The Godhra Riots – Postscript: The Masterminds

The Godhra Riots

The Masterminds
Nicole Elfi
October 2014
: This is a postscript toThe Godhra Riots:Sifting Fact from Fiction, July 2013, by the same author.In May this year, the people of India chose their Prime Minister. Over twelve years, several inquiry commissions — the Tewatia Committee (2010), the Nanavati Commission (2008), the Special Investigation Team (2011) under the Supreme Court — cleared Narendra Modi of all charges of having masterminded or, at least, encouraged the Godhra riots.
Still, his detractors —politicians and ideology-driven activists in India, the US and Europe — have continued to label him “merchant of death”, “butcher”, “Nazi”, “fascist”,“murderer”, etc.Let us examine the facts and see whether they can point to the riot’s real mastermind.
On 27 February 2002, when a coach of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhyawent up in flames at Godhra railway station, a Congress member of the Godhra municipality, Haji Balal, led a mob and stopped the fire-fighting vehicle on itsway to the station. The fire crew reported that “he had been visiting the firestation at night for the past few days on the pretext of watching films ontelevision.” Haji Balal got the fire-fighting vehicles sabotaged beforehand: oneof the main vehicles had its clutch plates taken out a few days earlier; also removed was the nut connecting the pipe with the water tank on the other engine.
Haji Balal who, according to locals, proudly proclaimed himself the “Bin Laden of Godhra”, is among eleven people convicted for criminal conspiracy 
The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 2 and murder and sentenced to death by a special fast track court in the high-security Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad on 22 February 2011.
Other Congress members were also “booked for the carnage”.
The attack on the pilgrims was carried out “according to what was planned earlier under the directions of [the late] Maulvi Umarji”,
a religious leader of the Ghanchi Muslims of Godhra.
“All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy,” concluded the Nanavati Report. “The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and destabilise the Administration.”
“Destabilise the Administration”: Narendra Modi had assumed office as Gujarat Chief Minister on 7 October 2001, four months earlier. Incidentally,Maulvi Umarji got a ticket to campaign for the Congress in December 2002 state election in Gujarat.In order to quickly gather a crowd of angry Muslims to the Godhrastation and attack the train, so that no one would guess who was pouring petrolin the S6 and S7 coaches, rumours that a Ghanchi Muslim girl had beenabducted by the Kar Sevaks were spread by the Jamiat-Ulema-E-Hind (JUH), along-standing ally of the Congress.
From the start of the crisis, Narendra Modi appealed to the people toremain calm and exert self-control. On five occasions between 27 and 28 February, “CM addressed Media, Assembly and General public and everywhere the genesis and intention was one and the same, to punish the culprits responsible for the Godhra incident in an exemplary manner, so that itdid not recur ever again.”
He announced aex-gratia payment of 200,000 rupees tthe next of kin othose killed in the Godhra incident and ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.
10 On 1st March, less than two days after the tragedy and while riots wereraging, Modi requested the chief secretaries of neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to send ten companies of armed policefrom each state to assist the government in “handling law and order situation”.As the sociologist and author Madhu Kishwar points out,
11 all three states thenhad Congress governments, and all three turned down the request.
The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 3
Among them, President of the District Congress Committee, Farooq Malla and Congress activist of Godhra Municipality, Abdul Rehman Dhatia. Tewatia Report, “Fifty-Eight Pilgrims Roasted Alive”.
Nanavati Report, p. 159-160: 214; p. 175.
Gujarat’s minister of state for home Amit Shah’s interview by Sheela Bhatt, 27.02.2003, online at: (retrieved June 2014).
Nanavati Report, p. 175: 229.
Nanavati Report, pp 40-41: 51-52, p. 49: 68; pp. 158-159: 213.
Special Investigation Team (SIT) Report, p. 241. The Supreme Court handed over all records pertaining to 2002 riots to SIT on 20.01.2010; SIT submitted its final report on Modi’s role in 2002 Gujarat riots, on 25.04.2011.
SIT p. 21.
Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 7, When Congress State Governments Snubbed Modi’s Request for Additional Police Force”, online at: (retrieved May 2014).
Communalism Combat:
. “In a 1999 interview, Javed Anand said that before the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, his monthly magazine
Communalism Combat
(published by Sabrang Communications since August 1993) requested and received funds from the Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India and ten individuals to run advertisements attacking the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.
See Elst, K. & Rao, R.N. 2002.
Gujarat after Godhra: Real Violence, Selective Outrage
, Har-Anand, Delhi.
See Balakrishna, S. 2014. “Narendra Modi’s visa denial still an unhealed wound” online at: (retrieved May 2014).
Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama” 13, “RB Shreekumar: Hero No. 2 of Secular Brigade” – Part I, online at: (retrieved May 2014).
16The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
(USCIRF): (retrieved May 2014).
Teesta Setalvad’s testimony to the USCIRF, online at: (retrieved June 2014)
SIT pp. 92-93.
See “Gujarat Riots: the true story”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). Narendra Modi’s interview for Seedhi Baat/Aaj Tak, in India Today, 04.11.2002, online at: (retrieved July 2014).

