism was
responsible for the division of the country into India and Pakistan. The partition was
expected to resolve the riddle, but it failed.2

COMMUNALISM
Communalism is a negative term, is generally seen in the context of acrimony and
conflict between the two communities harmful to the healthy growth of people and the
nation. It creates enmity, hatred, violence and revenge, which hamper the growth and
development. It develops at the cost of human values adversely affecting the property of
the community. It broke India into two parts leaving behind memories and incalculable
wounds and loss of property.
In India, communalism has implied discord, tension and conflict between its prominent
communities, i.e., Hindus, Muslims and Christians. It has resulted in violence, terror and
discrimination against minority communities. It is the vital cause of Hindu-Muslim
communal riots.3
Communalism is one of the most serious problems that India has to face after her
freedom from colonial rule in the mid of 20 th Century. This problem, which has existed
among the followers of two principal religious communities- Hindus and Muslims
many times raised a great challenge before the secular structure of India. In the name of
religion such acts have been committed that are no doubt shameful and a act of fleeing
from the message of Mahatma Gandhi who lead the country to the door steps of freedom
through non-violence, the sacred human value. Mahatma Gandhi devoted his entire life
2 http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/society/problems-of-communalism-inindia-essay/4091/
3
http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in:8080/jspui/bitstream/10603/40546/7/10_cha
pter1.pdf

for propounding communal harmony. But it is unfortunate that after independence there
have been many communal riots in India, and most of them occurred between Hindus and
Muslims.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE WITH RESPECT TO COMMUNAL VIOLENCE
IN INDIA
India is a country of diversities, a land of different religious communities and sects. India
has a history of communal riots. Towards the end of the 19 th century, Bal Gangadhar
Tilak, who was one of the great political leaders of India at that time, started Ganesh
Pooja and Shivaji Mahotsav in Southern India, especially in Maharashtra and its
nearby regions, with the aim of creating awakening among the masses. The programmes
related to Ganesh Pooja and Shivaji Mahotsav was not initiated to support the
interests of Hindus. However, both Ganesh and Shivaji were associated with the
emotions of a number of Hindus. A procession connected with the above programme was
passing through the streets of Mumbai in the year 1893. When it reached near a place of
prayer of another religious community, it was pelted with stones. The quarrel ensued
between those participating in the procession and attackers, and finally resulted in a
communal riot. Similarly, another incident occurred in the coming year, i.e. in 1894 at
Pune. Behind both these incidents was the support of colonial rulers to the narrowminded people involved in the acts. From here, started communalism, which was also
evident on some occasions in the Gandhian era of the national liberation movement of
India. According to his firm belief, Mahatma Gandhi entered in the Yajna of national
freedom along with others, whether they were Sikhs or Buddhists, Parasis or Jains,
Christians or Muslims, or his own co-religionists. But it was unfortunate that many
people could not become identical with the firm and true message of Mahatma Gandhi
pertaining to non-violence. Even then, he, time and again, repeated his message of
ahimsa till the last breath of his life; worked for communal harmony declaring it a value
supplementary to non-violence.4
When the British established their dominance in India via the East India Company, they
initially adopted the policy of patronizing Hindus, but after the First War of Independence
4 http://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/communalism.htm

in 1857 in which Hindus and Muslims fought shoulder to shoulder, the Britishers adopted
the policy of divide and rule which resulted in fostering communal clashes deliberately
for keeping intact their hegemony.
Thus, though antagonism between Hindus and Muslims is an old issue, Hindu-Muslim
communalism in India can be described a legacy of British rule during the freedom
struggle when the Congress leaders accepted the partition in 1946, it led in 1947 to the
displacement of millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs amid bloodshed and carnage.
About 2 lakh persons were estimated to have been killed in the 1947 partition riots and
about 6 million Muslims and four and a half million Hindus and Sikhs became refugees.
Even after the partition, the Congress failed to come to grips with communalism. It could,
therefore, be said that Hindu-Muslim communalism in India had politico-social origins,
and religion alone was not the cause of the conflict between Hindus and Muslims.
Economic interests and cultural and social mores (such as festivals, social practices and
lifestyles) were factors that further divided the two communities. 5 At the time of partition,
the communal feelings converted themselves into the worst communal riots in the history
of India. The main victims of these riots were in the States of Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, U.P.
Bengal and Kashmir.6
Almost forty years after Independence and the traumatizing events of Partition: Hindu
Muslim relations in India are fraught with many difficulties. The communal divide and
religious riots have become a distinctive feature of Indian social life.7

5 http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/essay/communalism/hindu-muslim-communalism-in-india2/43919/
6 http://www.radicalsocialist.in/articles/national-situation/63-communalism-its-causes-and-consequences
7 http://www.massviolence.org/hindu-muslim-communal-riots-in,738

COMMUNAL RIOTS: Communal riots are a dangerous and a frightful phenomena and
a curse for our society. Not only does a communal riot ends up in loss of lives and
property, it divides and polarizes the society and gives rise to vicious political debates.8
COMMUNAL VIOLENCE: Communal violence involves people belonging to two
different religious communities mobilised against each other and carrying the feelings of
hostility, emotional fury, exploitation, social discrimination and social neglect.
The targets of attack are the members of the enemy community. Generally, there is no
leadership in communal riots which could effectively control and contain the riot situation. It could thus be said that communal violence is based mainly on hatred, enmity and
revenge. Communal violence has increased quantitatively and qualitatively ever since
politics came to be communalized.9

