[India / Gujarat]
I am an independent documentary filmmaker based in New Delhi. Recently I made an investigative documentary on Godhra trainburning. Godhra Tak: The terror trail is the name and is the first one of its kind because nothing exclusive is available on Godhra train incident on video.On 27 Feb 2002 a bogey full of karsevaks were burnt at Godhra railway station and later the incident was used to create riots in Gujarat in which 3500 Muslim were killed. In this documentary we tried to follow the entire route of the first batch of karsevaks from Gujarat to Ayodhya and back. We documented the terror unleashed by the Karsevaks on their route and the incidents at Godhra railway station on 27 Feb 2002. With the help of a lawyer Mr Mukul Sinha who is appearing in the Godhra inquiry commission constituted by the Gujarat government and Dr. V. N. Shegal former director Central Forensic Science Laboratory and member Interpol we tried to find out the merits of the conspiracy theory given by the prosecution and VHP alike. This one-hour film is a balanced one and gives representation tothe views of the both sides. We interviewed Praven Bhai Togadia (International General Secretary, VHP), Vinay Katiyar ( UP BJPpresident) and Dr. Jaydeep Patel (General Secretary, VHP Gujarat) and Karsevaks to give their version of the incident. We also interviewed passengers who actually booked their tickets in S6 and victims of violence by Karsevaks from various places.This film [has] much exclusive stuff and can be used tocounter the communal propaganda.-- Shubhradeep Chakravorty (23 July 2003)
Commentary / Filmscript
Godhra Tak: The Terror Trail
A documentary film by Shubhradeep Chakravorty [July 2003]
Interview -Togadia says Godhra was preplanned.
Visuals of burning train etc.
Voice Over- It is only a tall claim. In fact a year after the event,
there is still no conclusive evidence how Coach S6 of the Sabarmati
Express caught fire at Godhra in Gujarat on 27 February 2002. Fifty-nine
Hindu activists or kar sevaks, died in that fire. Over 3,500 Muslims were
killed in the riots that followed. The Godhra incident was not only
used successfully in the riots but in the December assembly elections too.
Interview -Jaydeep Patel, General Secretary, VHP Gujarat, says in the
elections we used it.
Visuals of Rath Yatra.
Voice Over- Marginalised in Indian politics in the 1980s by a
resurgence of backward castes, the BJP turned to religious mobilization to
regain its political ground. The Ram Janmabhoomi movement was born. Then
party president Lal Krishan Advani began a Rath Yatra from Somnath in
Gujarat, mobilising Hindus to wipe out the shame of Muslim conquest,
represented by the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya. So religious polarization based
on hate and perceived threat began.
Interview -Togadia says that it is a question of civilizations.
Visuals of destruction of Babri Mosques.
Voice Over-The Peak of this movement came on 6 December 1992 when
mosque fell to the kar sevaks. Later BJP capture power at the center in late
nineties with the promise of building Ram temple at Ayodhya. The
promise is still un fulfilled. The hype created by the destruction is dying
so is the movement. The Sangh is desperate because death of this
movement means defeat to their larger desine to dominate the world.
Interview-Vinay Katiyar, UP BJP president, says Mecca is also our and
Hindu religion will be world conqueror.
Visuals of Karsevaks in Gujarat and Ayodhya and a speech in Ayodhya.
Voice Over-Elections were expected in Gujarat in 2002. The need to
raise the emotions was immediate. Sangh Parivar started reviving Ram
temple movement. The kar sevaks were mobilized once again, now in the name
of Pruna Ahuthi Yagna at Ayodhya. Batches of Karsevaks started moving
to Ayodhya from different part of the country. The first batch of kar
sevaks from Gujarat also moved to Ayodhya on 22 February.
Interviews-Two Karsevaks explains the date and importance of going to
Interview-Anjali Mody, Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu, on Karsevaks
in Ayodhya and their behaviour.
Visuals of Karsevakpuram etc.
Voice Over-This characteristic of theirs had always created problems in
the past. This time also when this first batch of Karsevaks from
Gujarat reached Rudauli station, just short of Ayodhya, they were at their
Interview=-Sheetla Singh, Editor, Jan Morcha Faizabad, narrates the
Interviews-Two Karsevaks deny it.
Visuals of Rudauli Railway station.
Vioce Over-They denied it, of course. But the Muslim residents of
Rudauli, a township having no communal past, had a different story to tell.
Without any major provocation or big class the kar sevaks started
violence at Rudauli station. Their main target was beard Muslim men and
burqa clad women. Children were also not speared.