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 14
About Ehsan Jafri see Elfi, N. 2013. “The Godhra Riots: Sifting Facts from Fiction”, online at: .
SIT pp. 16, 18-19.
SIT p. 16.
SIT pp. 22-25.
SIT pp. 25-27, 34, 522.
SIT pp. 523-530.
SIT p. 41.
SIT p. 241.
SIT pp. 540-41. Also Dasgupta, M. 2012. “SIT rejects amicus curiae’s observations against Modi”, online at: (retrieved June 2014).
SIT pp. 48-51. Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 6, Heroes of the Secular Brigade: A Glimpse into the Doings and Misdoings of Sanjiv Bhatt”, online at: (retrieved July 2014).
Jethmalani, R. 2011. “UPA, media have a brazen mission to demonize Modi”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). Also Kishwar 2013: 6, op. cit.
The National Advisory Council (2004-2014) was a body set up by the first UPA government to advise the Prime Minister of India. Sonia Gandhi served as its Chairperson from its inception to its end.
Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, online at: .
Teesta Setalvad “Nani A Palkhivala Award 2006 Acceptance Speech”, online at: (retrieved June 2014).
Harvey, B. 2001.
Russia in Space: The Failed Frontier
, p. 259, Springer & Praxis Publications, UK, in Kishwar 2013: 13 – I, op. cit. & Kishwar 2013: 13 – II, “How India’s Space Program was Sabotaged”, online at:; also Simha, R.K. 2013. “How India’s cryogenic programme was wrecked”, online at: (retrieved July 2014).
Joshi, R., et al. 1998. “IB Imagined Spy-Ring: CBI” online at: (retrieved July 2014). Also Kishwar 2013: 13 – II, op. cit.
Joshi, R., et al. 1998, op. cit.
Rajasekharan Nair, ibid.
“Plot behind arrest of ISRO scientists, says Nambi Narayanan”,
The New Indian Express,
27.8.2013, online at: (retrieved August 2014); Rajasekharan Nair 2013, op. cit.; Rajappa, S., “A scandal that ISRO would like to forget”, 24

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 15
October 2014, online at (retrieved October 2014).
Rajappa, S., op. cit.
“Rogue cop RB Srikumar framed ISRO’s best”,
, 7.11.2013.

Online at:
Rajasekharan Nair, ibid.
Rajasekharan Nair, J. 2013. “Why My Book Didn’t Sell?”, online at (retrieved October 2014).
Warrier, S. 2014. “Wronged ISRO scientist: India will be safe in Modi’s hands”, online at: (retrieved August 2014); Ananthakrishnan, G. 2012. “Memories of a ‘spy’ who won – Framed scientist vindicated on milestone-eve”,
The Telegraph
, online at
In Kishwar 2013: 13-I, op. cit. Also CBI recommendations in Joshi, R., et al. 1998, op. cit.
Kishwar, ibid.
Indian Muslim Council – USA Organizes US Lecture Tour of Teesta Setalvad & R.B. Sreekumar July 7, 2008, online at:
Venugopal 2012, “ISRO case: police officers freed of charges”, online at: (retrieved August 2014).
“Kerala High Court quashes government order in ISRO spy case” online at: .
Kishwar 2013: 13-I, op.cit.
SIT pp. 18 ff and 176-177.
SIT pp. 85, 170-173.
SIT pp. 65-71.
SIT p. 16-19, 64, 227-233.
“Teesta Setalvad received US $ 250,000 from the Ford Foundation”; “Evidence against Teesta Setalvad”,
Dharma next
, 6.8.2012, online at: (retrieved July 2014).

News Bharati
, 7.1.2013, “Rags to riches after 2000 Gujarat riots: Teesta swallowed riot victims’ money?” Online at: (accessed August 2014).
SIT p. 540-41. Also Dasgupta, M. 2012. “SIT rejects amicus curiae’s observations against Modi”: (retrieved June 2014)
SIT pp. 48-50.