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When justice is derailed where should Godhra victims go?

When justice is derailed where should Godhra victims go?

Authors: News
Publication: The Daily Pioneer
Date: March 7, 2006

Probe Banerjee's conduct, demands JD(U) ---- Jessica Lall was denied justice because the eyewitnesses turned hostile. The 59 passengers who were roasted alive in the Sabarmati Express fire in Godhra have been denied justice for just the opposite reason. The man probing the fire has preferred to close his eyes and ears to the tragic tales of those who escaped the inferno while seeing their near and dear ones being consumed by the leaping flames.

Jessica may yet get justice, because the nation has not forgiven her killers. In the wake of media uproar, people's protest and judicial intervention there are hopes that those who snuffed out her life, may yet be brought to book. No one loses political ground tracking her killers, so no harm in crying foul.

Amidst the furore in Parliament over Justice Banerjee's report on the Godhra train fire, the Janata Dal (U) has questioned the role of the committee and sought a probe into the conduct of Justice Banerjee. The party has gone as far as demanding his prosecution for churning out politically motivated findings and overlooking eyewitnesses' accounts.

Incidentally, the findings of the Banerjee report are in complete contradiction to the preliminary report filed by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on the incident. when Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was the railway minister.

"I've no doubt that Railway Minister Lalu Prasad who appointed Justice Banerjee is the author of this report. Lalu Prasad is rattled by the Nitish Government's decision to appoint a judicial commission to expose the RJD Government's conspiracy to suppress cases against culprits of the Bhagalpur riots," said Bihar JD (U) president and senior party MP Rajiv Ranjan Singh 'Lalan'.

Mr Singh describes the Banerjee Commission report as a pack of lies and has claimed that Justice Banerjee overlooked witnesses who saw the burning of the train and the killers. "The JD (U) demands a fresh probe to go into the findings of the Banerjee Committee and seeks his prosecution for suppressing evidences," said Mr Singh.

"Lalu Prasad has lost all his support among the Muslims. Nitish Kumar's decision to order fencing of all graveyards and disputed ones on a priority basis has sent a very assuring message among the people of the minority community in Bihar. Lalu Prasad feels threatened as such steps coupled with the probe into the Bhagalpur riots would completely isolate him among the Muslims. The latest trick is only to communalise politics," Mr Singh added.

"When the Bihar elections were announced, Justice Banerjee came out with an interim report on the incident and now when five States are going in for Assembly elections, the final report of the committee has been published," he said.

With the Left and Samajwadi Party twisting the Bush visit to project the Congress as a "traitor" of Muslims in the run-up to the Assembly polls, the other claimants of the minority votes could not have been expected to watch the drama from the sidelines. In came Justice UC Banerjee, with his preposterous findings that an accident had set ablaze the ill-fated coach of the Sabarmati Express.

Though he has not said so in so many words, if Justice Banerjee is to be believed, as many as 59 passengers committed mass suicide by refusing to escape from the burning train.

The report has not come as a surprise, because Justice Banerjee reached the same bewildering conclusion in his interim report bang in the middle of the Bihar Assembly poll last March, giving Railway Minister Lalu Prasad a readymade electoral plank to woo the minorities.

The timing gives away the hideous design. The Congress is uncomfortably placed between the increasingly belligerent Left and Samajwadi Party on the one side and a minority community on the other side, suspiciously veiwing the red carpet welcome the UPA Government gave to US President George Bush, a man seen by many as "Enemy No 1 of Islam". Timely enough, the Lalu-appointed committee has given the Congress something to distract the attention of the Muslims.

The report says nothing new, and despite a Gujarat High Court interim order restraining the Banerjee panel from making its findings public, the media was briefed in detail both by Mr Banerjee and the Railway Board officials about its contents.

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