Rafiq Hussain Bhatuk, the prime accused in the Sabarmati Express burning case (Godhra Kand) has finally been arrested after almost 19 years of the ghastly incident in which 59 karsevaks were burnt to death. Rafiq was arrested from Godhra town as informed by police on Monday, February 15, 2021.
Rafiq Hussain Bhatuk was part of the core group of the accused who had hatched the entire conspiracy, incited the mob and even arranged petrol to torch the train compartment.
The Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Panchmahal police and Godhra town police raided a house in the Signal Falia locality in the town and nabbed Bhatuk. He used to sell fruits to earn a living.
“He fled to Delhi immediately after his name cropped up during the investigation. He was facing murder and rioting charges among others,” Panchmahal Superintendent of Police Leena Patil said.
A total of 59 “karsevaks” were killed in the Godhra train burning incident on February 27, 2002, triggering the worst communal riots in the history of Gujarat. The SP said Bhatuk used to work as a labourer at Godhra railway station.
“He was involved in pelting stones on the compartment and pouring petrol inside before it was set on fire by other accused,” she added.
The police had received information that Bhatuk has changed his house and visited his family in the past, but he could not be caught as he did not stay at his home for long. “We recently learnt that he had changed his house and visited his family in the past too. However, we couldn’t catch him as he used to leave after a day or two. This time, our teams managed to catch him. We will hand him over to Godhra railway station police for further investigation”, the SP added.
Three other accused named Salim Ibrahim Badam aka Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdulmajid Yousuf Mitha are still absconding. It is believed that they fled to Pakistan.