Thursday, May 25, 2006

Interpol alert to arrest Godhra prime accused

Pramod Kr Singh | New Delhi
The Pioneer
May 26, 2006

Interpol has issued a red corner notice for the arrest of Salim Haji Ibrahim alias Salim Paanwala, the main accused in the Godhra train tragedy, in which 59 passengers were burnt alive on February 27, 2002.

Sources said that the red corner notice was issued after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) vetted material evidence furnished by the Gujarat Government and moved the Interpol to issue an alert for Paanwala's arrest.

Intelligence sources said Salim Paanwala is in Pakistan, which indicates that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may have a hand in the Godhra carnage.

The notice issued on April 11is a slap on the face of Justice UC Banerjee Committee. The committee - appointed by Union Railways Minister Lalu Prasad - had said in its report that the Godhra incident was an accident.

In sharp contrast to Justice Banerjee Report, the fact sheet ascribed in Interpol's notice reads, "On February, 2002, an attack occurred on Sabarmati Express which was travelling between Muzaffarpur to Ahmedabad. The attack on the coach no S-6 of the train was pre- meditated and resulted in serious injury to 46 passengers and death to 59 passengers. As the train pulled away from Godhra station where it had a scheduled stop, four chains were pulled in four different carriages, causing the train to stop.

"Investigations have revealed that during the time the train was stopped, the offenders, collected eight canisters of petrol from the nearby co-conspirator. Shortly afterwards, the four emergency chains were pulled again and the train halted. Investigations have revealed that pulling of the emergency chains was part of a plan. As soon as the train stopped, it was attacked by mobs outside, who pelted it with rods and broke windows and attacked it with arms and inflammable material."

The Bannerji Committee had hit the headlines for its accidental theory but the police . investigation found that Razak Kurkur and Salim Paanwala, residents of Godhra, had hatched a conspiracy to torch the compartment. They took the help of six young boys to cut the vestibule that joins S-6 and S-7, to pour the petrol into S-6. Two other boys helped them pull the chain near the A cabin, a little distance away from the Godhra platform. Maulvi Umerji, a resident of Signal Falia, was charge-sheeted for masterminding the offence by Gujarat Police.

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