What happened in Godhra, Gujurat?

Railway station in Godhra, Gujarat

The Godhra train incident is what most reports about the violence in Gujurat, India point to as the starting point for the barbarism and massacre of Muslims that followed. This is why it is critical to understand exactly what happened there.

About 60 people died in the train attack. Most of them were Hindu. Later on Hindu militants burned and looted Muslim properties for several days, resulting in about 5,000 deaths, according to Muslim sources.

Initial reports on February 27 presented the incident as a pre-planned Muslim mob attack on the Sabarmati Express train against "innocent" Hindu activists who had begun traveling from the city of Ayodhya. However, as the facts began to trickle out, a different picture has emerged.

While it is true that many of the passengers were women and children, others were militant Hindu activists who were involved in various forms of hooliganism. From the time these 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.

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, reporting in the March 6, 2002 edition of the Washington Post, details some of the "hooliganism" that took place: the militant activists exposed themselves to other passengers, pulled headscarves off 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.

These details are corroborated by eyewitness accounts. One of these comes from a group led by a few members of the Indian parliament who are trying to get the facts straight about the issue. It is headed by Dr. Amar Singh, a member of parliament from Samajwadi Party, who spoke with two of the Hindu victims of the train-burning incident in Godhra. They revealed that, "all along the journey these Ramsevaks (the Hindu militants) were behaving like Gundas (thugs). They wouldn't pay for what they had bought from the vendors. On stations they would chant anti-Muslim rhymes and slogans, insulting Muslim Holy places. There was teasing as well of both fellow passengers and women on the platforms." This fact-finding delegation, comprised of Rajbabbar (M.P. Samajwadi), Shabana Azmi (M.P.) and Aziz Burni (Editor of a leading Urdu news paper, Rashtriya Sahara), was one of the first groups to arrive in the strife-torn area. They visited the hospital and there they found these two victims (from a Hindu family) of the Godhra incident.

By the time the train reached Godhra, vendors at the town's station had already heard about the activists' antics and were prepared not to be victimized. Events played out as expected. "When the train reached Godhra, they behaved with the same bad manners. They refused to pay one tea vendor and even after beating him up, they threw him off the train," noted the Hindu eyewitnesses.

But in response to this behavior, the Hindu militants did not find passive tolerance. Instead, a number of young Muslims got on the train as it was pulling out of the station and pulled the emergency brake half a mile away from Godhra's station, right in the midst of a Muslim neighborhood. The fight began with rock throwing from both sides. The compartment carrying the militants was found stockpiled with stones.

While the stone-throwing was going on, apparently some Muslims threw a burning mattress below the compartment of these militants. But the fire spread quickly, not allowing the passengers to run since the compartment was filled with kerosene and cooking gas carried by the passengers.

The above description is based upon several reports in the Indian press. However, Muslims in the area add another point to this sad story. They say things got out of hand when the daughter of an old Muslim man with a small tea stall at the train station was kidnapped. The Hindu militants argued with this old man, beat him up and pulled his beard. 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 while 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.

The sections beside compartment S-6 on both sides contained VHP militants. They started attacking the mob which had gathered to save the girl, with long bamboo sticks attached to them. This is when the anger became uncontrollable and some people in the crowd started using diesel and petrol from trucks and rickshaws standing nearby and burned down the compartment.

This story of the girl's kidnapping has not been reported by any newspaper, although most of the other elements were widely reported by the media despite the BJP government's effort to tie the incident to Pakistan. Even the government-owned All India Radio reported that the whole incident was provoked by the traveling Hindu militants. The Radio staff however was reprimanded by the BJP government.

"Both sides were at fault," said a police official here, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The provocation was there and the reaction was strong. But no one had imagined all this would turn into such a big tragedy." B.K. Nanavati, the deputy police superintendent in Godhra, said the investigation does not support the contention by Gujarat's chief minister, Narendra Modi, that the assault on the train was a "terrorist attack."

India is, after all ruled by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), a militant Hindu nationalist party which subscribes to many of the same views as the Ramsevaks on the train. Minorities, Muslims and Christians in particular, have already been told that they do not belong to this country which calls itself the world's largest democracy. It remains to be seen how the BJP will handle the fallout of this horrific violence.

 

Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Godhra_jn_railway_station.JPG

Comments

If carsevek kidnaped minor muslim girl of vendor then why his name and details is not included. Beacuse of this anger broke out and train burned out by muslim ghanchies is not acecpted.When kakare kamate and salaskar were shot dead all muslim in mubai were telling that it is work of narendra modi. But we know this is not fact. But muslim shoud come forward to press and declires names then truth will come out and culprits can be nabed and law will take care of that.

Location

mumbai

I am writing my college essay in this topic.So i read all this comments and what happen in godhra ,gujarat? i knew what happen in godhra bs i was in godhra when the train was burned.but i didn,t knew about a girl who was tring to raped by ram sevaks even i was in godhra.this is very same for ram sevaks.they are GUNDAS.Modi goverment is nothing doing with out spreding their BJP.the truth is,In godhra when seveks tried to rape on innocent small muslims gril,but this rude thing not saw in new papers and not in t.v chanales.WHy? every body was like it only made by muslims, BJP goverment foacks only that topic.no one try to know why muslims so anger?that they fired the train.If the ram sevaks did not do this wores things,than still those people who were not folted ,burned in the train are alive.I clearly bleam on ram sevaks who are called RAM's servents but their image is GUNDA.

Location

USA

you regret when muslims or christians killed or beaten by hindus... but you secularist hindus please dont claim yourself as hindu. you are a shame to hindu race. because you dont feel sorry for your brothers and sisters..