THE TRUE STORY OF GODHRA INCIDENT


Godhra, a city of the Indian State of Gujarat, was the lead story in all Indian newspapers
on February 27th-28th, 2002. In the Gujarati town of Godhra, on 27 February 2002, a
Muslim mob set on fire a train wagon carrying passengers returning from Ayodhya to
Gujarat.10
On February 27, 2002, the Sabarmati Express, a train bound for Ahmedabad, was
carrying karsevaks (pilgrims, religious workers) from Ayodhya to Gujarat. The kar sevaks
traveled to aid in the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. In 1992, a mob of
8 http://creative.sulekha.com/communal-riots-and-its-cause_319027_blog
9http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/society/communal-violence-concept-features-incidence-andcauses/39237/
10 http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/articles/fascism/godhra.html

Hindu militants demolished the Babri Masjid (mosque) in Ayodhya, built in the 16th
century; instigating rioting that spread to other parts of the country, and resulted in the
death of more than 2,000 people, who were mostly Muslims. They declared that they
would build a temple to Ram at the site.11
The Hindu volunteers travelling in the Sabarmati Express train to Ayodhya or back to
Ahmedabad in Gujarat, had reportedly been misbehaving with Muslim passengers, both
men and women, for days without any police intervention.12
From the time when the activists boarded the train on February 25 in Ayodhya until they
reached Godhra on February 27, they unleashed a wave of mischief, terror and fear on
their passengers, some of whom were also Muslim. The militant activists exposed
themselves to other passengers, pulled headscarves of Muslim women on the train,
evicted a family of four in the middle of the night for refusing to join in chants glorifying
the Hindu God Ram and refused to pay for tea and snacks they consumed at each train
station. On stations they would chant anti-Muslim rhymes and slogans, insulting Muslim
Holy places. The things got out of hand when the daughter of an old Muslim man with a
small tea stall at the train station was kidnapped. 13 An old Ghanchi vendor was ordered to
shout pro-Rama slogans and his beard was reportedly pulled when he refused. This was
followed immediately by stone throwing and physical assaults. The Hindu militants

11 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/gujarat.htm
12 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/gujarat.htm
13 http://www.soundvision.com/article/what-happened-in-godhra-gujurat

argued with this old man, beat him up and pulled his beard. 14 The 16-year-old daughter
who was also present at the station came forward as her father was being beaten and tried
to save him from the Hindu militants. She kept pleading and begging to them to stop
beating her father and leave him alone. But instead of listening to her woes, the Hindu
militants lifted the young girl, took her inside their compartment and closed its door.
When the train started to move out of the platform of Godhra's railway station, the old
man was banging on the compartment doors, pleading for his daughter to be left alone,
two other vendors jumped into the last bogey and pulled the emergency break to stop the
train. By the time the train halted completely, it was about one kilometer away from the
railway station.
These two men then came to the bogey in which the girl was and started to bang at the
door asking the militants to release the girl. Hearing the chaos, people in the vicinity near
the tracks started to gather near the train. The boys and the mob (which included women)
that had now gathered near the compartment requested the Hindu militants to return the
girl. But instead of doing this, they started closing their windows. This infuriated the mob
and they retaliated by pelting stones at the compartment.15
As it pulled out of the station, the train was pelted with stones and bricks, and passengers
from several bogeys were forced to bring down their windows to protect themselves.
Someone pulled the emergency chain: the train came to a halt about 100 metres away

14 http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/gujarat-carnage-2002/215160
15 http://www.soundvision.com/article/what-happened-in-godhra-gujurat

from the platform, surrounded by a large crowd of Muslims. The railway police managed
to disperse the crowd, and the train resumed its journey.
Within minutes, the emergency chain was simultaneously pulled again, from several
coaches. It halted at about 700 metres from the station. 16 Apparently incensed by reports
of the misbehaviour with members of their community by the kar sewaks and the
molestation, even rumoured abduction, of a Muslim woman, a mob of up to 2,000 people
allegedly of Ghanchis from Singal Faliya attacked the train with stones and fire bombs. 17
A crowd of over 1,000 surrounded the train, pelting it with bricks, stones, then burning
missiles and acid bulbs, especially on some of the coaches. The vacuum pipe between
coaches S-6 and S-7 was cut.18The kar sewaks of almost equal strength threw stones
back. The main target of the Ghanchi mob was coach S6. 19 Firebombs were used by the
Muslim mob, and a fire broke out in Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express, which resulted
in the death of 59 Hindu passengers, mainly women and children. The whole attack lasted
20-25 minutes. This incident, which was a communal riot in a town with a long history of
communal outbreaks, became the trigger and justification for the carnage that followed.20
The Gujarat Government suspected this incident as a part of conspiracy hatched by some
Muslim terrorists of Jammu-Kashmir with some Muslim fundamentalists of Godhra to
16 http://www.jaia-bharati.org/nicole-elfi/ni-godhra-ang.htm
17 http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/gujarat-carnage-2002/215160
18 http://www.jaia-bharati.org/nicole-elfi/ni-godhra-ang.htm
19 http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/gujarat-carnage-2002/215160
20 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/gujarat.htm

spread terror and create fear in the minds of people of Gujarat. According to the State
Government, it was decided by the conspirators at Godhra, as a part of larger conspiracy,
to attack Karsevaks who were to return from Ayodhya by this train. In pursuance of that
conspiracy, this train was stopped and attacked near Godhra station with stones etc. and
thereafter its coach S/6 was set on fire by throwing burning rags and petrol therein. 21

POST GODHRA COMMUNAL VIOLENCE


By evening of February 27, 2002 retaliatory attacks against Muslims had begun. That
same day the Vishwa Hindu Parishad called for a statewide bandh (shut-down) for
February 28, 2002. The state's endorsement of the bandh, announced through a press note
issued at 8 p.m. on February 27, was taken by the VHP/Bajrang Dal as an endorsement of
its stand.22 Starting on the morning of February 28, Hindu mobs unleashed a coordinated
attack against Muslims in many of Gujarat's towns and cities. Feb. 28th was when the
greatest damage to life and property took place in Ahmedabad.23
After showing great hesitation, curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad and twenty six other
towns and cities by the evening of 28th February. The army was called in onlyon in the
afternoon of 1 March 2002 despite repeated requests by minority leaders and concerned
citizens. But before the arrival of army, communal violence had already spread into other
districts of Gujarat, like Panchmahal, Dahood, Sabarkantha, Vadodara, Kheda and
Gandhinagar.24

