(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 20, 2011
Gujarat 2002: Punish the Guilty
From A Commentator
“The facts mentioned in this report clearly establish that chief minister Shri Narendra Modi is the chief Author and Architect of all that happened in Gujarat after the arson of February 27, 2002. It is amply clear from all the evidence placed before the Tribunal that what began in Godhra, could have, given the political will, been controlled promptly at Godhra itself. Instead, the state government under chief minister Shri Narendra Modi took an active part in leading and sponsoring the violence against minorities all over Gujarat. His words and actions throughout the developments in Gujarat show that he has been openly defying the Constitution and indulging in actions which are positively detrimental to the interests of the country.
….Shri Modi was the one who took Godhra to the rest of Gujarat. He was the one who directed the police and the administration not to act. He was the one who refused to help the likes of former member of parliament, Shri Ahsan Jafri and the large number of people in Shri Jafri ’s home, who were all butchered later on.
….He refused shelter and succour to the victims of the carnage.
….He refused, and continues to refuse, basic human amenities and was using coercion and other tactics to wind up refugee relief camps.
….He has refused to buy land and rehabilitate persons in new locations or to give transparent accounts of the Rs 150 crore rehabilitation package announced by Prime Minister Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit to the state on April 4, 2002. He has no remorse for the rapes, the butcherings, the loss of properties, the agony of displacement and the acute insecurity and lack of belonging felt by large numbers of the people of Gujarat.
…..As late as September 3, 2002, the international working president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shri Ashok Singhal made a shocking statement that received wide publicity, in which he described Gujarat as a "successful experiment" and warned that it would be repeated all over India. Shri Singhal further stated that the success of the Gujarat experiment lay in the fact that entire villages were "purged" of Islam and Muslims. This outrageous and pathetic statement was not only anti-constitutional but also in violation of the law itself, for which he could be prosecuted. But Shri Modi, by not expressing any outrage at Shri Singhal’s remarks, and by indulging in blatant minority-bashing himself, appears to have accepted Shri Singhal’s warning that whatever happened in Gujarat was an experiment, a precursor of things to come in the rest of the country. He has made no secret of his hatred for the minorities, and his utterances from time to time keep emphasising that he is still an RSS pracharak (propagator) with a hostile attitude. His role as CM is nothing short of an extension of his functioning as an RSS pracharak.”
---Report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal, Crimes Against Humanity—Gujarat 2002 released on November 21-22 2002.
Justices VR Krishna Iyer, PB Sawant, Hosbet Suresh and Others.
EIGHT years and three months after the report of the independent Concerned Citizens Tribunal (CCT) that indicted chief minister Narendra Modi directly, two reports in the Tehelka magazine (12 and 19 February 2011) that revealed the report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the Zakia Ahsan Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace Complaint, the revelations have vindicated the CCT Report and the consistent stand of victim survivors and legal rights groups of the well planned conspiracy behind the genocidal carnage of 2002. More than anything else, the revelations are a vindication of the prayers carefully laid out in SLP 1088/2008 -- Zakia Ahsan Jafri & CJP's praying for an FIR against Modi and transfer of investigation to the independent agency.
Critical to the CCT Report was the testimony of a minister in Modi’s cabinet, Haren Pandya recorded about two and a half months after the riots, on 13 May 2002. Pandya had deposed before two retired judges — Justice PB Sawant and Justice Hosbert Suresh — and admitted that ‘he had attended a meeting on 27 February 2002 night at the residence of Modi in which the latter had made it clear that should there be a backlash from the Hindus the police should not come in their way.’ Pandya was ostracised from the ruling BJP, denied a ticket in the December 2002 state assembly elections and murdered mysteriously a few months later.
The backbone of the Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP’s 119-page complaint first sent to the DGP Gujarat on 8.6.2006 was the detailed findings of the CCT Report that analysed critical aspects o constitutional misgovernance in the state of Gujarat. This breakdown of Constitutional Governance included influencing the entire police and administrative machinery into inaction and complicity, subverting justice by non recording of the first information records accurately, not arraigning powerful accused, appointing special public prosecutors with ideological leanings against the Indian Constitution (members of the RSS and VHP) and displaying of a criminal and communal mindset at the very top.
Both Justices Sawant and Suresh have also testified before the SIT confirming Pandya’s deposition before them, implicating Modi. Now, the latest Tehelka revelation states that Bhatt’s version of events coupled with the existing evidence pointed towards a strong possibility that on the night of 27 February, Modi had convened two meetings — one administrative and the second political — and on one hand gave VHP and BJP leaders a fatal signal to mobilise riotous mobs and on the other hand instructed the police machinery to turn a blind eye.
When Sanjeev Bhatt was summoned by the SIT in January 2010, he deposed for two days before them.
