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Godhra controversy rages on

The lone survivor of the Sabarmati Express train fire at Godhra, Gayatri Panchal, a resident of Ahmedabad, has decried the UC Banerjee Commission report. The tragedy and the comedy of the whole matter is that Justice Banerjee has not chosen to examine this lone survivor of the ghastly accident and this fact by itself will invalidate his whole report as one-sided, biased, prejudiced, illegal and unconstitutional.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 19:53 IST

The lone survivor of the Sabarmati Express train fire at Godhra in which 59 kar sevaks were killed on February 27, 2002, Gayatri Panchal, a resident of Ahmedabad, has decried the UC Banerjee Commission report.

Though she survived, she lost both her parents that day. She has decried the UC Banerjee Commission report and has said:

“I will stick to the version that the coach was attacked by an armed crowd. The report of the Banerjee Commission is absolutely wrong. I have seen everything with my own eyes and barely escaped myself but lost both my parents. Mobs pelted stones at the coach for long and then threw in burning rags and also poured some inflammable material so that the coach was on fire. I will maintain the same wherever I am called to depose on the matter.”

The tragedy and the comedy of the whole matter is that Justice Banerjee has not chosen to examine this lone survivor of the ghastly accident and this fact by itself will invalidate his whole report as one-sided, biased, prejudiced, illegal and unconstitutional.

All human rights have been violated by his pointed failure to examine this lone survivor. Amnesty International should take note of the casual and contemptuous attitude of this careerist judge who has completely ignored the lone survivor and come to the conclusion that the whole incident was accidental and not an act of a terrorist.

Arvind Pandya, a Gujarat government advocate, handling the Sabarmati train carnage inquiry at Nanavati Commission, has rightly termed Justice UC Banerjee report as “oblique” and “pre-decided”. He has observed, “If the report says that the fire in the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train was accidental, then why does it not explain the presence of an armed and rioting mob next to the train?”

Pandya has also questioned Banerjee Commission's reasons for not taking into consideration the detailed report of the forensic laboratory of Gujarat that had pointed out that at least 60 litres of inflammable liquid had to be poured into the coach for it to catch fire in the manner that the S-6 of Sabarmati coach had caught fire on February 27, 2002.

Justice Nanavati and Justice Shah appointed by the Government of Gujarat have examined thousands of witnesses and several thousands are still waiting to give evidence. One Bhatia has filed a PIL case in the Gujarat High Court on the Constitutional validity of the appointment of the Banerjee Commission and this case is still pending.

The Gujarat High Court has requested that the implementation of the Banerjee Commission report should be kept in abeyance till final orders are passed in the case before it. When such is the case, Justice Banerjee has been able to give an interim finding based on non-saffron UPA coalition politics within a period of 90 days and to later confirm his own finding with a final magisterial verdict that the whole thing is a cock and bull story.

To say the least, his report is snappy, short, biased, prejudiced and one-sided. In these days of instant coffee and instant “rasam”, he has given an instant report in the manner and measure called for. Having given his report as directed by the UPA Government in New Delhi, can we not imagine that he now awaits his further career prospects by way of appointment as Governor, India's High Commissioner or Ambassador, or conferment of decorations ranging from Padma Shri to Bharat Ratna, depending upon his luck, pluck and influence.

With men like Buta Singh and Natwar Singh out of his way, his prospects do seem to be very bright.

Perhaps, this will open the eyes of Vir Sanghvi.

First Published: Mar 06, 2006 19:53 IST