| Jaitley: Crying foul
New Delhi, Sept. 3: The BJP has accused the Centre of setting the terms of reference of the high-level committee to probe the Godhra train carnage in such a way that it will “shield” the culprits and frame “innocent” Ram sevaks aboard the Sabarmati Express.
Fifty-nine people died when the S-6 coach of the train was burned at Godhra station on February 27, 2002, triggering the country’s worst communal riots in recent times.
Briefing the press today, BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley said term C of the committee was “loaded to help those who were responsible for the incident”.
“It is a loaded term intended to exonerate the real culprits and put blame on the victims of the tragedy. It is apparent that the likes of (railway minister) Laloo Prasad (Yadav) were suggesting it but that such a suggestion should acquire the stamp of the Prime Minister’s council of ministers is a threat to the rule of law,” he added.
Term C is meant to probe why the S-6 coach was overcrowded, with many passengers travelling without reservation, and whether their actions contributed to the fire.
“It is clear that the central government will stand by those who commit such offences. This being the clear motive behind the inquiry, we wonder if all the facts will be brought to the notice of the retired judge (heading the committee),” Jaitley said.
Stating that Manmohan Singh could not “escape responsibility for the wording of the terms of reference”, the former Union law minister said he had misgivings over the panel for another reason.
“When you have a commission of inquiry under the act, what is the need for a parallel inquiry' If the Centre has conflicting evidence, let it have the courage to place it before a court of law,” he added.
The BJP spokesman said the terms of reference ignored the “facts” that the Gujarat police investigation had revealed. Their probe said the accused had met twice in a Godhra guesthouse the day before the carnage. Two Godhra petrol pumps from which 160 litres of petrol were bought have been identified.
“The persons responsible for the crime have been identified. They are on trial. Their feeble defence is that the fire started from inside the coach and therefore the kar sevaks are responsible for the fire,” Jaitley said.