The SIT team had also reported that the most serious allegation against Modi — his alleged instruction to senior administrative and police officials that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger — could not be substantiated. Inquiry officer Malhotra reported that such a meeting had indeed been held on 27 February, but none of the officers present, save Sanjeev Bhatt, would testify about what had transpired at the meeting. (Curiously, two claimed amnesia; four denied Modi had made such a statement; one denied he had been part of the meeting.) Malhotra also noted that most of these officers did not seem to be speaking their minds, either because they had been rewarded by the Modi government with choice postings, or because they were still in its service and feared the fall-out. However in explosive detail that can have far reaching consequences, on Page 149 of the SIT report, AK Malhotra of SIT has also noted that “Sanjeev Bhatt, the then DC (Int), has claimed off-the-record that the CM did utter these words.” In March 2010, when asked by SIT inquiry officer AK Malhotra about who was present at this meeting, Modi named seven bureaucrats and officers. Then, he singled out one police officer: Sanjeev Bhatt, deputy commissioner of internal security in the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) and tried to discredit him.. Malhotra had asked Modi who was present at the meeting, not who was absent. But curiously, after he had listed the names of those present, Modi volunteered this unnecessary and unprompted piece of information: Sanjeev Bhatt, DC (Int) was not at the meeting, he said, because it was a “high-level meeting”.
Now with the criminal culpability of the man at the helm being established, the other revelations about the SIT Report become significant. According to the Tehelka expose, the SIT report makes the following observations:
1. The report says, 'The chief minister had tried to water down the seriousness of the situation at Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya and other places by saying that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.' (Page 69 of the report) The enquiry officer also notes: 'His (Modi) implied justification of the killings of innocent members of the minority community read together with an absence of a strong condemnation of the violence that followed Godhra suggest a partisan stance at a critical juncture when the state had been badly disturbed by communal violence.' (Page 153). The SIT report further comments that Modi's statements were sweeping and offensive coming as it did from a chief minister, that too at a critical time when Hindu-Muslim tempers were running high.' (Page 13 of the covering report)
Incidentally the Editor’s Guild Report of 2002, Rights and Wrongs had dealt with, in detail the fact that the chief minister in his official capacity had written congratulatory letters to Gujarati newspapers like the Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar that had inflamed crowds into violence. Such letters had not been sent to those newspapers that played an objective or salutary role.
2. The report says, in an extremely 'controversial' move Modi had placed two senior ministers – Ashok Bhatt and IK Jadeja, whose cell phone records showed that they were in touch with rioters – in the Ahmedabad city police control room and the Gujarat state police control room during the riots with 'no definite charter', fueling the speculation that they 'had been placed to interfere in police work and give wrongful decisions to the field officers.'
3. The report affirms that police officers who took a neutral stand during the riots and prevented massacres were transferred by the Gujarat government to insignificant postings in a highly 'questionable' manner (Pages 7-8 of the covering report)
4. The report says 'The Gujarat government has reportedly destroyed the police wireless communication of the period pertaining to the riots.' It also adds, 'No records, documentations or minutes of the crucial law and order meetings held by the government during the riots had been preserved.' (Page 3)
5. The report says Modi displayed a 'discriminatory attitude by not visiting the riot-affected areas in Ahmedabad where a large number of Muslims were killed, though he went to Godhra on the same day, travelling almost 300 kms on a single day.' (Page 67)
6. In a highly unethical move, the report confirms that the government appointed VHP and RSS-affiliated advocates as public prosecutors in sensitive riot cases. The report states: 'It appears that the political affiliation of the advocates did weigh with the government for the appointment of public prosecutors.' (Page 77)
7. According to the report, the Gujarat government did not take any steps to stop the illegal bandh called by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad on 28.02.2002. On the contrary the BJP had also supported the bandh. (Page 69)
8. The SIT report also says that, in an inexplicable move, the police administration did not impose curfew in Naroda and Meghani Nagar (Ahmedabad city) until 12 and 2 pm respectively on 28.02.02. By then, the situation had severely deteriorated at both places.
9. The SIT discovered that the state police had carried out patently shoddy investigations in the Naroda Patia and Gulberg Society massacre cases and deliberately overlooked the cell phone records of sangh parivar members and BJP leaders involved in the riots.
10. The SIT has also found evidence against the then minister of state for home Gordhan Zadafia (who was reporting directly to Modi) and top cops like MK Tandon and PB Gondia for his complicity in the riots. (Page 168, 169). The content of the report which has found Modi guilty on over a dozen counts is shocking and will come as a serious blow to the carefully cultivated image of Modi as an able administrator and man of governance.
In its concluding observations the very same SIT that has made these startling findings has concluded there is no ground for furthering legal investigations into Modi and others. This then is the greatest challenge before the three judge bench – D K Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam – which will convene on March 3 and decide the future course of action. On 20 January 2011 the newly appointed amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran has already submitted a confidential note suggesting further action. The SIT has in its report to the SC in the past stated that it will be criminally prosecuting former minister of state for home Govardhan Zadaphiya and Joint Commissioner of Police MK Tandon and DCP PB Gondia. The SIT will also answer serious issues on non examination of documentary evidence like phone call records of the chief minister, other politicians and policemen and administrators. The moot question is why the high powered SIT, in such a high profile investigation, has failed to prosecute any person for the destruction of records and subversion of evidence. When destruction of records in financial scams can be the stuff of which newspaper headlines are made, one wonders at the media culpability and silence at the systematic destruction of evidence by Modi as home minister when a State sponsored genocidal carnage of 2,500 innocent members of the minority community took place.
P.S: The day after the Tehelka expose, Rahul Sharma (IPS) Gujarat, a serving officer responsible for first saving the lives of 400 Muslim children in a Madrassa in Bhavnagar and then for placing the mobile phone records of the Ahmedabad Crime Branch in the public domain, has been served with a show cause notice by the Gujarat government. Is it a sign of panic or vindictiveness of the Gujarat government?