21
http://www.home.gujarat.gov.in/homedepartment/downloads/godharaincident
.pdf
22 https://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/india/India0402-03.htm
23 http://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/gujarat-carnage-2002/215160
24 http://www.onlinevolunteers.org/gujarat/reports/pucl/vv_annexure2.pdf

CASES OF COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN GUJARAT OCCURRED IN


THE LIGHT OF GODHRA INCIDENT (27th FEBRUARY, 2002)

1. GUJARAT TRAIN BURNING CASE


A special court IN 2011 pronounced the death penalty for 11 convicted in the Godhra
train burning case and handed down life sentence to 20 others.
Special judge P R Patel considering the case as "rarest of rare" pronounced death penalty
for 11 out of the 31 convicted in the case while 20 others were sentenced to life
imprisonment.
The prosecution had sought death sentence for all the 31 convicts, saying that it was a
heinous act.
Thirty-one people were convicted and 63 others, including the main accused Maulvi
Umarji, were acquitted on February 22 by a special court here in the 2002 Godhra train
burning incident that left 59 people dead and triggered violence in Gujarat that had
claimed the lives of over 1200 people, mainly Muslims.
The court acquitted prime accused Umarji while other prominent accused Haji Billa and
Rajjak Kurkur were convicted.
Scientific evidence, statement of witnesses, circumstantial and documentary evidence
placed on record formed the basis of the judgement.
The trial conducted inside the Sabarmati Central Jail here began in June 2009 with the
framing of charges against 94 accused in the carnage that had triggered widespread
communal riots in Gujarat. The accused have been charged with criminal conspiracy and

murder in burning of the S-6 coach of the train on February 27, 2002 near Godhra, about
125 km from here in which 59 people were killed.25
2. GULBARG SOCIETY CASE
Sixty-nine people, mostly Muslims all residents of Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad,
including former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, were killed when a mob went on a rampage
at Gulberg Housing Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra
train burning incident. Ehsan Jafri, then Congress MP and husband of Zakia Jafri, the
main petitioner in the case, was among 68 others who were burnt alive during the 2002
riots in Gujarat. Jafri`s allegations were investigated by a Special Investigating Team or
SIT appointed by the Supreme Court in March 2008. In 2011, the Supreme Court refused
to hear the case and said it would be handled by an Ahmedabad court. The SIT alleged
that the petition was a motivated one and was filed at the instance of anti-Modi activist
Teesta Setalvad. Jafri contested that decision and challenged the SIT`s closure report and
the clean-chit given to Modi. Arguments got over in September 2013. SIT counsel RS
Jamuar argued before the court that no direct or circumstantial evidence supporting
Jafri`s allegations was found, while her lawyers argued that SIT ignored the relevant
evidence and shielded the main culprits.26 A bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S
Thakur said there was no restraint on the trial judge to pronounce the verdict, and granted
him three months for it. The apex court had on August 5, 2015 also granted an extension
of three months to wind up the proceedings in the case. It had also declined to give bail
to the accused who had sought relief on the ground that since trial of the case has been
dragging, they were entitled to be released from jail.While District Judge P B Desai had
requested the apex court to grant three more months to complete the trial in the case, the
accused persons had written to it that due to delay in completing the proceedings, they
should be granted bail as they have been in jail for 10 years.27

25 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Death-for-11-life-sentence-for-20in-Godhra-train-burning-case/articleshow/7600059.cms
26 http://zeenews.india.com/news/gujarat/all-you-want-to-know-about-2002-gulberg-societymassacre_899438.html

3. SARDARPURA MASSACRE CASE


Sardarpura massacre was reported on the night of March 1, 2002, at the Shaikh Vaas
locality of Sardarpura village in the Vijapur taluka of Mehsana district. A mob of around
1,500 people had allegedly attacked the minority locality with 15-20 houses. Total 33
persons were charred to death in the massacre. 28 The prosecution had sought the death
penalty for those found guilty, pleading that the accused had brutally killed 33 people,
including 22 adults, 11 children and even an eight-month-old infant, when they set fire to
a house in Sardarpura village of Mehsana district on March 1, 2002, a day after the
Godhra train burning incident, which left 59 kar sevaks dead. It alleged that the attack on
members of the minority community was pre-planned and the conspiracy was hatched by
a local leader after the Godhra incident. It had also submitted that weapons were
distributed by the accused in the run-up to the incident. But the court did not award the
death sentence to any of the convicted. Public prosecutor S C Shah said the court had not
given the death penalty as it had read the charge of Section 302 of the IPC (Punishment
for murder) alongwith the charge of Section 149 of the IPC (Every member of an
unlawful assembly is guilty of the offence committed in prosecution of common object).
Viewing it as a mob fury killing, it handed the 31 found guilty the minimum sentence for
murder - life imprisonment. The 31 convicted have been found guilty for murder, attempt
to murder, rioting and other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), while they were
acquitted for criminally conspiring the murders. The accused had claimed that they were
being falsely implicated and that the violence was perpetrated by people who had come
from outside. The Sardarpura investigation, originally handled by the local police, was
one of the nine cases handed over by the Supreme Court in 2008 to a Special
Investigation Team (SIT) headed by R K Raghavan, who has earlier served as the chief of
the CBI. This is the first of these cases in which a verdict has been pronounced. Seventy-

