The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Teenager talks of role in Godhra carnage

Ahmedabad, Aug. 28: A Hindu boy has provided a new twist to the Godhra train massacre, recounting before a magistrate his role in the carnage and giving a vivid description of how coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was burnt.

Ajay Baria, a 19-year-old helper of a Muslim tea vendor at Godhra station, made the confessional statement before a magistrate in Anand. He has been in hiding ever since his “voluntary” statement in July-end.

The youth has named Razzak Kurkur, a hotel owner in Signal Falia, as the one who provided the container of inflammable material that was used to set the compartment on fire from inside on February 27.

His statement does not mention the role of Mohammed Hussain Kalota, the former Godhra municipality president, or councillor Haji Bilal who police had declared the main conspirators. The police are clueless about the whereabouts of Kurkur, who is absconding.

“Baria is an important witness who was present at the time of the incident,” said J.K. Bhatt, superintendent of police (railway). “He has identified six main accused involved and was part of the group that torched the train. His statement is the best part of investigation carried out so far,” the police officer added.

The youth’s eight-page statement recorded in question-answer format is significant as he is one of the few Hindu residents of the Muslim-dominated Signal Falia, an area near the railway station, and knew the people of his neighbourhood.

Bhatt said the police would file supplementary charges after incorporating more details provided by the boy.

Baria’s confessional statement, available with some advocates in Godhra, says he reached the station at 7 that morning and collected a pot of tea from his employer, Mehboob Fofa, to serve to passengers.

When the Sabarmati Express arrived, he heard shouts of Jai Shri Ram.

A little later, he found that another vendor, Siddique Bakkar, had been beaten up by the kar sevaks. Some kar sevaks forced him, too, to chant Jai Shri Ram just as the train began to move.

The statement says the train came to a halt soon after. Baria then saw men coming in around a dozen auto-rickshaws from Signal Falia to the station and throwing stones at the train.

The boy saw other tea vendors — Saukat Lalu, Irfan Bhobha and Rafique Bhatuk — enter a building owned by Kurkur, who also owns Aman Guest House in Signal Falia.

Baria was asked to accompany the men. He says Bhatuk came out of the building with a can and handed it over to Bhobha who then gave it to him (Baria) to put in an auto-rickshaw.

A group of nine people, including the Hindu boy, then slit open the vestibule between coaches S-6 and S-7 and entered the train. They poured the inflammable liquid inside the compartment and set it on fire.

With Baria spilling the beans, it is now apparent that Kurkur, and not Kalota or Bilal, were the main conspirators.

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