Posts Tagged ‘Burning’

A timeline of the Godhra case: From February 26, 2002 to March 1, 2011

One of the most sensitive cases of Gujarat that led to unrest and tarnished the entire image that the state previously had – The Train Burning at Godhra. The incident shocked the Indian psyche and led to one of the worst communal riots India had seen unfold in Gujarat.

What actually happened? Why did the criminal justice system take nine long years to give its verdict? What happened in this time gap?


FEBRUARY 26, 2002

9 pm: A pre-plan was made to attack the Sabarmati Express at Room no. 8 of Aman Guest House at Signal Falia.

FEBRUARY 27, 2002

• 7-42 am: The train arrives at Godhra station.
• 7-42 to 7.47 am: During the five-minute halt, there is a scuffle between a Kar Sevak and a Muslim tea vendor.
• 7-47 am: The train starts from Godhra station, leaving some passengers on the platform.
• 7-48 to 8-00 am: There is stone-throwing and violence by the mob.
• 8-05 am: Train stops for the second time near Cabin ‘A’ of Godhra station.
• 8-05 to 8-17 am: A group of people comes running from the parcel office towards the train and there is more stone-throwing and violence. The coach is set on fire. The fire-tenders were stopped from reaching the spot.• 8-25 am: The police arrive and open fire to disperse the mob.
59 Kar Sevaks die after S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was torched. FIR was filed against 1500 people.

FEBRUARY 28 – MARCH 31, 2002

Communal violence erupts in various parts of Gujarat, killing over 1200 people.

MARCH 3, 2002

Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) invoked against those arrested for Godhra train burning case. (POTA was an Ordinance before becoming an Act)

MARCH 6, 2002

Gujarat government appoints a Commission under Commission of Inquiry Act to probe the Godhra incident headed by KG Shah to complete the report and submit within 3 months.

MARCH 9, 2002

Police include IPC section 120B (Criminal conspiracy) against all accused.

MARCH 25, 2002

POTO suspended on all accused.

MARCH 28, 2002

The Prevention of Terrorism Act replaced the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) 2001.

MAY 22, 2002

Retired Justice Nanavati was appointed as a part of the commission.

MAY 27, 2002

First charge-sheet filed against 54 accused.

FEBRUARY 18, 2003

POTA re-invoked against the accused.

NOVEMBER 21, 2003

Supreme Court stays judicial proceedings against all riot related cases including Godhra Train burning.


UC Banerjee heads a committee to probe into the train burning case after the then railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav asked for it.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2004

POTA repealed by UPA Government.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2004

As POTA has been repealed, there is a decision taken to review the POTA charges against the accused.

JANUARY 17, 2005

Justice UC Banerjee submits a report suggesting the fire in S-6 was an accident.

MAY 16, 2005

POTA Review committee gives its opinion not to charge accused under POTA given.

OCTOBER 13, 2006

Gujarat HC rules that the formation of UC Banerjee Committee was set up illegally, in violation of the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 which prohibits the setting up of separate commissions by state and central governments to probe a matter of public importance.

MARCH 26, 2008

Supreme Court Constitutes Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate Godhra Train burning case and eight other post-Godhra riots.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2008

Nanavati Commission report submits its report on Godhra Train burning incident and says it was a pre-planned conspiracy.

FEBRUARY 12, 2009

Gujarat HC upholds POTA review committee decision that the act cannot be applied.

MAY 1, 2009

Supreme Court lifts the stay on Godhra train and all other cases after it finds SIT has made considerable progress.

JUNE 1, 2009

A fast track trial court starts the proceedings inside the Sabarmati jail premises.

MAY 6, 2010

Again, the Supreme Court restrains trial courts not to pronounce judgment in the train burning case and other riot cases.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2010

Trial concludes but no pronouncement of judgment due to stay by Supreme Court.

JANUARY 18, 2011

Supreme Court lifts the ban on pronouncement of verdict.

