In context of the Godhra riots, 2002, discuss the findings of the Nanavati Commission, which has been recently tabled in the Gujarat Assembly.

Published: December 14, 2019

The Nanavati commission had been appointed to probe burning of the Sabarmati Express in 2002 and later also included the riots which took place in the state. 

About the Nanavati Commission – 

  • It was set up in 2002 after the Sabarmati Express was burned near Godhra station in February 2002
  • It look to inquire – 
  • Events leading to the Sabarmati Express incident.
  • Incidents of violence which followed in Gujarat 
  • Lack of administrative measures to prevent and deal with the disturbance
  • Was the incident pre-planned
  • Was the information available with agencies to prevent it
  • It was also tasked to recommend measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
  • Its scope was later expanded to include inquiry into the role of the then CM Narendra Modi any minister, police officers, organisations involved 
  • The Commission got 24 extensions and submitted its final report in 2014

Delay in tabling the report – 

The first report, with a single volume dealt with the inquiry about burning of coaches was tabled in the assembly in 2008. The report gave a clean chit to Modi, his council of ministers and police officers. The report concluded that the train burning was pre-planned to harm the kar sevaks travelling in that coach.

The final report was of 9 volumes across 2500 pages and was submitted in 2014 to then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. Citing such a voluminous report , the Minister of State for Home, said they needed to study every aspect before putting it out in public and hence the delay.

Key Findings – 

The Nanavati Commission found no conspiracy involved in the riots which were largely the outcome of anger over Godhra train burning incident. The report gives a clean chit to Narendra Modi, BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal. The commission quoted that Modi was kept informed about the steps taken to take control of the sudden violent situation. All measures were with the assistance of para military forces and military which were deployed immediately. 

There was no incident to show that either BJP, VHP or any other political party or any religious organisations had instigated attacks on Muslims. Incidents against Muslims appeared to have happened because of outrage on account of the Godhra incident, where anti-social elements appear to have taken part. There was no evidence to show any inaction or negligence on the part of police in maintaining law and order. 

The report recommends reasonable restrictions to be placed on the media in matters of publication of reports related to incidents during communal riots. The media gave wide publicity to the Godhra incident and the incidents that happened thereafter which lead the people to indulge in communal violence.  It also found deep rooted hatred between some sections of Hindu and Muslim communities as a causes of communal riots. It recommends the government to take steps to eliminate this weakness from society.

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