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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

CJI Chandrachud led SC bench grants bail to Godhra carnage convict

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted bail to a convict serving life imprisonment in the barbaric 2002 Godhra carnage, whose appeal against his conviction has been festering in the apex court since 2018.

As per the ruling of the bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha, bail was granted to the convict, identified only as Faruk in media reports, as he has been in jail for around 17 years and his role (pelting stones to ensure Hindu pilgrims in coach S6 could not escape the fire lit by other conspirators) in the horrific crime was apparently deemed ‘less serious’.

The appeals against the conviction of several convicts – including Faruk – in the 2002 Sabarmati Express coach S6 burning that took place at Godhra station, are pending adjudication in the apex court since 2018.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Gujarat government, said it was the most heinous offence in which 59 people, including women and children, were burnt alive and there was a need to expedite final hearings on the appeals of the convicts.

He added that the case was not ‘mere stone-pelting’ by the convicts, as their acts prevented people from escaping the burning train coach whose doors had been bolted; moreover, stones were also thrown at fire tenders to prevent them from dousing the fire.

“He (Faruk) instigated the others, pelted stones and injured the passengers. Under normal circumstances, pelting of stones may be a less grave of an offence. But this is different,” Mehta told the court.

CJI DY Chandrachud narrated the bail order and stated– “In the facts of the case, the application of bail made by Faruk, accused no. 4, is granted. The applicant was convicted of offences punishable under Section 302 IPC and sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life. The High Court dismissed his appeal on 9th October 2017. The applicant has sought bail on the ground that he has been in custody since 2004 and has undergone imprisonment for about 17 years. In view of the facts and circumstances of the case and the role attributed to the applicant, we direct the applicant to be granted bail subject to such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Sessions Court.”

Seeking final hearing in the case, SG Mehta said, “This is one of the most heinous offences. 59 people burnt alive by halting the door of the bogey. The matter is ripe for final hearing. Now your lordships have special benches for timed hearings as well. This can be listed as one of the matters.”

To this, the CJI replied – “Mr. SG, you can do this, you can ask your junior to prepare a little statement of the appeals of the groups and just give it to the registrar, Mr Puneet Sehgal. I will examine, place it appropriately.”

Looking at the list of convicts in the Godhra train carnage, it appears that the full name of the convict who was granted bail by SC is Faruk (Farooq) Ghazi. Another Farooq involved in this crime, mastermind Farooq Bhana (former corporator and district Congress secretary), was arrested only in 2016. Bhana had managed to evade capture by initially fleeing to Pakistan and later moving with Tablighi Jamaat congregations.

On May 13, SC had granted one of the convicts, Abdul Raheman Dhantiya @ Kankatto @Jamburo, interim bail for six months on the ground that his wife was suffering from ‘terminal cancer’ and that his daughters were ‘mentally challenged’. On November 11, the SC extended his bail till March 31, 2023.

Godhra carnage

On February 27, 2002, a 1000-strong Islamist mob had set fire to coach S-6 of Sabarmati express as part of a pre-planned conspiracy under the alleged influence of fundamentalist Islamic outfit Tablighi Jamaat. It resulted in the horrific deaths of 59 Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya, including 27 women and 10 children.

The passengers were terrorized by beating them and pelting of stones and were prevented from coming out from the burning compartment, provocative slogans were shouted from the loudspeaker from a nearby mosque (“Pakistan Zindabad”, “Hindustan Murdabad” and “Hindu Kafiro ko Jala dalo”, i.e. burn the Hindu unbelievers) to arouse passions in the violent mob. Fire tankers were prevented from going near the place of the incident.

This incident triggered communal riots across Gujarat, claiming over 1000 lives, including around 250 Hindus.

In March 2011, the trial court had convicted 31 persons , of whom 11 were sentenced to death and the remaining 20 awarded life in prison. 63 other accused were acquitted. In 2017, the Gujarat High Court commuted the death sentence of 11 to life-term and upheld the life sentence awarded to the other 20. The appeals filed by the convicts in the Supreme Court are pending since 2018.

In August 2018, an SIT court convicted Farooq Bhana and Imran Sheru and awarded them life sentence, taking total number of convictions in the case to 33. Another prime accused Rafiq Hussain Bhatuk was arrested last year. At least three accused– Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdulmajid Yousuf Mitha–still remain at large in this case and are to have fled to Pakistan.

Yet, to this day, secular-liberal elites like Prem Shankar Jha and Siddarth Varadarajan peddle fake narratives via propaganda outlets like The Wire that the fire was an ‘inside job’ to implicate Muslims or an accident. Notorious Hindu-hating comics like Munawar Faruqui who crack jokes on this painful episode of our country’s past are given bail by SC and police protection by secularist governments.

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  1. Were it not so tragic, the kind of “alternative theories” peddled (about the origin of the fire) by leftist media would actually be funny. One theory floated around was that a tea making stove overturned, and its gas caused the entire bogey to catch fire! Well, it takes about 50 liters of petrol to make an entire bogey catch fire so fully. I wonder what small tea stove has 50 liter petrol capacity!!

    Btw, this Faruq and his accomplices had purchased about 50liters of petrol the previous day, this is known by investigation. I wonder what they were going to use that 50 liter for? To make tea, perhaps?


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