FEBRUARY 22, 2011

Trial Court Convicts 31 and acquits 63 others.

MARCH 1, 2011

11 people sentenced to death and 20 to life in prison.
In the meantime, 5 accused died and 8 were tried by a juvenile court as they were under-aged. 253 witnesses were examined and 1500 Documentary evidences were presented by Gujarat police to the court.


The ghastly calamity was brutal. It endangered the moral fabric of Gujarat. Just like one associates Gujarat with development and growth, Godhra is the darker side of it. Humanity, in general, was the sole sufferer.

The conspiracies and the bad intentions of the perpetrators will continue to succeed as long as we let them to continue. It is in our hands to restore faith, humanity and equality. Let us grow collectivity and give justice to our pledge – All Indians are my brothers and sisters!

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Jones suspended the event of the Qur’an burning immediately preceding 11th September, 2010. He ultimately gave a statement confirming that the Church will not burn the Qur’an, not today, not ever. He claimed that his ultimate aim was to expose that Islam is “very dangerous and very radical”.

The cancellation was announced by Jones on 9th September. He then planned to meet the Imam, Faisal Abdul Rauf at New York. Terry Jones claimed that he called off the burning as he was promised that the planned Islamic Centre and the mosque would be moved away from the New York’s Ground Zero. However, the Imam denied such promises. “We are, of course, now against any other group burning Qurans,” Jones said. “We would right now ask no one to burn Qurans. We are absolutely strong on that. It is not the time to do it.” He also believed that if the mosque will be moved, it would be a sign of God to call off the Qur’an burning.

The decision was welcomed by many, where as the ‘copy cat’ protests continued in some parts of the world.

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A declaration by a small group and a world wide chaos – it all gained notice when the pastor Terry Jones and his wife Sylvia decided to burn the Holy Qur’an. The couple heads 50 member Church in the Gainesville, Florida named Dove World Outreach Centre. The Church is known for its Islam and Gay criticism. Jones announced that the Church would burn the Qur’an in order to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 bomb blasts.

Terry Jones also founded and led a Church named Christliche Gemeinde Köln (CGK), in the Cologne, Germany. However, the Gainesville Sun reported that he left the Church in Germany after being accused of fraud and he was also fined by the Cologne Court for illegally using the title ‘doctor’. A leader of the Cologne church said “He (Jones) didn’t project the biblical values and Christianity, but always made himself the center of everything.” The CGK closed down after the departure of Jones and re-opened under a new leadership.

Before the declaration to burn the Qur’an the Church has been into many anti-Islamic activities as well. In 2009, Dove World posted a lawn sign which stated in large red letters “Islam is of the Devil”. This obviously ignited a lot of protests by the activists and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Soon after the Church put up this sign, CAIR came up with another sign that read: “Koran 9:5 Kill the disbelievers wherever you find them.” As for the International Burn a Koran Day, the announcement was made by the Church in July, 2010. The Church members decided to burn hundreds of copies of Qur’an to mark the protest against the 9/11 attacks. However, Jones admitted that he did not read the Qur’an but defended himself by saying that the Qur’an is “full of lies”. As this started gaining awareness through the media, hundreds of protests and condemnations began. Jones attracted fans and critics on the social networking sites and he mentioned that he has received death threats since the day he announced this event. On the other hand, on September 8, 2010, Rackspace, the provider of hosting service to Dove World Outreach website, withdrew its services stating that it was a ‘contract issue’ and not a ‘constitutional issue’.

Criticisms spread in abundance, not only on local levels but at the international levels. Religious leaders got together and organized Peace Rallies and Gatherings as “Interfaith Solidarity Day” declaration. President Barack Obama too feared the planned burnings as “a recruitment bonanza for Al Qaeda” that could result in serious violence. This was supported by the words of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “It is regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people, can make this outrageous and distrustful, disgraceful plan and get the world’s attention”.

In spite of all these international condemnation and personal threats, Jones said he would not “back down because of fear.”

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