Godhra train burning case ‘key conspirator’ held in Gujarat

Gandhinagar, Feb 16 : A key conspirator in the infamous 2002 Godhra train burning case — who was on the run for the last 19 years — was arrested from Godhra town, police said on Tuesday.

Panchmahal police claimed that arrested accused Rafiq Hussain Bhatuk, 51, was part of the ‘core group’ of culprits involved in the conspiracy, wherein a mob had torched a coach of Sabarmati Express at the Godhra station in Panchmahal district of Gujarat on February 27, 2002, which caused the death of 59 ‘karsevaks’.

The police raided a house in Signal Falia area near the Godhra railway station on Sunday night and picked up Bhatuk on charge of hatching a conspiracy and inciting a mob to set the rail compartment on fire.

Police claimed that Bhatuk was involved in stone-pelting on the train bogey and even pouring petrol inside, before it was torched by other accused.

The train burning had triggered the worst communal riots in the history of Gujarat.

After his name cropped up in the investigation, Bhatuk fled to Delhi. “He is facing murder and rioting charges, among others. Bhatuk worked at railway stations and at construction sites as a labourer in Delhi. He sometimes sold household items on a handcart,” the police said.

Three co-accused — Salim Ibrahim Badam alias Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdulmajid Yousuf Mitha — are still absconding and are believed to be in Pakistan.