Godhra carnage: crucial evidence destroyed
Ahmedabad, January 19
The cross-examination of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) officials at the Nanavati-Shah Commission today revealed that the canvas used in the vestibule between the S-6 and S-7 coaches of the Sabarmati Express, through which the miscreants had allegedly entered the train and set it afire, had been destroyed.
The FSL experts, who filed crucial reports about the burnt coaches of the train, were also found not to have any expertise or formal training on examining cases related to fire or patterns caused by them.
During the cross-examination of Mr M N Joshi, the scientific officer of FSL, Gandhinagar said, he had inspected the S-7 coach on July 2002 at Ahmedabad and he saw a khaki-coloured canvas in place of the original black-coloured one on the coach.
According to version of the Special Investigating Team (SIT), formed to investigate the Godhra train carnage, the canvas of S-7 coach was cut open and the miscreants entered the train, poured petrol and torched it.
During the inspection, Mr Joshi said he noticed that it was “new” and the top metal-portion of the vestibule still contained burn marks. Surprisingly, Mr Joshi admitted that these details were not mentioned in the original report filed by him.
“The original canvas of S-7 was burnt on February 27 itself”, he said. “I did not feel the need to ask the railway authorities why the canvas was changed,” he told the Commission.
According to one of the annexures submitted before the commission, the S-7 coach was declared ‘sick’ when it initially reached Ahmedabad on February 27, 2002. Later it was made ‘fit’ on March 5 and was allowed in service from March 7 to July 12, 2002 on train No 9165/9166 after repairing the damages. The coach was withdrawn later on July 12 the same year and stationed at Ahmedabad railway station.
Mr S G Khandelwal, the Assistant Director of FSL, who also deposed today before the commission, said he did not have any formal training or expertise about fire and fire patterns nor had he ever dealt with such cases.
“I was called in to examine only one of the sliding doors on the S-6 coach at Godhra,” Mr Khandelwal said. He admitted before the commission that he had not conducted any chemical tests of the scratch mark on the sliding door of the coach, which according to him was made while the miscreants tried to forcibly open the door to enter the coach on February 27, 2002. — UNI
Nanavati panel summons BJP, VHP leaders
Ahmedabad, January 19 The Nanavati-Shah Commission probing the Godhra train carnage and its aftermath issued summons today to the BJP general secretary Nalin Bhatt and VHP general secretary Kaushik Mehta to appear before it for cross-examination on February 2.
The commission also directed Vithal Pandya, father of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya, to appear before it on February 3.
Meanwhile, the main eyewitness of the high-profile Best Bakery case Zahira Sheikh and member of Forensic Science Laboratory J.K. Dave are slated to be cross-examined by the panel on February 4. — UNI