27 http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/SC-Paves-Way-for-Verdict-in2002-Gulberg-Society-Massacre-Case/2016/02/22/article3291375.ece
28 http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/godhra-riots-epicentre-2002/

six people were originally arrested in the case. Two of them died during trial. One of the
accused is a juvenile and is facing trial in a juvenile court.
Out of the 42 acquitted, 11 were freed due to lack of evidence, while 31 were given the
benefit of doubt. These 31 have been asked to submit a solvency bond of Rs. 25,000
each. The court has also directed them not to leave the country without its permission.
While 8 of the accused are still in jail, the rest were out on bail. The families of the
accused who were acquitted were seen outside the court but the families of the victims
were not present. They would not come to court as they were still feeling scared.29
Criminal appeals against the judgment are pending before the Gujarat HC. Sometime
back, the HC had refused bail applications of the convicts, following which the convicts
approached the SC. 30
4. DIPDA DARWAJA MASSACRE
A family of 11 persons, including four children and a 65 year-old woman, was killed in
the mob attack at a house in the Dipda Darwaja locality at Visnagar town in north Gujarat
on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage.
Dipda Darwaja was one of the nine cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed
Special Investigation Team, headed by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan.31
A special trial court had, in July 2014, convicted 22 persons in the case, acquitting 61
others. Those acquitted from the case include former BJP MLA Prahlad Gosa. Eleven of
the convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court.
29 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/31-get-life-sentence-for-massacre-during-gujarat-riots-atsardarpura-566118
30 http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/godhra-riots-epicentre-2002
31http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/life-term-for-21-in-dipda-darwaja-massacrecase/article3702882.ece

One accused, the then police inspector of Visnagar police station and first investigator of
the case M K Patel was convicted under the charge of dereliction of duty and sentenced
to one year imprisonment. He was later released on bail. Both state government and the
convicts have moved appeals against the judgment before the HC and its still pending.
All the remaining 21 convicts in the case serving life sentence were granted regular bail
by a division bench of Gujarat HC in December 2013.32

5. ODE MASSACRES:
In one of the two separate incidents of communal violence in Ode town of Anand
district, 24 persons were charred to death at Pirawali Bhagol locality of the town on
March 1, 2002. The trial of the case was conducted by a special trial court which had
convicted 23 of the total 46 accused. All of them were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Remaining 23 were acquitted by the court. The appeals against the judgment are pending
before the Gujarat HC and all the convicts are lodged in jail.
In the second massacre, three persons from minority community were burnt to death by a
mob near Malav Bhagol area on March 1, 2002. Forty one persons were tried, of which
31 were acquitted and the remaining 10 were convicted. Nine of the convicts were
sentenced to life imprisonment while one was sentenced to six months imprisonment.
The nine convicts facing life imprisonment are in jail and appeals against the trial courts
judgment are pending before Gujarat HC. Currently, a court is conducting trial against
three other accused who were earlier absconding. One of them, who was in Singapore,
had surrendered before the police. Two others were arrested by the police from the United
Kingdom and Australia.
6. NARODA PATIYA CASE
The residents of Naroda Patiya, a small hamlet housing a few thousand poor Muslim
families in Eastern Ahmedabad would not have in their wildest imagination predict that
32 http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/godhra-riots-epicentre-2002/

they would be systematically butchered on 28th February, 2002. 97 Muslims were


tortured and burnt alive on that day.33 Naroda-Patiya violence, Ms. Yagnik said, acts of
communal violence are brutal, inhuman and shameful. Naroda-Patiya was a clear incident
of human rights violation as 97 people were killed brutally within a day who included
hapless women, children and aged persons. The climax of this inhuman and brutal act of
violence was reflected in the murder of an infant who was barely 20 days old.
Soon after the riots, the human rights activists and the Muslim witnesses had alleged that
a pregnant woman Kausarbanus womb was ripped open by rioters and the foetus was
flung out at the point of a sword. While one complaint accuses Guddu Chara, one of the
main accused in the Naroda Patiya case, of ripping open Kausarbanus womb, extracting
her foetus and flinging it with a sword; another complaint accuses Babu Bajrangi, yet
another accused in the case, of doing the act.34
The Gujarat High court began withfinal hearing on appeals in the Naroda Patiya riot case,
in which 97 people, mostly from minority community, were killed in 2002..
In this case, cross appeals have also been filed by the convicts, survivors and the
prosecution agency SIT on the issue of enhancement of the sentence or for challenging
the punishment awarded by the special trial court.
A special trial court had, in August 2012, convicted 31 persons and awarded life term to
30, including an ex-state minister Maya Kodnani for killings and criminal conspiracy,
while it had also awarded imprisonment till death to former VHP leader Babu

33 http://www.truthofgujarat.com/the-death-dance-at-naroda-patiya/
34 http://www.gujaratriots.com/index.php/2010/05/myth-16-a-pregnantwomans-womb-was-ripped-open/

Bajrangi.35 Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani, sentenced to 28 years' imprisonment


in the 2002 Naroda Patiya36
Two convicts, including Kodnani and Kirpalsingh Chhabra, were granted bail in this
case. 37
7. BEST BAKERY CASE
In this case, a mob attacked and burned down the Best Bakery in Vadodara, killing 14
people, including 12 Muslims.38.During the first trial in Gujarat in 2003, Zaheera and 36
witnesses had turned hostile. She had told the Supreme Court that they did so as they
were intimidated by families of the accused. The apex court then ordered a re-trial and
transferred the case to the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. After the riots, the prime
eye witness and complainant Zaheera Sheikh in the case turned hostile along with 36
other witnesses during the trial held in a Vadodara court.
Seventeen accused were retried in a highly secure court in Mumbai but once again
Zaheera turned hostile. Sessions judge Abhay Thipsay, however, convicted 9 of the 17
accused and said in his judgement that Zaheera and her family had lied to the court. ''The
evidence of the hostile witnesses leaves in no manner any doubt that they were lying and
have been tutored. It also appears that they been given monetary inducements.''

