Forensic lab gave ‘clinching evidence’ in Godhra case

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

AHMEDABAD - Clinching evidence in the 2002 Godhra train burning case came from Gandhinagar’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), lawyers said Wednesday after a fast track court here convicted 31 people and acquitted 63 in the case.

FSL played a key role in the investigation and trial of the case, the lawyers said.

According to defence lawyer A.A. Hassan, for the conviction the court relied on the FSL report to accept the theory of pre-planned conspiracy.

“The court has accepted the theory that the fire was not accidental and that entry into the coach was made by cutting the vestibule and then petrol was poured inside and it was set on fire,” he said.

Special Public Prosecutor J.M. Panchal said Tuesday the clinching evidence for the conviction came from the FSL report, eyewitnesses and circumstantial evidence.

At least 59 people were burnt to death Feb 27, 2002 on board the Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station, an incident that sparked communal frenzy in Gujarat.

The FSL, after detailed investigation, had concluded that the burning of the S-6 coach of the train was by using petrol. The FSL also stated that the culprits entered the coach through a sliding door of the coach.

As per police investigations, the fire broke out after the accused had cut a vestibule between two coaches (S-6 and S-7) and entered from there whereas another group poured petrol inside the coach and set it on fire.

This was challenged by lawyers of the accused in the court as well as before the Justices (retired) Nanavati-Mehta probe panel. This panel ruled that the incident was a pre-planned conspiracy.

Another inquiry commission of Justice U.C. Benerjee, which was formed by the Indian Railways, had concluded that the incident was “accidental”.

To examine the pattern of burning, FSL reconstructed the scene by pouring liquid from outside, inside and passage of the coach.

Its examination also showed the presence of hydrocarbons of petrol in the S-6 coach. The two containers found from the track also had petrol inside. According to the prosecution, the accused had brought the petrol in a small truck to the Godhra railway station and then poured it in the coach.

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