AHMEDABAD, JUNE 30. The involvement of a "foreign hand" in the Godhra train carnage in Gujarat was today virtually ruled out by the police official who first investigated the case.
Resuming Tuesday’s cross-examination, counsel for the Jan Sangharsha Manch, Mukul Sinha, questioned Mr. Bawa about the injuries sustained by those killed or hurt in the fire in coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express outside the Godhra railway station on February 27, 2002.
Mr. Bawa said the first report of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), submitted in March, mentioned the use of petroleum products in igniting and spreading the fire. But the FSL’s detailed report in May did not find any evidence of the use of petrol or any other petroleum product in starting the fire. He, however, could not say if any other investigation had detected the use of hydrocarbons in igniting the fire.
He contradicted the initial police theory that petrol or some other petroleum product was spread on the floor of the coach before igniting the fire. When Mr. Sinha pointed out that most of the deceased and injured had burn injuries above the waist and that those who escaped had no burn marks in their legs, Mr. Bawa had no answer. He said he had not investigated the matter from that angle and admitted that not a single body had been sent to the FSL for analysis of the cause of death.
According to Mr. Bawa, the fire started in the coach around 8.15 a.m. and the police reached the spot within 15 minutes. But he could not confirm if any attempt was made by the police to save the injured.
To a question, he quoted eyewitness accounts and said that the trouble started after a Muslim girl was allegedly teased by some "kar sevaks" and after a squabble with some vendors on the platform. On the "foreign hand," he said the police did investigate the case from that angle but found no evidence to justify it.
Mr. Bawa’s cross-examination concluded today. The Commission will resume its hearings on July 5 with the cross-examination of P.P. Pandey, presently Additional Police Commissioner, Crime Branch, Ahmedabad.
Talking to mediapersons later, Mr. Sinha demanded an impartial inquiry pointing to the "glaring contradictions" in Mr. Bawa’s version. He claimed that Mr. Bawa’s depositions contradicted virtually every important aspect of the case - the use of hydrocarbons, the pattern of fire in the ill-fated coach and the presence of a "foreign hand" in the "planned conspiracy."