Godhra turns into virtual fortress ahead of Modi fast

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 16:43 hrs

Ahmedabad: As Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi gears up for his one-day fast tomorrow in Godhra, the town has virtually turned into a fortress.

Local BJP leaders expect a crowd of over 50,000, including a big chunk from the town's minority population, to attend the event at the State Reserve Police (SRP) Ground in Godhra, about 250 km from here, in Panchmahal district.

The fast, part of Modi's 'Sadbhavna (harmony) Mission', comes nearly a month before the 10th anniversary of Godhra carnage where 59 people, mostly karsevaks, were killed when the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express train was burnt on February 27, 2002, triggering the worst-ever riots in Gujarat.

"Over 1,600 policemen have been deployed along with 50 specially trained Chetak commandos and other unarmed jawans across the town," Panchmahal SP Sachin Bhadshah told PTI.

"Security has been tightened in every part of the town. Also, a three-layer security has been put in place at the fast venue," he said, adding that CCTV cameras have been installed at the ground and sensitive locations.

Panchmahal district BJP president Jayprakash Patel said over 10,000 people have registered themselves to fast along with the chief minister. An equal number have been shortlisted to greet him on stage. "We expect over 50,000 people to attend the Sadbhavna fast," Patel said.

He said there was no tension in the town following the event and such talks were just "rumours". "Many programmes of the chief minister have taken place in Godhra after 2002 and nothing has happened. All talks about tension are hyped."

Patel denied reports that a special enclosure has been built for the people of minority community to offer Friday namaz.

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