Dear Conscientious Friend
I produce below one of the several investigative articles published in Washington Post and New York Times. This article is one version of what actually happened on Sabarmati Express at Godhra.
Though there are other versions, too. I found this one more credible. Plus somehow one gets an eerie feeling from the following reports, some of which are yet to be proved beyond the pale of doubt:
the kar sevaks did have stones and lathis collected inside the compartments
the train was running late so as to enable it to reach Godhra in the morning hours [the "elements" of trouble were present]
the origin of the second and major fire appears rather mysterious. [The concerned police officer considers it an accident]
there was a cylinder / presence of cooking gas in the ladies bogey [perhaps they were cooking on the train as is so common with group travelling. Also this explains why more ladies and children perished]
the kar sevaks were exposing themselves, raising provocative slogans,.dancing, bullying the Muslim passengers all through the journey. [It is alleged that even on 27th Feb itself a Hindi daily carried a report against their rowdism and at two railway stations formal complaints were registered.]
the actual trouble makers didn't seem to suffer and the innocents perished
the dead bodies were brought to Ahmedabad in a manner that was opposed by the Ahmedabad police commissioner [and now their ashes are going to be taken around the country!]
The Outlook [18th March] mentions that the exercise of collecting Muslims' addresses [hotels, hostels, residences..] was under way for long. [Mr. Keka Shastri, Gujarat VHP Chief, in a tape-recorded interview to Rediff.com confirmed that these lists were finalized on 28th morning.] Earlier the Muslim gangs and dons were systematically eliminated in "encounters", SIMI was banned [although Bajrang Dal deserved this more, strictly in terms of the provisions of law].
Coupled with the fact that the BJP was consistently losing its political stock in the north and also in Gujarat [won only Modi's seat, losing Vadodra and Mahuva]. And the fact that the Municipalities of the state were going to elections in a couple of months, also lends a possible sinister political dimension to the carnage.
Regardless of who did what, no one should have been allowed to take law in his hand, anywhere. Consider the cruelty of the administration that connived at this so called "retaliatory" carnage:
the Gujarat assembly did not think it fit to pass a separate resolution mourning the massacre of Muslims, although a Balayogi and Godhra victims merited this honour
the condition at the relief camps in Ahmedabad is unspeakably bad, and compare it with the massive effort for the earthquake victims
the board exams have been postponed only in the two cities [where Hindu children were assigned to centres in Muslim areas]. Muslim children from far flung areas, residing in Ahmedabad relief camps, travelling long distances under threat of death, carrying fresh memories of the trauma, have still to appear [or miss] these exams.
while it has not bothered to spread govt schools in Muslim habitations, and while the wounds are so fresh on Muslim bodies, they are now debating, of all the things, on how to control the madrasas.
All in all the heat of Muslim hatred is on...
But these things are still in the realm of possibilities which an impartial body of judges can alone probe. But probe they must, for a wrong diagnosis can never produce a correct prescription.