Interviews-Rudauli victims speak.
Interviews-Denial by Katiyar and acceptance by a karsevak.
Interview-Sheetla Singh comments.
Visuals of two trains.
Voice Over-After two days in Ayodhya, this first batch of kar Sevaks
from Gujarat boarded the Sabarmati Express on 25 February, for their
journey home. The pilgrimage had not improved their behaviour, Passengers
boarding the train at Lucknow discovered.
Interviews-Passengers who booked their ticket in S6 and survived the
burning describe their experience with Karsevaks during the journey.
Interview-Sheetla Singh comments on the treatment of passengers by
Visuals of Godhra.
Voice Over-Godhra, an unknown town of Gujarat, has almost equal number
of Hindus and Muslims the town with a biter communal past but peace
prevailed here for last one decade.
Interview-Dr. Sujat Vali, social activist, Godhra, speaks about riot
less past ten years.
Visuals of Godhra and its railway station.
Voice Over-On that day the Sabarmati express halted at Godhra station,
a scuffle between karsevaks and vendors at platform number 1 and this
seemingly perpetual peace ended.
Interviews-Different people on the happening on the platform number 1.
Interview-Kamal Chenoy, Professor JNU who was a part of an independent
fact finding mission on Gujarat, on attempted abduction of Sophia.
Interview-Voice of Sophiaăs mother narrating the event.
Interview-Ilias, who was present there, on what happened at platform
Interview- Dr.Mukul Sinha on the sequence of the events on 27 Feb.
Visuals of Mukul while examining papers.
Voice over- Advocate Mr. Mukul Sinha is appearing in the Enquiry
Commission constituted by the Gujarat government on Godhra incident and its
aftermath. To help us in reconstructing the events on the fateful at
Godhra railway station, Mr. Sinha is quoting from statements of witnesses,
which were recorded by the commission and made public.
Interview-Mukul quotes RPF constable on stone throwing at platform
Interview-A passenger on second stone throwing and closing the doors
Interview-Mukul quotes RPF constable again on first stoppage of train
and second stone throwing.
Interview-Mukul quotes guard saying first chain pulling was done by the
Interview-Mukul on second stoppage of the train near cabin A. No one
Visuals of Sehgal inspecting at crime scene.
Voice Over-With this stoppage at cabin A the third and final part of
the story started. The coach S6 was burnt and 59 people were killed. No
one knows what exactly happened at cabin A and how coach S6 caught
fire. Mr. V N Sehgal, a distinguish forensic scientist and former director
of the Governmentăs Central Forensic Science Laboratory and member
Interpol, flew down to Godhra to help in unfolding the mystery. He examined
the burnt coach S6, the crime scene and the available evidences.
Interview-Sehgal describes the crime scene.
Interview-Sehgal on possible ways of reaching cabin A.
Interview-Mukul quotes RPF constable as saying that no crowed was there
near cabin A before the arrival of the train there.
Interview-A Karsevak says he saw a crowed running towards the train
when the train stopped.
Interview-Mukul quotes cabin man saying the crowed gathered slowly near
Interview-Sehgal says conclusively with the help of graphics that only
few people were near the train and majority of them were behind the
Visuals of Godhra town.
Voice over-So there is no evidence yet that there was a conspiracy to
set the train on fire and a mob had waited near Cabin A to ambush the
train. The railway man at Cabin A who saw the events from his vantage
point also said the same. The crowd collected along the tracks near the
cabin in small groups, gradually, many of them running along with the
train as it left the Godhra station at low speed. A Karsevak has also seen
this. In fact, the majority of people were standing behind the bushes
and due to the distance, was not in a position to do much except
watching the event and occasionally throwing stones at the train. A small
number of people were near the train. Even when the train stopped, the
kar sevaks too got down and threw stones at the local people. So, the
incident at cabin A was nothing else but a continuation of the happenings
on the platform number 1.
Interviews-Bismilah, Ilyas and Mina Bariya on stone throwing by
Karsevaks at cabin A.
Interview-Survivors on smoke.
Visuals of Sehgal while examining the compartment.
Voice Over- After examining the materials collected from burnt S6 coach
forensic experts are now certain that the fire was caused by petrol.
Survivors of Coach S6 say they did not at first notice the fire --- it
was the acrid smoke that first alerted them to the danger. Petrol is
highly combustible, but could it generate the black smoke that the people
in the compartment saw, was the problem.
Interview-Sehgal explaining the smoke.
Interview-The Karsevaks saying doors and windows were closed.
