By: Dipu Shaw
Two days after the Nanavati Shah Commission gave a clean cheat to Narendra Modi, Tehelka organized a press conference to publicly deny the claims of the Commission.
The Nanavati Commission had submitted the first part of its report on Godhra to Chief Minister Narendra Modi on 18th September, 2008. The report was tabled in the assembly a week later.
Tehelka labeled the Nanavati report as “extremely controversial” and called its findings a “manufactured theory”.
The magazine which claims to have conducted an exhaustive investigation in 2007 on the Godhra incident, raised questions about the authenticity of the Nanavati Report at a press conference at Women’s Press Club recently.
Tarun Tejpal, editor in chief of Tehelka and his team of investigative journalists refuted the Nanavati Report with their sting camera footage, much of which had already been shown in November last year on Aaj Tak.
The Nanavati Commission findings state that the burning of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002 was “a pre-planned conspiracy, not a spontaneous act of mob fury.” Tarun Tejpal accuses the Godhra police of “staging this conspiracy.”
On being asked what could have caused the controversy, the veteran journalist replied that there was tussle over a Muslim girl at the Godhra station that day.
The Tehelka version of the story
The Sabarmati Express carrying many karsevaks arrives at the Godhra station at 7.43 am on 27 February, 2002. One or more karsevaks try to abduct a Muslim girl from the platform. This leads to rumours that Muslims have been abducted and taken aboard the train. The feud gets bitter and ends with the burning of coach S-6.
When journalists asked how such a huge crowd gathered at the station in such short time and from where they managed the inflammatory material, Tarun Tejpal did not give a satisfactory reply
Tehelka had already disputed the Nanavati report that 140 litres of petrol was procured from a local petrol pump to be used for burning the coach.
Kakul Pathak, media cell convenor of the BJP in Godhra and Murli Mulchandani, the vice-president of the Godhra Municipal Corporation were two of the key eyewitnesses for the police. Tehelka claimed that it caught both of them admitting on camera that they were not even present at the station on the day of the incident. The video that was shown to the media persons in support of this argument was however too unclear. The rest of the videos had the other eyewitnesses saying that they were not present at the scene of the incident.
Tarun Tejpal when asked why some of the video footage was out of sync, reasoned that it was captured by hidden cameras and the Tehelka team “only showed what they had investigated”.
One obvious question from the journalists was whether the investigations were sent to the Nanavati Commission. Harinder Baweja, editor-Investigations of Tehelka informed that they were. Nevertheless, there was no response from the Commission.
“We want the Nanavati Commission to relook at its conclusions,” concluded the editor in chief.