People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 23  

June 7, 2009

 

VILLAIN OF THE PIECE

 

Accused Number One:

Narendra Modi, CM Of Gujarat - II

 

 

In the context of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the alleged role of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots beginning its work, we had published excerpts from an article in Communalism Combat in our previous issue.

 

Below we publish the concluding part of those excerpts.

 

SECRET UNDOCUMENTED

MEETINGS HELD BY MODI

 

NOT only were no minutes or records kept of the infamous meeting held at chief minister Modi’s office on February 27, 2002 but several other such irregular meetings convened by higher authorities and attended by the following officers also went undocumented:

Ø Sanjiv Bhatt, the then SP (security), attended several such meetings as staff officer to G C Raiger, additional director general of police (ADGP) (intelligence), but failed to record the instructions he received.

Ø K N Sharma, the then inspector general of police (IGP), Ahmedabad range, under whose jurisdiction many people were killed in the riots, also attended such illegal confabulations.

Ø Deepak Swaroop, the then IGP, Vadodara range, under whose jurisdiction the Godhra incident had taken place and, moreover, many incidents of mass killing and other atrocities against minorities occurred, is also said to have participated.

Ø M K Tandon, the then assistant commissioner of police (ACP), Ahmedabad, under whose jurisdiction many gruesome incidents of mass murder (Naroda Patiya, Gulberg Society, etc) had taken place was a part of the close-knit group. Tandon was present when the survivors of Gulberg finally escaped to safety and when the bodies of the 70 slaughtered victims were still recognisable. Three days later, at the mass burial of 133 dead (including victims from Gulberg and Naroda), the bodies had been reduced to dismembered pieces. One of the accused in the Gulberg Society massacre, Madan Chawal, is on record as saying (during Tehelka’s ‘Operation Kalank’) that the accused played cricket with the skulls of the Gulberg dead. The moot question is whether Tandon also connived and participated in the dismembering of corpses?

Ø Amitabh Pathak, the then IGP, Gandhinagar range, under whose jurisdiction many people were killed during the post-Godhra riots, for instance, in Sardarpura in Mehsana district and several places in Sabarkantha district, was also part of this conspiracy.

Ø Shivanand Jha, the then additional CP, Ahmedabad, under whose jurisdiction many notorious atrocities against the minority community were committed, was a close confidant of the chief minister. Between 2004 and 2006, as home secretary, he filed several misleading affidavits on behalf of the state government in the Supreme Court. Ironically, today he is part of the SIT appointed by the apex court.

Ø D D Tuteja, the then commissioner of police (CP), Vadodara, under whose jurisdiction over three dozen incidents of violence, including the Best Bakery case, took place.

 

The superintendents of police in the districts of Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Patan, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad rural, Anand, Kheda, Vadodara rural, Godhra and Dahod, where mass killings were reported during the riots, all need to be specifically interrogated for their roles as also their failure to document illegal and unconstitutional instructions from the chief minister and other representatives of the state government.

 

No minutes of the meetings held by the chief minister and senior bureaucrats were recorded and such questionable instructions were mainly conveyed by telephone.

 

Not keeping minutes served the twin objectives of 1) field officers carrying out the conspiracy to execute a pogrom against the minorities and 2) avoidance of the subsequent monitoring of the actions of jurisdictional officers in the field.

 

FURTHER

CORROBORATION

 

Former DGP, Gujarat, R B Sreekumar, states in para 84 of his fourth affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission that on February 28, 2002 his senior, the then DGP, K Chakravarti, also told him about the late evening meeting on February 27. The meeting was held in Modi’s office after his return from Godhra. At this meeting the chief minister is reported to have said, “In communal riots police takes action against Hindus and Muslims on one-to-one basis. This will not do now, allow Hindus to give vent to their anger.” None of the officers present at the meeting (which included P C Pande, the then CP, Ahmedabad, Ashok Narayan, additional chief secretary (home), etc) objected to these verbal instructions from the chief minister.

