A man accused of plotting the attack on the Sabarmati Express train that killed 59 people in Gujarat’s Godhra in February 2002 has been arrested.
Farooq Bhana, a former corporator of Godhra municipality, was on Wednesday arrested in Panchmahal district’s Kalol, where he planned to meet his family. Bhana was on the run for the last 14 years.
An ATS official said that Bhana was one of the key accused, who hatched the conspiracy to burn the train at Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002.
Superintendent of Police (ATS) Himanshu Shukla said that Bhana, an ex corporator of Godhra municipality, was arrested from Kalol in Panchmahal district where “a clandestine meeting with his family members was to be held.” Officials said that Bhana is allegedly the main conspirator who had held a meeting at Aman guest house in Phoolan bazar, adjacent to Godhra railway station.
“Bhana had told in the meeting that the Sabarmati Express will be late and instead of 2 AM it would reach at 7 AM. His part of the conspiracy behind burning the train for which 140 liters of petrol was procured following the meeting at the guest house,” ATS officials said. They said that Bhana will be handed over to Supreme Court appointed-Special Investigation Team (SIT) which investigated the case.
According to the ATS officials, Bhana was a corporator in Godhra when the incident took place. To evade arrest, he then moved to Mumbai where he became a property broker.
“Based on a tip-off, we nabbed Bhana at a toll plaza near Kalol town of Panchmahal district when he was going to Godhra from Mumbai today. He was the key conspirator of Godhra carnage,” an ATS official said.
In the FIR, Bhana was charged with conspiracy to put the S-6 coach on fire during a meeting with others accused at the Aman Guest House near Godhra Railway Station.
Four of the absconding accused were caught last year by ATS and now Bhana who was the alleged mastermind has been taken to custody.
In 2011, a special court in regard to the case pronounced death sentence to 11 people and life time imprisonment to 20. 63 people were acquitted in this case. The convicts have filed an appeal in the Gujarat High Court against the trial court’s order. The verdict is awaited.