The 20th anniversary of the Godhra tragedy, in which 58 Hindu pilgrims were burnt alive in a train, will be observed on 27 February. Do we recall the carnage? Yes, we remember the Gujarat riots of 2002. Yes, we remember the killing of Muslims in Gujarat; and yes, we are constantly reminded of a Muslim ‘genocide’ that happened in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was chief minister. This one-sided narrative is readily available where Modi stands accused despite a clean chit being given by the Supreme Court. This narrative of a Muslim ‘pogrom’ thrives despite the fact that of the 1,044 people killed in the post-Godhra Gujarat violence, 254 were Hindus.
Today, when we look at the 2002 violence, Godhra finds itself barely confined to the footnotes. The Bilkis Bano case was widely publicised, which no doubt was horrendous, but the silence over 20 children and 27 women burnt alive in the train was equally abhorrent. The issue is, why we don’t seem to care for the 58 people who were burnt alive in Godhra. Why do we treat them as nowhere people? There isn’t a single name associated with those victims on the Internet. Why none of the media outlets tried to find out and publish their names? Who were these 58 people?
In February 2002, thousands of Ram bhakts (karsevak) travelled from Gujarat to Ayodhya to partake in the Purnahuti Mahayagna at the Sri Ram Janmabhoomi. On 25 February, hundreds of them boarded the Sabarmati Express bound for Ahmedabad, along with other passengers. Two days later, on 27 February, at 7:43 am, the train arrived at Godhra. As the train proceeded to depart the station, someone pressed the emergency brake, and the train came to a standstill at the Signal Falia, a Muslim slum neighbourhood. The train was stopped by numerous chain pulls from within, as reported by the driver and afterwards confirmed by the locomotive’s equipment.
As per reports, a crowd of 2,000 gathered as the train came to a halt. Following stone-throwing, four railway coaches were set ablaze, trapping several passengers inside. The fire killed 58 people, including 27 women and 10 children, and wounded 48 others. “Miscreants had prepared the petrol-soaked rags for use long before the train arrived in Godhra,” said J Mahapatra, Assistant Director General of Gujarat Police.
Following this, the state saw violence across the state. But when one looks at the media portrayal, it seemed to make us believe that, first, the state-wide violence happened in a vacuum; and, second, the victims were Muslims alone. Both of them are well-orchestrated lies. For, Gujarat burnt in 2002 because of the Godhra blaze. And that a fourth of the victims of the so-called genocide were Hindus. Still the Left-dictated media wants to remember 2002 as “Muslim Genocide”, “Ethnic Cleansing”, “State Terrorism”, “Pogrom”, and so on.
The more pressing concern is, why the identities of the victims of the train disaster were never made public by the media. Was it because there was a concerted attempt to portray the aftermath as Muslim 'genocide'! We have managed to obtain 41 names of those killed on the train. We are trying to locate the other 17 identities.
Following are the victims of S-6, Sabarmati Express, on 27 February, 2002:
1. Nilimaben Prakashbhai Chaudagar, Ramol, Amdavad
2. Jyotiben Bharatbhai Panchal, Maninagar, Amdavad
3. Premaben Naranbhai Dabhi,Gita Mandir, Amdavad
4. Jiviben Parambhai Dabhi,Gita Mandir, Amdavad
5. Devkalaben Hariprasad Joshi,Chandlodiya, Amdavad
6. Zaverbhai Jadavbhai Prajapati,Vastral Amdavad
7. Mittalben Bharatbhai Prajapati, Maninagar, Amdavad
8. Nitaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad
9. Harshadbhai Hargovindbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad
10. Pratikshaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad
11. Niruben Navinchandra Brahmbhatt, Sanket society, Vadnagar
12. Chayaben Harshadbhai Panchal, New Ranip, Amdavad
13. Chiragbhai Ishwarbhai Patel, Vaghodiya, Vadodara
14. Sudhaben Girishchandra Rawal, Chandlodiya, Amdavad
15. Malaben Sharadbhai Mhatre, Ambavadi, Amdavad
16. Arvindaben Kantilal Shukla, Ramol, Amdavad
17. Umakant Govindbhai Makwana, Nava Naroda, Amdavad
18. Sadashiv Vithalbhai Jadhav, Sureliya Estate road, Amdavad
19. Maniben Dahyabhai Dave, Nava Naroda, Amdavad
20. Jesalkumar Manshukhbhai Soni, Vastral, Amdavad
21. Manshukhbhai Kanjibhai Soni, Vastral, Amdavad
22. Ratiben Shivpati Prasad, Municipal quarters, Vijay mills, Naroda, Amdavad
23. Jamnaprashad Ramashray Tiwari, Municipal quarters, Vijay mills, Naroda, Amdavad
24.Satish Ramanlal Vyas, Odhav, Amdavad
25. Shantaben Jashbhai Patel, Roon, Anand
26. Indiraben Banshibhai Patel, Roon, Anand
27. Rajeshbhai Sardarji Vaghela, Khokhra, Ahdavad
28. Shilaben Mafatbhai Patel, Roon, Anand
29. Manjulaben Kirtibhai Patel, Roon, Anand
30. Champaben Manubhai Patel, Roon, Anand
31. Diwaliben Raojibhai Patel, Matar, KHeda
32.Lalitaben Karansibhai Patel, Kadi, Mehsana
33. Manguben Hirjibhai Patel, Kadi, Mehsana
34. Prahladbhai Jayantbhai Patel, Ambika township, Patan
35. Bhimjibhai Karsanbhai Patel, Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha
36. Lakhubhai Hirajibhai Patel, Kubhadharol Kampa, Vadali, Sabarkantha
37. Vithalbhai Parshottambhai Patel, Dungerji ni Chali, Khokhra, Amdavad
38. Shailesh Ranchodbhai Panchal, Sankalp Park Society, Surendranagar
39. Amrutbhai Joitaram Patel, Gamanpura, Mehsana
40. Narendra Narayanbhai Patel, Vanpardi, Mandal, Amdavad
41. Ramanbhai Gangarambhai Patel, Nugar, Mehsana
As we near the 20th anniversary of the Godhra tragedy, we need to at least get the record straight on 2002. We need to set the narrative right: To stop highlighting the plight of one community while brushing inside the carpet the killings of another. A fresh beginning can be made by making public the names of the 58 people killed in Godhra and creating a memorial in their memory.
The writer is research scholar, Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, Surat. Views expressed are personal.