Final Report on the Godhra Fire

The 2002 fire on a train in Godhra in Gujurat sparked pogroms against Muslims throughout the state. The final report of the investigative committee headed by retired Indian Supreme Court Justice UC Banerjee has been released.

The final report issued by the UC Banerjee Committee probing the fire on 9166 Sabarmati Express at Godhra on February 27, 2002, has concluded that the fire was “accidental” and not “deliberate”, as claimed by the Gujarat police.

The UC Banerjee Committee was constituted at the instance of the railways minister Lalu Yadav vide Notification No. ERB-I/2004/23/29 dated 04/09/2004, to enquire into ‘certain aspects of the incident of fire on 9166 Sabarmati Express at Godhra on 27.2.2002’ in which as many as 59 persons – mostly claimed to be Kar Sevaks returning from Ayodhya – were killed, sparking off the most horrific communal violence across Gujarat in 2002.

The interim report issued by the committee in January 2005 had claimed that it was an accidental fire, but the report had been clouded in controversy because of its timing as it had been released in the thick of campaigning for Bihar elections.

“The final report also contains the same finding which I have stated in my interim report that the fire in S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was accidental and not not deliberate”, retired Supreme Court Justice U C Banerjee told reporters after submitting the final report to Railway Board Chairman J P Batra.