Godhra blaze an accident, not plot | india | Hindustan Times
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Godhra blaze an accident, not plot

The February 2002 Godhra train fire that led to the Gujarat riots was accidental, not deliberate, Justice Banerjee Committee said in its final report.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 22:00 IST

The February 2002 Godhra train fire that led to the Gujarat riots was accidental, not deliberate, the Justice U.C. Banerjee Committee said in its final report.

Presenting the report to Railway Board chairman J.P. Batra, Justice Banerjee said he had stuck to what he said in his interim report on January 17, 2005 — that there was nothing deliberate about the fire.

Justice Banerjee said it was impossible that the doors of coach S6, which bore the brunt of the fire, were locked since about 200 people had managed to escape. He said only railway employees could lock the coaches.

Quoting an income-tax employee who crawled out of the coach, he concluded that many passengers died when they trampled on each other.

The probe panel head recalled the hurdles he faced in Gujarat. He said till he was conferred with powers under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, he could not get several senior state police and admin istrative officials to depose before him. It took him one-and-a-half years to get the Gujarat officials to co-operate.

Justice Banerjee's final report, submitted a day before his extended term was to end, has also dealt with fire safety on trains and made some recommendations.

In his interim report, the oneman inquiry committee had said evidence suggested that the fire originated in the coach, without any external input.

Asked about Justice Nanavati's comments on his interim findings, Justice Banerjee said he could not say anything about him. “What I can do about somebody’s mindset,” he asked.

Railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had appointed the Justice Banerjee committee in September 2004 to probe the train fire.