Location

chennai

This is the first time I am posting a comment online, and I felt compelled to do so by reading the comments below, especially the one below. People like Abhishek are the ones who apologise first, and then feel free to slap you. They are people who find it easy to hide behind the claim they are 'INDIAN', and then go on to decry all that our nation stands for. A true Indian will never differentiate between religions, castes, communities. India's beauty lies in its varied people all living as one. So what if Pakistan and Bangladesh might or might not behave how they should? I believe, as do many other fellow Indians that India is a land that sets an example, not blindly follows it. But in these modern times, we seem to have lost our way, unthinking puppets in the hands of criminals/politicians. Let us just remember no religion preaches hatred of fellow human beings, leave alone fellow countrymen. Peace be with you all, and peace be in India, our glorious home .

Location

Mumbai

This is Abhishek, an INDIAN...not a hindu, not a muslim...But let me tell you all very clearly, the way muslims are treating Hindus, at places were Hindus are minorities, inculcates hinduism indside me...what is this afterall???...I read Syed's comments...I appreciate that he call himself INDIAN muslim...Hats off to him...But see the inner part shows off...In the end he is asking all non muslims to beware...because they(muslims) are 'only second largest in population'...My brother Syed.. what does that imply?? PLease dont pull me to say anything about the position of Hindus and Hindu Temples in Pakistan and Bangladesh... Its my question to all my muslim brothers... In bangladesh and pakistan, thousands of temples have been Destroyed..Lakhs of Hindus have migrated..But still Indian Hindus are calm.......BUT, ONE..ONLY ONE MOSQUE ...Babri Masjid was demolished... and that too only because hindus treat that place as BITHPLACE OF THEIR GOD(What an Irony..God is also divided)......and it results in vast scale riots across whole of the subcontinent...This shows the Muslims response to opression....But, you keep on breaking temples, expelling Hindus from their own country bangaladesh and pakistan(I guess hindu's staying there are equally citizens of these countries), But until and unless you do something as intolerable like roasting alive of around 60 hindus, including women and children(whom they say are Hindu extremists), will the hindu wouldnt rise up in offence. What do it implies..My brothers, let me tell you that i am a firm believer of GOD.. and i know that what muslims call allah, hindus call ram... But do all you muslim brothers have the heart to accept who is more hot blooded, more violent...I strictly oppose, building of Ram Temple at ayodhya, Heyy..... ram is in my heart..He is in everybody's heart, only difference being, muslims call him allah. O My Dear People Across The World.... please remember the words of God...Let the other name for religion be Humanity...O My Dear indians... stop calling youself Indian Hindus or Indian Muslims... call yourself INDIANS..just INDIANS..and even before that..... HUMANS. Let GOD live in your heart...we dont need temples and mosques any more, We can have god in our hearts and in our homes. What we need more is Schools for imparting thinking conscience to our children, more employment for our powerful youth.... So Can I Appeal to all the INDIANS... Brothers, these things will keep on going, these evils will keep on trying to break us, but let us take a oath in the name of GOD that whatever these evil people keep doing... at ayodhya or godhra... we wouldnt get moved and cut each other... we would remeber God, and always work for peace and development of our great country INDIA and rest of the world... Long Live India, Long live Humanity

Location

bangalore

I am a Hindu but this message is to my Muslim brothers and sisters.I would advise them not to judge Hinduism by the karsevaks,VHP or the BJP because we all know that they are perverted.

Location

New Delhi

I believe muslims are responsible for all problems occuring in this world.

Location

Delhi

This article brings several incidents which didnot see light then, thats good. There are no excuses for killing people. Since kar sevaks were mis behaving doesnot make people burn the train. what do we call the act of burning the train. Punishing them?? how about people aboard in the compartment who are innocent. there were countable kar sevaks who can be controlled if the train was halted untill police arrived. This incident is an example of careless attitude of people on human values. We all have to realize that one action taken in anger can cause many losses.

Location

USA

Hi iam am Indian Muslim. I have good Hindu friends in Bangalore and some other places. we are all share other feelings and we used to be as brother' s and sister's. But the godhra case particularly proved that India is not a Democracy Country. This is because of VHP, who are cruel people and believs worshipers of Ram. This is a shame on the hindu religion who beleives that their religion is a peace religion in the world!. i hate BJP Government and also proven to be India's choice by not selecting this time. I think this BJP government should be totally demolished in the near future. These are the persons who are anti-social elements in the country. who shows a false impression on muslims.I read in some news paper that chief minister Modi saying to remove all muslim posts in the gujarat who are in various departments. This is true. These are the elemnts who are making Hinduism a cruel religion and beleive me if government is not going to act on this issue by eliminating them, muslims are going to prove what they are and what they can do!!!!!!!!!!!. They have already shown their power to U.S, it wont be any problem to demolish them(BJP Activists) totally!!! Muslims are the second in population in the world. If all of them come together then these BJP GUNDAS will sure reach RAM by Chanting HARE RAMA.. HARE KRISHNA!!!!!!!!!!!!! In that Godhra train incident, these activists try to rape a muslim girl(17 year) and slogans against muslim sacred places and books!!!. If this happens again then muslims will show their other face to them. They are like minorities(like what they say) but stronger than them.Dont ever dream to destroy muslims else u will be punished!!

Location

Bangalore

If the story is true then yes the mis-behaving kar sevaks should be punised but burning train and killing innocent people can't be justified on any grounds. The same goes for the whole communual killing after the train attack incident. The culprits must be punished. There can't be any justification to killing people.

Location

USA

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