35 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-hc-beginsfinal-hearing-in-naroda-patiya-case/article7474327.ece
36 http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-0730/news/52237704_1_maya-kodnani-naroda-patiya-gujarat-high-court

37 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-hc-beginsfinal-hearing-in-naroda-patiya-case/article7474327.ece
38 https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/02/24/india-decade-gujarat-justiceincomplete

Two months after the judgement, in April 2006, the Supreme Court convicted Zaheera
Sheikh for contempt of court and sentenced her to a year's jail term which she served at
the Byculla Jail in Mumbai.39
8. BILKIS BANO CASE
Bilkis Bano, who was six months pregnant, was gang-raped during the communal
violence that erupted in Gujarat in 2002. Fourteen members of her family were also
brutally murdered by a violent mob. Eight persons including Bilkis three-year-old
daughter were killed and six were reported missing. Bilkis, then 23-years-old and five
months pregnant, was brutally gangraped.
Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai, Shailesh Bhatt, Radhyesham Bhagwan Das Shah, Bipin
Chandra Joshi, Kesarbhai Vohania, Pradeep Mordhiya, Bakabhai Vohania, Rajubhai Soni,
Mitesh Bhatt and Ramesh Chandana were held guilty of murder, gang rape and raping a
pregnant woman.
The prosecution demanded the death penalty for Jaswant Nai, Govind Nai and Shailesh
Bhatt, who were charged with raping Bilkis. However, the judge ruled that the death
penalty could only be given in the rarest of rare cases. In this case, the evidence was
blank on the role of each of the accused.40
the trial began in Ahmedabad. However, after Bano expressed fears that witnesses could
be harmed and the Central Bureau of Investigation evidence tampered with, the Supreme
Court transferred the case to Mumbai in August 2004.
The SC transferred the trial from Gujarat to Maharashtra on August 6, 2004, after Bilkis
made an application stating that the atmosphere in Gujarat was not conducive for a fair
trial.
39 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/best-bakery-case-bombay-high-courtgives-clean-chit-to-defence-lawyers-491855
40 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Gujarat+riots:
+12+found+guilty+in+Bilkis+Bano+case/1/3702.html

The CBI has filed an appeal in the high court seeking death penalty for three of the
convicts even as all the convicts have filed appeal challenging their sentence.
Apart from circumstantial evidence and Bilkis statement, additional sessions judge UD
Salvi relied on the statement of Bilkis minor nephew, Saddam, 8, who survived the brutal
attack, to convict the accused. Bilkis had identified all the accused and the statement of
Saddam corroborated her evidence.41
The trial began in the special court in Mumbai in January 2005. After recording
statements of 73 prosecution witnesses and ten defence witnesses, the court had started
dictating the judgment on December 5, 2007.42
A Mumbai lower court on Friday convicted 12 people, including a police officer, in the
gang-rape of Bilkis Bano and the murder of 14 members of her family during the 2002
Gujarat

sectarian

riots.

Additional sessions judge U.D. Salvi held 12 of the 20 accused guilty of rape, murder,
assault, conspiracy and causing enmity between two communities. The remaining seven
accused, including five police officials and two doctors, were acquitted.43
9. MACHIPITH
10. TARSALI
11. PANDARWADA
12. RAGHAVAPURA

41 http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/court-refused-bail-toconvict-in-bilkis-bano-case-113012100391_1.html
42 http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-12-convicted-in-bilkis-bano-casesentence-on-monday-1145978
43 http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/Gujarat+riots:
+12+found+guilty+in+Bilkis+Bano+case/1/3702.html

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)


The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), of India is an autonomous statutory body,
established on 12 October 1993, under the provisions of The Protection of Human Rights
Act, 1993 (TPHRA). National Human Rights Commission submitted its report on Gujarat
violence of 2002, on 31 May 2002. The Commission pointed, the violation of Article 21 of
constitution and other fundamental rights to life, liberty, equality and dignity. 97 The state
government and its officials violated the provisions of Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal
Procedure, provisions of maintenance of Public Order and Tranquility, the circulars of Home
Ministry on maintenance of communal harmony, issued in 1997 and recommendations of
Second Police Commission on maintenance of communal peace. 98 The Commission alleged
the political interference in investigating process and blamed the state government for not
being able to identify the culprits in cases of violations in rich urban areas. The former Chief
Justice, J.S Verma, who headed the NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) said,
The Gujarat carnage was nothing short of war in terms of suffering undergone by the
affected people. How is it different from war? Are their sufferings any less in war. In war
people die while fighting, in Gujarat, innocent and helpless men, women and children, were
taken out of their homes and burnt alive for no fault of theirs.
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Human Rights Watch (Foundation Year 1978) is an international non-governmental
organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in
New York city. In late April 2002, HRW produced a report on communal violence in Gujarat,
titled We have no order to save you: state participation and complicity in communal
violence in Gujarat.100 The basic thrust of report was, as its author Samita Narula states,
What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated
attack against the Muslims. The attacks were planned in advance and organized with
extensive participation of police and state government officials. 101 The report stated that the
attacks were state sponsored and were planned well in advance of Godhra incident.
Virtually, all blame for Gujarat violence was placed on the Sangh Parivar and the BJP

