It took Government of Gujarat only 10 hours to declare that the burning of S6 Coach of Sabarmati Express at Godhra on 27th February, 2002 was the result of a pre-planned conspiracy to kill karsevaks but it took them another full year to name the fuel that was used to “burn down” the Coach.
The first charge-sheet in the Godhra Train Burning case was filed by DySP KC Bawa, the first Investigating Officer, on 22nd May 2002 alleging that the S6 coach was burnt from outside by the use of some inflammable fluid (He did not specify whether the inflammable fluid was petrol, kerosene or diesel). Bawa relied upon the statements of nine important eye witnesses who claimed to have been standing near the “A” Cabin near which the S6 coach had burnt:
Five-six persons with carboys in their hands were sprinkling the fluid on one coach and they set it on fire and we kept standing at the side of A cabin.
Shri Talati, forensic officer from FSL in his report dated 26th April 2002, had found the presence of kerosene in these three carboys which were sent to him for examination!! Shri Ajaykumar Kanubhai Bariya, the star witness for the prosecution, who had allegedly ‘travelled’ with the accused in their rickshaw to carry the ‘inflammable’ fluid to burn the S6 coach had said:
I saw Rafique Bhatuk (one accused) came with the carbo and gave it to Irfan Bhopa (another accused) and he told me , ‘put this carboy in the rickshaw’. I kept that carboy in the rickshaw as I was very scared. The smell like kerosene was coming out from the carbo…
The first charge-sheet thus vaguely hints that the inflammable fluid was Kerosene and left it at that.
The second and third charge-sheet by Noel Parmar, the second Investigation officer dated 20th September 2002 and 19th December 2002 converted the kerosene into petrol…
After the exit of K C Bawa and the appointment of Noel Parmer as the next investigating Officer, the mode and manner in which the Coach was burnt was totally changed. It was alleged for the first time after 7 months that the accused had entered S6 coach with six carboys of petrol by cutting through the vestibule between S6 and S7 coach and poured 140 litres of petrol in the coach from the rear-side gallery of the S6 coach and got out through the door. The afore-mentioned six carboys were never to be found.
Why did Noel Parmar have to change the theory of burning from outside to inside? Because it was opined by the FSL that it is not possible to throw enough liquid fuel into the compartment from outside to be able to set the whole coach on fire as most of the fuel will be spilled.
Also the evidence of the 9 eye-witnesses who were relied upon by KC Bawa which claimed that the coach was burnt from outside were conveniently thrown out of the window, thus admitting that the first round of eye witnesses were fabricated.
It was later alleged that Maulana Umarji was the main conspirator (the alleged main conspirator was acquitted by the sessions court!) who on 26th February had directed at around 9-10.30pm that S6 coach should be burnt. The entire “Petrol” theory was extracted from one Binyamin Behras’s “confession u/s 164 on 5th February 2003, that is after about one year of the incident! However later on, Shri Binyamin Behra also retracted his statement and declared that his earlier statement was taken under third degree method.
The master stroke of Noel Parmar was his manipulation of the statements of two employees of the Kalabhai’s Petrol pump Shri Ranjitsinh J Patel and Shri Prabhatsinh G Patel. In their first testimony before the police on 10.4.2002, they had stated that they had not sold any loose petrol to anybody on 27th February 2002. However they changed their statement and in their new statement made after one year, the two employees stated u/s. 164 of CrPC recorded on 11.3.2003 and 12.3.2003 that they had sold 140 litres of Petrol to Salim Panwala (another main accused) on 26th February, 2002!
However, Ranjit Singh Patel, the key police witness in the Sabarmati train case, spilled his beans in a sting operation carried out by Tehelka and revealed that he was paid Rs. 50000/- to name Salim Panwala and two other accused at the behest of the Investigating Officer Shri Noel Parmer (The transcript of this sting operation is available at the bottom of the post). This admission by Ranjit Patel demolishes his second statement before the Police that he had sold 140 litres of Petrol to Salim. So where did the petrol come from?
In the mean time, a huge amount of material (370 kilos) from inside the S6 coach was collected on 1st May 2002 and sent for Forensic examination. The FSL report No. 2002/c/594 dated 17th May 2002 failed to report any detection of petrolfrom the burnt residues of the things inside the coach.
The only FSL report that had detected presence of residual petrol in samples collected was the first FSL report (No. FSL/EE/2002/c/287) dated 20th March 2002 prepared by D.B.Talati, Assistant Director of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) Ahmedabad. He had claimed the presence of residual petrol hydrocarbons in 25 samples, while the other 20 samples he had tested did not disclose the presence of any hydrocarbons. Shri Talati had informed the Commission that he had performed the Gas-liquid chromatography for the detection of residual petrol which he defined as the remains of petrol after it is burnt.
However, when cross-examined, Shri Talati admitted that he had not done any quantitative analysis of the ratios between the higher and lower volatile components of the hydrocarbons of the samples he had examined. Without a quantitative analysis, it’s not possible to ascertain that the petrol that has been detected is unburnt petrol or burnt petrol residue!
On behalf of Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), a quantitative analysis was carried out by experts from the chromatographs supplied by Shri Talati. The results of analysis1proved that Shri Talati actually detected unburnt petrol in the samples instead of burnt residual petrol which is contrary to what he had claimed in his FSL report. It may now be pertinent to ask, did some one mix unburnt petrol in the samples obtained from S6 coach to fabricate the presence of petrol?
Further, in his report, FSL/EE/2002/c/442, dated 26th April 2002, Shri D.B.Talati stated that he could not give a clear opinion whether the petrol detected in some samples in and around S6 and the petrol detected in the samples from Kalabhai’s petrol pump were same or not!
It is clearly seen that first 9 witnesses were fabricated to make a case of burning from outside the coach using kerosene. Since that did not stand the scrutiny of FSL, the story was conveniently changed to show that coach was burnt from inside using 140 litres of petrol. However their star witness, Ranjit Singh Patel, who had stated that he had sold petrol to Salim Panawala, got caught in a Tehelka string operation and admitted that he had taken Rs 50000 to give a false statement. Another witness, Binyamin Behera also retracted his statement based on which the entire Petrol theory was founded. Mr Talati failed to do a quantitative analysis of the gas chromatograph to find out whether he found burnt residual petrol or raw liquid petrol – and JSM’s analysis proved that he’d found unburnt petrol instead of burnt residual petrol.
All these evidences and observations prove that the Gujarat Government’s claim that the S6 Coach was burnt by pouring petrol inside the coach is absolutely concocted and experts need to review the evidence in this regards.
Transcript of the Tehelka string operation of Ranjit Singh Patel
Q. Do you remember the names who has to be named?
A. One of them is Salem paanwaala…another is Salim Darza..one is..he is…I actually do not know his name..but he is called Bhatt by everybody..I know three person’s names but I could not know the names of the other two…I have recognized them from behind in the recognition parade.
Q. You used to see them in Godhra.
A. Yes I used to see them.
Q. Because when it will be your turn to recognize in the court, it would have been a long time since you’ve seen them.
A. No Noel Parmar Sahab had told me that before the court he would show them to me because I would have forgotten…first they will be shown to me then they will be shown in the court….Noel Saahab had told us that I had to say this..I told him that I don’t recognize him so how can I say that..then Sahab showed us the photograph and sent me to see him that this is the same man..I am interested in cause of Hindutva.
Q. You got 2 lakhs?
A. No I did not get
Q. They didn’t give?
A. I did not get two
Q. Did they give you close to one…
A. No I was given Fifty
Q. You got fifty?
A. I got Fifty..