Happy my father has been vindicated: Umarji’s son after acquittal

By R.K. Misra, IANS
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GODHRA - Saeed Umarji was just 25 when his 55-year-old cleric father Maulana Umarji was picked up by the police and made the main accused in the 2002 Godhra train carnage case.

I was a raw youngster enjoying my youthful days in this small town at the back of beyond. And suddenly my world came crashing down and I began my nightmarish journey to courts and jail. Someone, perhaps jokingly, once asked me in the premises of the Supreme Court in Delhi during one of my innumerable trips whether I actually stayed here,” Saeed Umarji said after the court verdict Tuesday acquitting his father.

“I believe in the judiciary. We are very happy. We cannot thank him enough,” said Saeed of the judge who delivered the verdict Tuesday.

“We have gone through hell. My father spent eight years of his life in jail. An old man of failing health, a cleric at that, suffered in every manner. We are happy that he has been vindicated but can anybody return what was so brutally snatched away from an entire family,” he lamented.

“We are grateful to secular Hindus and secular political parties who extended support to us in our worst hour of crisis redeeming our faith in the inherent goodness of our people.

“My father was a person who always eagerly took the lead in extending a helping hand during natural and man made calamities. On April 4, 2002, he had led a delegation to meet then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for relief and rehabilitation. He had condemned both the Godhra and post-Godhra happenings.

“On March 2002 he took a similar delegation to meet all party delegation of MPs who had come to Gujarat. He had issued a public appeal to support secular forces during the election. After the BJP won with a thumping majority, he was the first to be picked up and villainised and the rest is history, he added.

According to Saeed, his father has led people to go to the help of the earthquake affected in Latur, Maharashtra, and later in Kutch, the Bhopal Gas tragedy and any such tragedy that has affected people. “Would such a humane human being ever think of involving himself in such an inhuman act, he questioned.

Saeed feels there is need for people at the helm of affairs to review the system as it operates to ensure that the innocent do not have to suffer endlessly. But there is hope for all. I shall always remain highly indebted to all secular minded people of this country for standing by us in our hour of need. It is these forces and parties who need to be strengthened, he added.

A court Tuesday convicted 31 people but acquitted 63 for the 2002 burning of the Sabarmati Express in Godhra town in Gujarat that killed 59 people and triggered one of the worst communal riots in Indian history. The judge let off 63 others, including Maulvi Saeed Umarji, who had been dubbed the prime accused.

Filed under: Religion

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