government. Despite it, the HRW had made many recommendations to state government of
Gujarat and central government of India to provide justice to the victims. 102
Concerned Citizens Tribunal-Gujarat 2002 The Concerned Citizens Tribunal, headed by
retired, Supreme Court of India, Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer observed that the BJP government
was responsible for genocide in Gujarat. This report clearly established that Chief Minister
Narendra Modi was the chief architect of all that happened in Gujarat after Godhra train
incident February 27, 2002. The state government under Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, took
an active part in leading and sponsoring, the violence against the minorities in Gujarat. The
RSS and VHP control key functionaries in the State. The Chief Minister was an RSS
pracharak. In the report, it was clearly written in the beginning, The post Godhra carnage in
Gujarat was an organized crime perpetrated by states Chief Minister and his government. 103
Peoples Union Democratic Rights (PUDR) The PUDR, one of Indias premier human
rights organizations, in its report (May 2002) titled Marro, Kaapoo, Baaro: State, Society
and Communalism in Gujarat, observed, the whole intent of pogroms has been to reduce
Muslims to second class citizens in their own country. The civil liberties of people were
violated. There was absence of rule of law and the state connived in this. Alternately, the BJP
state government did not allow the Gujarat police to function properly. The Muslims were
killed inside the government and the official buildings, police killed those who were being
attacked by rampaging mobs. FIRs were not properly written. There existed a pre-planned
strategy. The report also provides detailed lists of people, named as organisers and attackers.
Many of these are functionaries of ruling party, the BJP,VHP and Bajrang Dal. It demanded
the dismissal of Narendra Modi government in Gujarat. 104

ENQUIRY COMMISSION REPORT


TEWATIA REPORT:
The Council for International Affairs and Human Rights is deeply concerned over the
Godhra carnage that consumedIt is a gross violation of human rights of innocent citizens
who were roasted alive or brutally killed or maimed for no fault of theirs.
58 pilgrims, including 26 women and 12 children
The team left for Gujarat on April 1 and returned on April 7, 2002.

The Council is extremely grateful to Justice Tewatia and his team for conducting the
study and producing a comprehensive report.

ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSE
Based on the information collected from official and non-official sources at Godhra,
Ahemdabad and Vadodara the Study Team is of the considered opinion that:
1. The local administration did not respond with speed to the Godhra carnage. The police
remained a passive spectator and hesitated to use force against the miscreants. It made no
attempt to apprehend the leaders of the mob that indulged in burning alive innocent
pilgrims returning from Ayodhya. However, the administration took preventive measures
after the VHP gave a call for Gujarat bandh in protest against the attack on the train.
2. In Godhra, Vadodara and Ahmedabad the police tried to control the rioting mobs but,
more often than not, failed, as the police were outnumbered the mobs were
unexpectedly large and the police were inadequately armed. In certain cases, the
mob carried more lethal weapons that the police had.
3. The administration was not prepared to handle massive migration of riot affected
people of both the communities and did not have any idea of the quantum of the relief
and rehabilitation work required.
4. Co-ordination between the administration and the NGOs was inadequate.
5. Training and drills for managing communal tensions was conspicuous by its absence in
a state that periodically witnesses communal frenzy.
6. Socio-psychological understanding of the communal divide is lacking amongst the
officials.
7. The adverse comments on the transfers of officials in the media and not so much the
actual transfers demotivated the official machinery.
8. At many places policemen did commendable work of protecting life and property.
9. Policemen, by and large, responded to the situation without communal bias.
DEPLOYMENT OF ARMY
There has been lot of comments on the timing of the deployment of army in various
urban and rural areas in Gujarat after the outbreak of violence. Although the team did not
have enough time to go into the question in depth, the information made available to it
shows that there was no delay on the part of the Gujarat Government in summoning and
deployment of troops. A comparison with the past is presented for a proper perspective.
RELIEF AND REHABILITATION MEASURES

1. Many persons of both the communities whose houses were burnt or destroyed fled and
came to the nearby towns for shelter.
2. Many persons who feared an attack on them also fled and gathered in nearby towns.
3. The State Government arranged for shelters called Relief Camps to provide safe
temporary shelter to the displaced persons.
4. Many voluntary organizations of both the communities also opened Relief Camps for
the displaced persons.
5. The Government managed some camps while other camps were run by the voluntary
organizations.
6. Most of the inhabitants in the camps remained unoccupied, leading to idle talk and
further reinforcement of views on communal basis.
7. The inhabitants did not feel confident and safe to go back to their respective
habitations.
SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROFILES OF THE RIOTING MOBS
(Based on information collected from officials and public, no direct observation)
1. Muslim mobs predominantly included persons of lower socio-economic strata.
2. Muslim mobs included many known faces but number of persons not earlier seen in
the locality was also very large.
3. Hindu mobs, especially during the first week of March, comprised a mix of people
belonging to lower, lower middle and upper middle socio-economic strata of the society.
4. Involvement of upper middle class Hindus in arson and looting is a phenomenon seen
for the first time in the country.
5. The Hindu mobs appeared to be more interested in destroying the property of selected
establishments of Muslims. It was reported that a chain of restaurants with Hindu names
and owned by a Muslim family was targeted because of the perception that lot of money
from gulf countries had been invested thereby putting Hindu competitors at a
disadvantage.
6. Another new phenomenon reported to the Study Team was the presence and active
participation of women in the mobs.
INVOLVEMENT OF TRIBALS

