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

.aaj tak maine aisa koi incidence nahi face kiya na jisme hindu muslim wali baat aye" If that is the situation then i can guarentty u dat ur living in the most peacful and buetyfull place in india! As per the case is concern there are several.case being filed some are still running its indian judiciary

Location

Kerala

benchod muslimni to gand marvi joy jo e loko evu kare to

Location

kualaumpur

Guys why r v debating for what we hav'nt witnessed. Do you think that what we hear or read is all true. God only knows the truth. We are all living in the world of hatred, revenge, past history which we hav'nt seen. Mother of all this problem is, partition and worst is some muslims stayed in India and this problem will never end until some magic happens

Location

bangalore

You fuc king musallah!!! baised against we peace-loving hindu. n published all baseless stories...

Location

Delhi

you know i shudder to think am a hindu..i feel like puking when i think i am vorn to a bloody religion which killed 6000 muslims in Gujarat, 2 lakh muslims in jammu, so many others in mumbai, calcutta, meerut..so many christians in orissa and they dont even spare their own religion, dalits killed in jehanabad, kherlanji, laxmanpur bathe, mirchpur, gohana, were all hindus themselves..this upper caste hindu thigs should be killed and hanged in public.

Location

delhi

Hi according to me 1st v have to kill syed from blore, wt the shit he is speaking??? hang him in public, In godhra there was nothing wrong has been done from karasewakas, everything is from muslims. If there were ready with thousand litres of petrol for burning the train & they were in 1000 numbers, without preplan this can never happen. karasewakas raped the muslim girl n all bull shit things, nothing is true.Wat narendramodi is done its 100% currect, u syed c he is goint 2 be india's next prime minister ok, u muslimsgo n hang yourself. Without indian muslims support no terrorist can enter india n preplan his things, who willprovide accoodation,food everything, every muslim will support terrorist, so 1st we have to kill the muslims who r supporting terrorists in india.If all indian hindus get together means there will not be any one to sayi am muslim. Godhra is an revenge for muslim activity n a warnign to them, if muslims live calmy in india everyone will support otherwise they r going to pay for it.

Location

bangalore

When I stared reading this article,I thought it would have some balance on reality.I was there in Ahmedabad when this incident occured.This so called secular article is so offensive to people like us.I know millions of middle class gujaratis share my views.Reality is seen in a twisted way.First of all,why Godhra incident should take place in the first place?What was the reason?Why?Muslims live in hindu majority state ,still they have guts to burn alive 40 people.....What were they thinking.....these 'daal- bhat' eating people would just watch and do nothing ? The morning after the Godhra incident,I still remember we all were like numb,did not know how to react to this kind of babarism.We all felt kind of relieved when the following incidents started happening.There is a very thin line between cowardness and tolerance.No way it could be tolarated.In Ahmedabad,there are streets where people are scared to walk even in braod day light.When Pakistan wins aganst India in cricket match ,they do fireworks to celebrate the victory of Pakistan.Why?Have they become so shameless and fearless they can do anything living in this country?It was a good lesson for people like that.As for killing of innocent muslim people,there is a saying that'innocents has to pay for the crimes of the guilty'.When I read this kind of 'seculer 'article,I wonder from where this people are getting their facts.One needs to live in the minds of local people to write anything about very sensitive issues like this.They are twisting the realities and people living outside of gujarat have only this kinds of articles to get hold of the situation and they are getting the wrong side of the story.When you write articles on sensitive issues,there is a moral responsibility...To please few seculars and muslims,you are offending millions of hindus....The 'Times of India' newspaper did the same thing...started twisting the reality...people stared unsubsribibng the newspaper.Nobody was talking about the main incident'Godhra incident'.....why did that happen?few people were going on pilgrimage.....how ruthlessly and with pre planned strategy they were burned alive...Nobody was talking about them.Everybody was concetrating on following incidents.Why?Anyways,after all these years,the memories are still alive.People havent forgotten it.God bless Narendra Modi!

Location

NJ

OK..Lets start with Past ..In india there was not even a single muslim ...Muslims invaded india...Killing,rape,destroying of thousands of temples done by them...Ok,It's Ok...then in 1947 they again started to Kill Hindus ...SO all muslim want that whenever they kill any hindu ,Hindus cant do anything ...if they do they are wrong...You say that we're brother ,son of same God & bla bla...Just give me a single example when Hindus first attacked muslim...or they tried to convert them to Hindu....Godhra was just an example....now Hindus Know what they should do to defend themselves....Now Just try another Godhra we'll show you the Power...Go to hell with ur religion...

Location

Guys, One thing i would like to share is that we all are humans then the religion come in to picture. What happend in Godhra has been preplaned by few but done by so many who were influence by few they were muslim as well as hindus killed. Let me ask who suffered the Middle and lower classs people both Muslim and Hindus suffered. Who gained from this .. who wanted our votes, support. I would blame all this on only two people leader of Ram Sevak and Narender modi. They took advantage of Hindu and muslim use them like ponds in their chess bord. To clairfy i am not treating Ram Sevak and Narender.. i would have blamed even muslim organization if they would have identified in doing so.. this kind of riot dosen't reduce the threat of Terrorism but increase and fuel its many time. This kind of event provide good amount of people to Terriost group.

Location

Chennai

its a very nice article

Location

gujarat

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