The Gujarat government on Thursday insisted there was chain pulling for the second time to stop the Sabarmati Express at Godhra after it had left the platform on February 27, 2002.
The government's counsel Sunit Shah made the submission before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, which is probing the 2002 Gujarat riots triggered by the alleged torching of Sabarmati Express train at the Godhra station, which resulted in the death of 58 passengers, who were mostly Hindus.
The chain pulling for the second time is important for the BJP-ruled Gujarat government to prove its "conspiracy" theory behind the carnage as "kar sewaks" and other passengers have already testified that the chain pulling for the first time was done by themselves because many of their colleagues were left behind when the train moved out of the platform.
During earlier proceedings in the commission, the Jan Sangharsh Manch representing the riot victims had countered the "conspiracy" theory by seeking to prove that there was no chain pulling for the second time. It maintained that the train has dragged for some distance as the chain pulling disc was not set right in at least two of the compartments.
The power-point presentation by JSM in January contended that the trouble at the platform on that fateful morning could be attributed to the skirmishes arising out of "kar sewaks" attempting to abduct a Muslim girl, some of them not paying for their tea and snacks and a bearded vendor not being allowed to enter a coach.
But the state government has always insisted that the train was torched as part of a "conspiracy" by Muslims.
Shah told the two-judge commission that it was an undisputed fact that there was heavy stone-pelting on the train before it erupted into flames.
Refuting the JSM contention that the train could not have been stopped from outside, Shah said the manner in which the train came to a halt indicated that chain was pulled for the second time.
However, on being questioned by the two judges exactly how the train could be stopped from outside, all Shah could say was that the manner in which the whistle was blown indicated that the chain had been pulled.
Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) counsel Deepak Shukla too sought to support the "conspiracy" theory by quoting from the Railway Claims Tribunal, which, in its rulings granting compensation to the victims, has noted about the mob attack on the Sabarmati Express.
The two-judge commission refused to entertain the VHP argument saying that the observations of the Railway Claims Tribunal are not binding on this commission formed under Commission of Inquiries Act.