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Unease over an acquittal

india Updated: Feb 23, 2011 00:33 IST
Mahesh Langa

The acquittal of Godhra train-tragedy prime-accused Maulavi Hussain Umarji by a special fast-track court on Tuesday is another source of discomfiture for Gujarat police.

Umarji is a leader of the Tabligh-e-Jamat and a front-ranking member of the Ghanchi sect among Muslims. Also, he is known to be a philanthropist who had organised relief after the devastating Gujarat earthquake of January 26, 2001.

Gujarat police is already facing flak for several alleged fake encounters that took place under Narendra Modi as chief minister.

The maulavi's son Saeed Umarji said: "From the very beginning, due to faulty investigation, my old father was confined to prison for eight long years. I think big injustice was done to us."

"Our faith in the judiciary got further strengthened today (Tuesday)," he added.

Gujarat police had described him as the main accused who had ordered four of his lieutenants to mobilise a mob at the station to target the S-6 bogey carrying kar sevaks on February 27, 2002.

He was also charged with hatching the conspiracy in a meeting allegedly convened by him.

Gujarat police arrested Umarji a year after the train-burning incident.

His arrest was based on a statement made by an accused called Zabir Bin Yamin Behra, who had said Maulavi Umarji and Haji Bilal were two of the main conspirators.

The trial court, which conducted the trial, has accepted the confession made by Behra, who had stated Godhra was not the result of an accident or provocation but was a conspiracy.

Subsequently in 2008, when the Nanavati commission submitted its first part of the report pertaining to the train-burning incident, it held that the maulavi had played a crucial role in hatching the conspiracy.

The most serious "fact" that supposedly transpired during the maulavi's interrogation was that he had received hawala money from abroad.