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Nanavati Commission contradicts Banerjee pane


Meghdoot Sharon,CNN-IBN
Sep 25, 2008 at 11:31pm IST

New Delhi: Gujarat government tabled first part of Nanavati Commission report in Assembly on Thursday. The commission was investigating burning of Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express at Godha railway station on on February 27, 2002 and the subsequent riots.

Vindicating Chief Minister Narendra Modi's stand on the Godhra carnage, the Nanavati Commission has said that the fire was not an accident and outsiders had started it by entering the ill-fated S-6 coach with petrol and a burning rag.

The findings have been challenged by those who have been gunning for Modi even as the BJP claimed moral victory.

The Congress was quick to charge Modi with party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi saying, "There appears to be an unholy haste to preemptively setup a commission within the state."

On the other hand BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "The drama enacted by Lalu Yadav constituting the justice Banerjee Commission just before the Bihar elections in 2005 has finally failed."

In 2004, soon after he became the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad had appointed the retired Supreme Court justice UC Banerjee to probe the burning incident at Godhra.

Banerjee Commission report submitted more than two years ago concluded the fire was accidental.

But now the findings of the two commissions are completely contradictory.

While Banerjee ruled out the involvement of outsiders and said that death was mostly due to suffocation, Nanavati said that the fire was started deliberately by outsiders who had entered the train and the victims burned to death.

"I have examined witnesses and the witnesses categorically stated there was no trace of petrol," said Banerjee while justifying his findings.

The big question being asked is why the commission report should be submitted in two parts especially when the role and conduct of government functionaries is more relevant in post-Godhra riots.

Criticism apart the Nanavati Commission report carries a greater degree of authority as it was set up in the immediate aftermath of the Gujarat riots while the Banerjee Commission was instituted in political hindsight.

But with two reports representing two polarised views, there will always be questions about which report to accept and believe.

Banerjee Commission report

  • Fire accidental
  • No outsiders involved
  • Death due to toxicity & suffocation
  • No crowd, just onlookers at railway station
  • Coaches were not locked

Nanavati Commission report

  • Fire deliberately set
  • Outsiders ignited fire
  • Death due to burning
  • Mob at railway station
  • Coaches locked from outside

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