The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Laloo reopens Godhra files

New Delhi, June 15: Railway minister Laloo Prasad Yadav is all set to “reopen” the Godhra train burning case.

The probe will focus on three points uncovered after the minister opened the files, sources assisting Laloo Prasad said. “One is that the list of passengers was never disclosed although it was very easy to obtain it from the railway reservation chart.

“Second, only 14 families have so far claimed the compensation of Rs 4 lakh each. This has raised doubts about the state government’s claim that 59 people were killed.

“Third, the forensic and railway intelligence reports that the fire started from inside the coach (S6) on February 27, 2002, have been backed up by an Intelligence Bureau report,” a source said.

Fifty-nine people were believed to have died after a mob allegedly torched a train carrying kar sevaks. The carnage triggered the Gujarat riots. In the elections that followed, the Narendra Modi-led BJP returned to power with a thumping majority.

Questions have been raised in the past about the Godhra carnage. As early as July 2002, Mamata Banerjee, a partner in the NDA, questioned why the passenger list was not released and hinted at a cover-up.

Laloo Prasad took up the Godhra files immediately after assuming office. He has sought legal opinion from the law ministry as well as experts such as Kapil Sibal because the Godhra case is being tried in court. “If the railway has to join the trial, Laloo Prasad would ask these documents to be filed for the trial court and if the Supreme Court orders the transfer of the trial outside Gujarat, it would be more convenient,” an official said.

The NHRC has sought transfer of all riot cases out of Gujarat. “Laloo Prasad may file an affidavit in the Supreme Court detailing these reports and join the issue for transferring the trial outside Gujarat. During the trial, he would give the documents,” the official said.

“The minister may also release the reports to the media.”

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