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Godhra train burning case accused held after 19 years

Mob torched a coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station and 59 persons were charred to death on Feb. 26, 2002.

Rafiq Bhatuk, an alleged key conspirator in the 2002 Godhra train burning case, has been arrested by police. He was on the run for as many as 19 years before being arrested from Godhra.

As per the local police, 51-year-old Bhatuk was part of the main group that hatched a conspiracy to target the train in which kar sevaks were returning from Ayodhya. The mob torched a coach of Sabarmati Express near the Godhra railway station and 59 persons were charred to death on February 26, 2002.

On a tip-off from sources, the police raided a house in Signal Falia area near the Godhra railway station on Sunday night and picked up Bhatuk.

The police claimed that he was involved in stone-pelting on the bogey and even pouring petrol inside before it was torched by other accused. The incident triggered massive riots in the State in which over 1000 people were killed.

According to the police, the accused had fled to Delhi after his name surfaced during the investigation. He is facing murder and rioting charges.

Three other co-accused — Salim Ibrahim Badam alias Salim Panwala, Shaukat Charkha and Abdulmajid Yousuf Mitha — are still absconding and are believed to be in Pakistan as per the Gujarat police.

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