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3-month extension for Godhra panel

Last updated on: May 26, 2005 14:18 IST

The Banerjee Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the Godhra train burning incident, was on Thursday given a three-month extension by the Union Cabinet.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad appointed the committee headed by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice U C Banerjee after the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance came to power.

It created a controversy for submitting an interim report in January that said the train blaze that killed 59 Kar Sevaks, which had triggered widespread communal riots in the State in 2002, was accidental.

The report, given prior to the polls in Bihar, had generated a big controversy as political parties used it in assembly election campaigning.

The Election Commission registered police cases against those who stuck posters blaming the Bharatiya Janata Party for the post-Godhra riots.

Nearly a thousand people, most of them belonging to minority community, were killed in riots that followed the Godhra train fire.

In the report, the Banerjee Committee said there was no scope for any miscreant activity from any external agency during the period.

It found it "unbelievable that Kar Sevaks (to the extent of 90 per cent of the total occupants) armed with trishuls, would allow to get themselves burnt without a murmur by miscreant activity like a person entering S-6 coach from outside and setting the coach on fire".

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