 

Chakravarti also observed in his conversation with Sreekumar that the chief minister’s attitude was proving to be a major obstacle to police officers in initiating action against Hindu communal elements who were on the rampage against minorities. He added that the act of parading the dead bodies of those killed in the Godhra train fire in Ahmedabad, including those who did not belong to the city, was highly objectionable and had made the situation more volatile by provoking rage among Hindu communal elements against the minority community. He also said that P C Pande had objected to this parading of dead bodies in Ahmedabad but the commissioner’s objections had been over-ruled by the chief minister.

 

Although Sreekumar suggested to Chakravarti that the latter should issue instructions to jurisdictional officers to act in accordance with the law, and follow the appropriate instructions regarding the strategy and tactics to be employed while handling communal riots, nothing of the sort was done.

 

DGP Chakravarti was quite critical of the presence of a cabinet minister, I K Jadeja, in his office during the days following the Godhra train fire and complained that this was adversely affecting his supervision of the riot situation. He also said that officers in critical situations were carrying out the verbal orders of leaders of the ruling party instead of following the directives of jurisdictional officers.

 

There is further corroboration of the meeting in the chief minister’s office.

 

Sreekumar, who bore the designation of additional director general of police at the time, was posted as head of the Gujarat state intelligence wing from April 2002. From April 2002 until September that year he maintained a contemporaneous record (a personal register) documenting the illegal instructions issued by Modi and his own superiors in the police department. These instructions were aimed not towards arresting the violence and booking the guilty but shielding the real accused and concocting false evidence. He got this document cross-signed by his immediate boss, O P Mathur, the IGP (administration and security).

 

In this register, Sreekumar documents that on June 7, 2002 P K Mishra, principal secretary to the chief minister and accused no 31 in the FIR, asked him, as chief of intelligence, to find out which minister from the Modi cabinet had met a private inquiry commission of which retired Supreme Court judge, V R Krishna Iyer, was a part. Mishra told Sreekumar that Haren Pandya, the then minister of state for revenue, was suspected to be the man concerned. He also gave Sreekumar the number of a mobile phone (98240 30629) and asked him to trace the call records.

 

Five days later, on June 12, 2002, Sreekumar informed Mishra that Haren Pandya was believed to be the minister concerned even as he stressed that the matter was a sensitive one and outside the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB)’s charter of duties. Call details of the above-mentioned mobile phone which, it turned out, did belong to Pandya, were however handed over to Mishra through IGP O P Mathur.

 

Modi was obviously keeping a close watch on any information leaks or dissent within his cabinet or hierarchy of officials.

 

PUNISH THE GOOD,

REWARD THE BAD

 

The transfer of officers from field executive posts, in the thick of the 2002 riots, despite the DGP’s objection to these transfers, amounted to Modi, as chief executive, deliberately interfering in their duties.

 

The transfers were effected to facilitate the convenient placement, in crucial positions, of those persons among the IPS and IAS who were willing to subvert the system for personal benefit.

 

Similarly, Modi rewarded those senior officials who gave incomplete and questionable evidence before the Nanavati-Shah Commission with undue benefits. P C Pande, a Modi favourite, was rehabilitated into the CBI when Advani was home minister in February 2004, just when citizens’ groups were pleading for independent investigation into the riot cases. In a clear-cut directive, the Supreme Court ruled in October 2004 that he should be kept out of handling Gujarat 2002 cases. Defiant and undeterred, in 2006 the Modi government appointed him DGP of the state, a post that he occupied until six weeks before his retirement. A subsequent challenge to his appointment, by CJP in the Supreme Court, was rejected, after extensive arguments, in February 2009.

 

Another equally glaring example of rewards for the bad was the post-retirement appointment of Ashok Narayan, the then additional chief secretary, home department, to a two-year post as State Vigilance Commissioner, which was followed by further rewards in the form of five extensions of his tenure.