Interview-Sehgal says that when windows melted and broken and doors
were opened, fire increased with more supply of oxygen coming.
Interview-Sehgal says throwing petrol from outside is not possible.
Interview-Fire fighter from Godhra corroborated.
Interview-Sehgal says no fire on the tracks.
Visuals of Sehgal with the burned compartment.
Voice Over-The government said first inflammable material was thrown on
the coach from the outside. Mr. Sehgal found this just could not have
been the case. His opinion matches with the opinion of experts from
Forensic Science Laboratory, Ahmedabad. To locate the point from where the
fire actually originated, Mr. Sehgal again examined the coach for
Interview-Sehgal says the burning of vestibule also shows the fire was
Interview-Sehgal shows from were the fire started and explains the
Visuals of the burned compartment.
Voice Over-The doors, windows and vestibules of coach S6 were closed
when it caught fire. The Karsevaks and passengers of the coach themselves
admit that they closed them. According to the experts of Forensic
Science Laboratory, Ahmedabad, the petrol at least 60 liters should have
been on the floor near seat number 72 if this sort of damage is to happen.
How could it reach inside is the question. Initially, prosecution was
saying that the petrol was thrown from outside after windows were
broken. When the FSL report came and it was proved that no window facing the
crowed was broken open and petrol was not thrown from outside then the
prosecution changed their version to hold on their argument that there
was a conspiracy.
Interview-Prosecution lawyer J. M. Panchal gives his latest version.
Interview-Rejected by Sehgal.
Interview-Mukul says there is no eyewitness account to support this
Sehgal express the possibility that the petrol was already present
Visuals of Godhra town.
Voice Over-Although all the evidences are disproving the conspiracy
theory but the Sangh Parivar, in its desperation to justify the genocide
of Muslims in Gujarat in the name of a natural reaction to the
conspiracy by Islamic groups, is still steaking to it. Arbitrary arrests made by
the police in Godhra also show this.
Interview-Defence lawyer gives two examples of arbitrary arrests.
Interview-Mina, a Hindu resident staying near cabin A, and two accused
people speak on the manner of arrests.
Visuals of Baroda victimăs injuries.
Voice Over-When the Sabarmati Express, after leaving S5 and S6 coaches
at Godhra reached Baroda then again Karsevaks stabbed few Muslim on the
platform. It was in the continuation of their behaviour on rout.
Interviews-Two Baroda victim speak.
Visuals of Gujarat riots.
Voice Over-In Gujarat communal trouble started on 28 February and March
1 when VHP announced bandh in the state against killings in Godhra.
Then riots continued for months. Human rights groups have described the
violence in Gujarat as one-sided genocide of Muslim. The complicity of
the state has been alleged as police failed to control mobs in city
after city, in Muslim hamlets and villages in the tribal areas. Arson, mass
murders and gang rapes continued for days, and then weeks. Television
camera followed the mobs as they went about their gory business. The
Muslim community in Gujarat was petrified, silenced. Society in Gujarat
seemed to have polarized. Then the elections for the state assembly came
and the Bharatiya Janata Party swept to power in Gujarat, riding the
wave of hate.
Interview-Ghanshyam Shah, Professor JNU, on how it was used to get
Interview-John Dayal, political commentator, on Sangh Parivarăs
intention to repeating it.
Visuals of stone carving for Ram temple, VHP, RSS and shiladan.
Voice Over-The mobilisation of Karsevaks in the name of building Ram
temple at Ayodhya is going on. VHP and Bajrang Dal are recruiting people
and training and initiating them to the street level activism. They are
creating an army of hooligans to use it as a political bully to
threaten the minorities and pressurise the government of the day. They are
fine tuning this with the immediate aim of helping BJP in the coming
assembly and general elections but they have larger designs also. RSS, which
since 1920, is approaching step by step with determination and
motivation, is the real force behind them. Through its shakhas, RSS is
recruiting, training and indoctrinate the cadre. It deputes them to its mass
organization to run them. The real aim behind this entire exercise is to
establish Hindu Rastra, that is, a political dispensation based on cast
and superiority of Hindu religion and Ram temple movement is only one
step towards this direction. This movement has increased polarisation in
the society, minorities of every kind is facing the real threat,
democratic tradition of tolerance is ending, mobs are calling the shots and
fanatic forces are gaining ground. The Godhra incident was simply a
fallout of all this. Because the movement is on so is the danger of a
repeat of Godhra like incident anywhere anytime.
Retur to the South Asia Citizens Web