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Godhra victims allege BJP 'pressure'
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai | October 05, 2003 23:28 IST
In an embarrassing development for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat, some relatives of the Godhra train carnage on Sunday alleged being 'pressurised' by party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers.
They also demanded shifting of the Nanavati Commission of inquiry outside the state, as they had 'no faith' in the Narendra Modi government.
Addressing mediapersons in Mumbai, the relatives, under the aegis of city based NGO -- Citizens for Justice and Peace -- alleged that BJP and VHP had 'used' them for political gains and said they felt abandoned.
"The BJP had taken our family members to Ayodhya and assured of bringing them back safely. Why were they sent back without none of the BJP members accompanying them?" asked 82-year-old Dr Girish Rawal, whose wife Sudha was killed in the carnage and son Ashwin was stabbed in post-Godhra violence.
Asked if he felt that the Muslims were involved in the burning of the coach S-6, Dr Rawal said, "We cannot say that who was involved. We don't want to blame a particular community for that incident. We can only say that anti-social elements have done this act. They did this to disturb the peace of Gujarat."
After the death of his wife, he lost his son Ashwin Rawal in the riots that followed the tragedy. Ashwin was a local Bajrang Dal president.
"I just want to appeal to everyone. Forget about the past and let all of us live in peace in this country. I don't want to blame any particular community for the death of my wife and my child. I just want to say that anti-social elements are involved in these incidents and they have got nothing to do with their religion. Their only aim is to disturb peace in our country," said Dr Rawal.
Sharad Mhatre, whose wife Malabehn too died, said, "When I look back at the horrific incident, I feel that not a single VHP leader died in the incident. They had booked their train tickets from Ayodhya two days later. What was the reason to do so? I still don't understand."
Prakash Chodagar who lost his wife Nilimabeh said, "The VHP and the BJP have amassed crores of rupees in our name. We have not got more than Rs 200,000 after we lost our family members. There is nobody to question them in Gujarat. They have cheated all of us in the name of religion and made money over the dead bodies of our loved ones."
The grieving family members also complained that none of them was given adequate time to appear before the Nanavati commission, which is inquiring into the Godhra tragedy and the riots that followed later.
"We are being told by the VHP leaders on what to say and what not to say in front of the Justice Nanavati commission. This is unacceptable to us. We are therefore demanding that Godhra inquiry and also other inquiries like the Naroda Pattiya and Gulberg massacres should be conducted outside Gujarat," said Bharatbhai.
They also appealed to all Indians not to participate in the forthcoming Ayodhya yatra of the VHP.
The Gujarat Riots: The Complete Coverage