Earlier in Gujarat, tribals never got involved in the Hindu- Muslim riots. However, their
involvement in post Godhra riots added a new dimension to the communal violence. In
rural areas the vanvasis attacked the Muslim moneylenders, shopkeepers and the forest
contractors. They used their traditional bow and arrows as also their implements used to
cut the trees and grass while attacking Muslims. They moved in groups and used coded
signals for communication.
Two factors seems to have contributed to this disturbing phenomenon:
1. A delegation of tribals told the Study team that the Muslim moneylenders, shopkeepers
and forest contractors have been exploiting the tribals for decades. They charged
exorbitant rate of interest to money loaned to tribals. In certain cases the rate of interest is
as high as 50 per cent per year.
Having got into this never-ending vicious circle of loans, the tribals have been reduced to
the status of bonded labour. Tribals working as servants are ill-treated by these money
lenders who happen to be Muslims.
The accumulated anger of years of exploitation became explosive when
moneylenders sexually exploited their womenfolk. The tribals are no longer allowed
to use forest produce that has been their sustenance for centuries. This too fuelled
the feelings of anger, hatred and revenge among them.
2. Tribals have, of late, become conscious of their Hindu identity because of the
awareness campaign launched by VHP and other Hindu outfits. Burning alive of Hindu
pilgrims by a Muslim mob at Godhra provided the spark for the fire of revenge and
hatred.
It may be mentioned that these are only exploratory postulations, scientific
anthropological, economic and sociological analysis is required to understand the
changed behavior of tribals.
CONCLUSIONS
TERRORISM NURTURED BY COMMUNAL DISHARMONY:
The Godhra carnage and related incidents make a typical case study of international
designs and conspiracies to weaken India as an emerging world power. Analysts and
professional strategists of all ideological inclinations converge on one forecast that India
is going to be a major player on the international scene sooner rather than later.
The global community also realizes the inevitability of India becoming an important
economic and military power. In such a situation it is but natural that nations hostile to
India or its adversaries make all out efforts to create impediments in this process.

Their strategy is to keep India engaged in communal and caste strife so that the nations
focus on development is defused and its endeavour to emerge as a super- power is
thwarted. It would surprise no one if Pakistan with the tacit support of not-so-friendly
neighbours and world powers hatches conspiracies to destablise and weaken the Indian
State.
A careful and in-depth analysis, if carried out with an open mind, would throw open an
action plans where terrorist activities appear to be merging with the already existing
strong antagonism between Muslims and Hindus. Our hostile neighbour, sometimes in
the guise of a friend, keeps on creating wounds on the body polity of our nation.
Creation and perpetuation of Kashmir problem is one such example. The support to the
authoritarian regimes in Pakistan by USA and European countries speaks volumes about
the super powers commitment, or lack of it, to democratic values. Godhra and the wide
spread communal violence in Gujarat in recent weeks is a part of this nefarious design.
The Study Team concludes:
1. Burning of 58 Hindu pilgrims at Godhra on 27.02.02 was an act of international
terrorism carried out with the evil objective of pushing the country into a communal
cauldron.
2. The plan was to burn the entire train with more than two thousand passengers in the
wee hours of February 27, 2002. It was a terrorist action plan that partly failed. The
perpetrators of the terrorist acts received support from jehadi elements operating from
Godhra. These included some Congress members of the Nagarpalika.
1. Preparations for enacting Godhra carnage were made in advance.
2. There were no quarrels or fights between Hindus and Muslim passengers on the train.
3. There were no quarrels or fights between the vendors and the Hindu pilgrims on the
platform of Godhra Railway Station.
4. The intention of the mob was to put to death all the pilgrims travelling by the
Sabharmati Express.
5. The fire fighting system available in Godhra was weakened and its arrival at the place
of incident wilfully delayed by the mob with the open participation of a Congress
Councillor, Haji Balal.
6. The demographic changes in Godhra in recent years have made it a centre for jehadi
activities.
7. The Army was requisitioned and deployed in time.

8. The police was on many occasions overwhelmed by the rioting mobs that were
massive and carried more lethal weapons than the police did.
9. Police did not have the training and know-how to mange situations of communal strife
witnessed in the state in recent weeks.
10. Barring a few exceptions, the police was not found to be communally motivated.
11. Frequent deployment of army for internal management weakens the defence of our
international borders and facilitates infiltration from across the border.
12. The local administration and police at Godhra did not take adequate and prompt
action even after the receipt of information about the attack on the train by an armed
mob. The local police was reluctant to use force against the rioting mob and made no
attempt to arrest the leaders of the gang.
13. The local administration and the police should have been on the alert in view of the
demographic and political changes taking place in the town.
15. The administration in Godhra, Ahmedabad and Vadodra was on the whole sensitized
to the plight of Muslim minorities in their respective areas. However, the police failed to
protect the citizens from frenzied mobs indulging in arson, looting and killing.
16. The relief work was carried out by establishing relief camps for victims of the riots.
There are separate camps for Hindus and Muslims. Refugees are not satisfied with the
facilities available in the camps.
17. Riot-affected citizens belonging to both the communities are reluctant to go back to
their homes due to communal tension and apprehensions about violence.
18. Although Gujarat is a state notorious for communal riots, the bureaucracy and the
police are not trained to handle communal riots and to take pre-emptive action to prevent
sectarian violence.
19. Alternate strategies to mange communal divide have not been worked out.
20. Adverse media reports about role of officials affected their performance and demotivated them. Several officers were reluctant to take firm action.
21. Gujarati language media was factual and objective. Yet its propensity to highlight the
gory incidents in great details heightened communal tension.
22. English language media, particularly the Delhi Press, is perceived by the Gujaratis to
be biased. The information disseminated by it was neither balanced nor impartial.

