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Godhra truth still elusive

February 27, 2007
Reportage: Sheela Bhatt

Was it an accident? Did it occur as the result of an altercation? Or, was it a dark, deep-rooted conspiracy that can never be brought to the light of day?

All that we know is that on February 27, 2002, the S-6 compartment of the Sabarmati Express was gutted at the Godhra railway station, resulting in the gruesome death of 59 people, mostly kar sevaks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The Supreme Court has stayed the trial of the Godhra case since 2004.

The fire triggered a tsunami of communal hatred in Gujarati society -- one of the bloodiest and most horrific riots in Independent India.

More than 1,000 people were killed in the orgy of violence. Dozens of women were raped and hapless children burnt alive.

Since then, the narrative of the national debate on secularism, dialogue between Hindus and Muslims and secular India's standing in world affairs has changed beyond recognition. The unspeakable acts of cruelty against the minority community, especially the violence that ripped apart the city of Ahmedabad and some parts of the tribal areas, have left behind wounds that will take a very long time to heal. If they heal at all.

Five years after the bloodshed in the prosperous state of otherwise amicable people, puts the spotlight back on the Godhra fire, and the Gujarat riots.

Today, we look at how the Godhra inquiry is progressing. Tomorrow, we look at why it was a conspiracy.
Design: Uday Kuckian
Photographs: Getty Images

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