Accused number one: Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat
The BJP’s rumour machine coupled with the Indian mass media’s tardiness to investigate has allowed the impression to grow that there are no specific allegations against Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the complaint currently being investigated by the SIT. Nothing could be further from the truth. The carefully constructed complaint lists more than 100 specific charges against Narendra Modi.
February 27, 2002. The tragic killings in the fire in coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra were used and manipulated to justify a pre-orchestrated massacre which enjoyed the sanction of the constitutionally elected government in Gujarat.
The district magistrate (DM) and collector of Panchmahal (Godhra), Jayanti Ravi, called the incident at the station an accident, as did the then prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, making his official statement in Parliament at about 4 p.m. on February 27. By the evening of that day however, Modi – who arrived in Godhra around 2 p.m. surrounded by VHP confidants like Dr Jaideep Patel – had decided otherwise. At about 7.30 p.m. he said on an Akashwani Gujarati radio broadcast that the incident at Godhra was a preplanned ISI-driven conspiracy (executed by local Godhra Muslims, no doubt!). In the days that followed the union ministry of home affairs, manned by none less than Modi’s mentor, LK Advani, did its best to instil into public perception the theory of a conspiracy behind the Godhra incident. To date conspiracy has not been proven.
Modi did not stop at that. He expressed his intention to have the burnt coach transported to Ahmedabad, a move that DM Jayanti Ravi strongly opposed. Irritated, Modi did the next best thing. He assembled a motor cavalcade, ordered that the bodies be handed over to the then VHP state general secretary, Jaideep Patel, and sent them to the Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. There the bodies were paraded around. The next morning, on February 28, 2002, the Gujarati daily, Sandesh, carried a gory seven-column colour photograph of the burnt bodies wrapped in white shrouds, a trishul lying beside them.
Undeterred by the impact or fallout, unconcerned by facts, Modi set his Machiavellian plan into motion.
Secret meetings to plan carnage
February 27, 2002. Gandhinagar, Lunawada, Godhra. Late in the evening of February 27, Modi called a secret meeting in Gandhinagar, which he attended along with some members of his cabinet and top bureaucrats. At this meeting illegal instructions were issued, where policemen and bureaucrats were in fact instructed to perform illegal acts.
According to the report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal – Gujarat 2002 by a panel including Justices VR Krishna Iyer and PB Sawant:
"The chief minister, Narendra Modi, took an active role along with at least three cabinet colleagues to instruct senior police personnel and civil administrators that a ‘Hindu reaction was to be expected and this must not be curtailed or controlled’."
"What is worse or as bad as the occurrences themselves is the now almost incontrovertible pointers/evidence, including statements made by a former cabinet minister of the state of Gujarat, that a high-level meeting was convened by the chief minister at which then chief secretary, Subbarao, and then [additional chief secretary (home)] Ashok Narayan, and senior policemen were summoned, at which clear instructions were given ‘not to deal with the Hindu rioting mobs’. Thereby clear sanction and sponsorship was given by the state to brute violence that included sexual violence of girls and women" (Crime Against Humanity, report of the Concerned Citizens Tribunal – Gujarat 2002).
A minister from Modi’s cabinet had testified about these details before the tribunal in mid-May 2002. His identity was kept anonymous. Soon after the report was released in November 2002 however, one of the panel members revealed Haren Pandya’s identity to Outlook magazine. Within months, Pandya was killed.
Other illegal meetings
There is other primary evidence of similar meetings to plan killings that were held in Lunawada and Godhra on February 27, 2002 at which cabinet ministers like Prabhatsinh Chauhan and others were present. Each of those present will need to be interrogated and investigated at the time of the SIT investigation.
Taking control of policing
The illegal attempts by senior members of the chief minister’s cabinet (Ashok Bhatt, accused number 2 in the complaint, and Indravijaysinh K. Jadeja, accused number 3) to influence the police were part of the collective design of the chief minister and his colleagues. Several reports in the press during that period described how the ministers sat in the police control rooms at Gandhinagar and Shahibag and actually subverted police rules and protocol by instructing policemen not to function and manipulating instructions in many cases to aid crimes and the destruction of evidence. Bhatt, state law minister in 2002 right up to 2007, is today the speaker of the Gujarat assembly. As head of Gujarat’s law and judiciary department, he had complete control over the appointment of public prosecutors until 2007 (see accompanying story, ‘Wheels of injustice’).
Proof of both the February 27 meeting as also the illegal activity of ministers located inside the Ahmedabad city and Gujarat state control rooms to influence police functioning, have corroborative evidence.
February 28, 2002. The Tehelka tapes contain a confession or, rather, a gloating admission from a rapist from Naroda who speaks of Modi arriving in Naroda not long after 112 persons were humiliated, butchered and burnt, and euphorically congratulating the army of marauders even as he was surrounded by Black Cat commandos (who are therefore witnesses as well).
"(Suresh) Richard: [On the day of the massacre] we did whatever we did till quite late in the evening… at around 7.30… around 7.15, our Modibhai came… Right here, outside the house… My sisters garlanded him with roses… Tehelka: Narendrabhai Modi… Richard: Narendra Modi… He came with black commandos… got down from his Ambassador car and walked up here… All my sisters garlanded him… a big man is a big man after all… Tehelka: He came out on the road? Richard: Here, near this house… Then he went this way… Looked at how things were in Naroda… Tehelka: The day the Patiya incident happened…
Richard: The same evening… Tehelka: February 28… Richard: 28… Tehelka: 2002… Richard: He went around to all the places… He said our tribe was blessed… He said our mothers were blessed [for bearing us]… Tehelka: He came at about 5 o’clock or at 7? Richard: Around 7 or 7.30… At that time there was no electricity… