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Godhra Verdict: Guj Govt Says Stand Vindicated

Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Feb 22: Gujarat government today said the Godhra carnage verdict vindicated its stand that the train attack was a "pre-planned conspiracy" while the BJP alleged it had exposed the "nefarious designs" of the
PTI February 22, 2011 20:29 IST
PTI
Ahmedabad/New Delhi, Feb 22: Gujarat government today said the Godhra carnage verdict vindicated its stand that the train attack was a "pre-planned conspiracy" while the BJP alleged it had exposed the "nefarious designs" of the UPA regime.

Congress and the Left declined to comment on the verdict by a Special Court saying they would like to first study the judgement. But the Congress took the opportunity to again pin the blame on Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi for the post-Godhra communal riots that left over 1,200 people dead.

The Union Government reacted cautiously to the verdict on the Godhra train burning case in 2002 in which 59 Kar Sewaks were killed, saying the law will take its own course.

Gujarat government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said the judgement has established that the attack was a "pre-planned conspiracy hatched and executed with finesse."

"So the state government's stand is vindicated," Vyas told reporters in Ahmedabad.

"The judgement today sets at naught all the wrong propaganda of the so called NGOs that Godhra train burning incident was not a pre-planned conspiracy," he said.

Vyas said that the government will decide on its future course of action after studying the judgement.

"The judgement has just been delivered. We are yet to get full text of the judgement, we shall study the judgement first and then further reaction will follow," he said.

Vyas, also the state Health Minister, said the question of compensation to those acquitted by the court does not arise.

BJP spokesperson Tarun Vijay alleged the judgement has exposed the "nefarious designs" of the UPA government, accusing it of trying to cover up the "entire ghastly episode."

Alleging that the UPA Government tried to put the blame on the victims themselves, he said, "But we welcome that culprits have been given punishments."

"It has exposed the so-called secularists including Lalu, UPA government which had set up a fake inquiry under a retired SC judge, which put the blame on victims themselves. This verdict has to be welcomed initially," he said.

BJP spokesman Ravishankar Prasad said "Certainly, there has been a degree of assurance that law and justice has prevailed. There were elements who were trying to belittle it. There have been politicians who tried to abuse it."

He slammed the Justice U C Banerjee Committee report, which found that the fire was lit from inside the coach.

The Banerjee Committee, appointed by then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to probe the causes of fire in the Sabarmati Express in Godhra, had found that the fire was "accidental."

"You remember the Banerjee commission report. A retired judge of Supreme Court gave a collusive report that the fire was lit from inside," Prasad said.

Asked about the acquittal of one of the prime accused Maulana Umraji, Prasad said, "Conspiracy has been established."

Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said the courts of law will take their own course. "There are processes involved because definitely there will be an appeal filed in the High Court. Therefore, it is premature to comment on this," he said.

Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said "We are not aware of the content of the judgment...First we have to study the judgement,"

Natarajan however said the communal violence that followed the train carnage was a "blot on democracy".

"In political sense, whatever the judgement with regard to Godhra incident, the communal violence that erupted in Gujarat (post the train carnage) remained a blot on democracy...It is a blot on the record of Narendra Modi for which he will always have to answer the people of the nation," she said.

Reacting to BJP's claim that the judgement vindicated the party's stand that the train was set on fire from outside, Natarajan said, "It still does not take away the fact that Modi and his government were single handedly responsible for the riots that took place post the train carnage."

CPI-M leader Siaram Yechury while refusing to react to the verdict, said the matter could go up to the higher courts.

Home Minister P Chidambaram said he would not like to say anything on the issue before going through the judgement.

Minorities Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid it was important to understand the "reasoning" behind the judgement.

"How can we say the verdict is good or bad without understanding the reasoning," he said.

He, however, added that the series of events surrounding the incident have often raised question marks on the level of confidence in the state government.

"Only time will tell whether the verdict will help increase the level of confidence," he said. PTI