23. By converting half-baked news stories into major headlines, print as well as
electronic media widened the psychological hiatus between Muslims and Hindus.
24. By disseminating half-truths and lies, the media played no mean role in distorting
countrys image in the World.
25. The credibility of the media both electronic and print is at dangerously low ebb in
Gujarat.
The sectarian violence in Gujarat that began in Godhra on 27.02.02 can be divided into
four phases:
1. The first phase was Godhra incident which was planned and executed by a
combination of external and internal jehadi forces. It lasted for less than an hour.
2. The second phase was the reaction of Godhra where Hindu pilgrims were roasted alive
in the train. The backlash was very intense for 3-4 days. However, sporadic incidents
continued for several weeks.
3. The third phase began on 15.03.02 after a Muslim mob attacked a Hindu procession
chanting Ram dhun. Extensive media coverage of this attack provoked yet another round
of communal riots that lasted for 4/5 days.
4. Sectarian violence continues even more than a month after Godhra. This fourth phase
of violence has no provocation or justification other than to sustain the Remove Modi
campaign. It is the constitutional duty of the State Government to protect citizens and
maintain law and order.
It is also in the partisan interest of the ruling party in the state to put an end to the
communal violence as its continuity in office depends on how soon and how
effectively it combats violence. It is, therefore, hard to reject Chief Ministers
contention that the Congress party that has a vested interest in getting him sacked is
perpetuating the communal violence by provoking stray incidents.
Thus the Study Team concludes:
26. Communal violence in Gujarat has become politicized, and instead of treating it as
human tragedy it is being used to get political mileage by political parties.
27. Loaded statements made by political leaders propounding their action plans increases
the hiatus between Muslims and Hindus.
28. Continued communal violence in Gujarat has tarnished the image of the country in
international field thereby reducing its status and bargaining power. Western countries
jealous of Indias growing clout in the international community have used the riots to
interfere in our internal affairs. The Centre has taken some steps to stem the rot but the

role of the opposition is negative. It is encouraging Muslim outfits to involve foreign


powers in their oust Mody campaign.
29. On the world canvass today strong indicators are visible that point to a concerted
effort by jehadi forces to slow down ever- increasing importance of India in the world
affairs.
30. There are also concerted efforts to disintegrate India, politically as well as
emotionally.
31. There are elements within the country that help and collaborate with the forces
inimical to India.
32. The governing class in India is ignorant or wilfully blind to the threat perceptions
posed by the jehadi forces.

G.T. NANAVATI COMMISSION: This Commission was set up in 2002 by the Gujarat
Government to probe both, fire in Sabarmati Express at Godhra on February 27, 2002 and
post-Godhra riots in the state.
It submitted the first part of its report related to the Sabarmati Express in 2008, which
said that the train burning was a pre-planned conspiracy involving some individuals.
The same year, after the death of Justice K.G. Shah, retired HC Justice Akshay Mehta
was appointed to the Commission.
The Nanavati Commission report makes it clear that, there is absolutely no evidence to
show that either Chief Minister and any other Minister in his Council of Ministers or
police officers had played any role in Godhra incident. It gave a clean chit to
government and Narendra Modi.
On 18 November 2014, the final report was submitted by the Commission to the Gujarat
government.44 The state-appointed Commission, headed by Retired Supreme Court judge
Justice GT Nanavati, had taken 24 extensions over the last 12 years. In its final report, the
Commission was expected to give its opinion and recommendations on the roles played
44 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/2002-gujarat-riots-nanavaticommission-submits-final-report-to-gujarat-chief-minister-anandibenpatel/article6611260.ece

by various politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi who was the Chief
Minister of Gujarat at the relevant time along with a number of bureaucrats and police
officers in the Gujarat Government, who had or have been holding top positions.45
Refusing to divulge the contents of the 2000-page final report, Justice Nanavati said, "It
would be a breach of conditions of the Legislative Assembly.... It is up to the state
government to make it public".46

In Independent India, communal violence has been going on through


various ups and downs and has started becoming worse from the decade of
1980s when the politics around Shah Bano, Ram Mandir and later the
politics of Rath Yatra and Babri Masjid demolition took the ugly shape.
The Gujarat riots in 2002 had shaken the whole country very badly and
there were voices that the existing laws do not permit intervention by the
Central Government and, therefore it was felt that there should be a separate
law to prevent recurrence of such carnage resulting in the death of thousands of
innocent people and bringing shame to our country. It is necessary to have a
new law aimed specifically at communal violence. It was in this context that the draft of
the Bill prepared by a Working
Group of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC), bearing the
title Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and
Reparations) Bill, 2011 came into being.1
The Bill is a pro-active measure to prevent communal violence,
rehabilitate those affected by violence and make the officers accountable for
such atrocities. The Bill was originally introduced by the United Progressive
Alliance (UPA-I) Government in 2005 but could not get Parliaments approval
due to many factors, including the raw nature of the legislation.
The NAC goes beyond the existing legislation in four significant ways, it
recognizes identity-based or targeted crimes and organised mass violence as
special offences, while placing accountability of public officials at the heart of
45 http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat/nanavati-commission-submits-final-

report-on-2002-gujarat-riots/#sthash.1MfB426z.dpuf
46 http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/nanavati-commission-submits-finalreport-on-gujarat-riots-699588

the law, with varying penalties for dereliction of duty. Finally, it provides for
the creation of a National and State Authorities to ensure the liability of public
officials as well as to ensure justice and reparation once in the wake of
violence.
The proposed law will be a Central enactment and is brought to curb the
communal riots taking place between majority and minority community. The
Bill was awaited with great hope by not just minorities, but by other secular
citizens as well who are intensely concerned about imminent and serious
threats mounted to the secular character of our society and polity.
It was indeed good news for all those who have been fighting against the
evil of communal violence which erupts in our country at regular intervals. It
was felt that such law must come into effect as early as possible so that future
recurrence of communal violence may be prevented. It is also important to note

that present laws are sufficient to take care of any communal situation but
problem is that these laws are not honestly implemented.

Apparently Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice


and Reparations) Bill, 2011 is brought to curb the riots taking place between
majority and minority communities. After the alleged post-godhra riots in
Gujarat, the so called secularists are going pillar to post to bring this
enactment. So called social activists like Teesta Settlewad, Asgar Ali ENgineer
are the people involved in pushing this draft bill. 47

47 https://www.hindujagruti.org/activities/campaigns/religious/communalviolence-bill/