Godhra: The air in the newly renovated Godhra railway station near which 20 years back Sabarmati Express was put on fire wears not only smells of fresh paint but also of peace. It is difficult to fathom this this is the same site where the charred bodies of 59 karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were found inside Coach S-6.
The burnt train is still parked in the Godhra railway station as if frozen in time — reminding one of the indelible wounds inflicted on the collective consciousness of this civilisation. Yet, the resilient people of Godhra who witnessed the carnage 20 years back do not carry any grudge or trauma.
Waiting for his daughter to arrive from Vadodara, septuagenarian Ishwar Lal Tarani who lives just near the railway station says all has been forgotten and forgiven and life has moved on for the residents of Godhra. “Ab sab bhool gaye hai, ab shanti hai (everything has been forgiven, only peace prevails now),” he says with an affable and sincere smile.
It is not as if only people of one particular community have such a sense of security. An autowala, Shabir bhai, who ferries people right outside the station repeats the exact same lines uttered by Tarani. “Bahut shanti hai. Everything is alright now. There is no enmity between the two communities.”
Yet, there are concerns about development in the area, particularly about roads. While people are happy with the overall development in the state, Godhra still remains comparatively under-developed. “We would bring back Narendra Modi again. But the roads aren’t up to the mark. This place needs a lot of development,” says Razzak.
A young railway professional Adil also highlights the need for quick development in the area says: “I am not a supporter of any party. But I like election time because that’s the only time when I can see some change happening.”
Godhra has around 2,79,000 voters. Of these, 72,000 live in Muslim-dominated area.
BJP’s MLA C K Raulji has been representing Godhra since 2007. Cong has fielded Rashmitaben Chauhan, AAP’s Rajeshbhai Patel and AIMIM’s Shabbir Kachba are also in the fray,
On the morning of 27 feb, 2002 burning of Sabarmati Express occurred near Godhra railway. 59 Hindu pilgrims and karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were killed in a fire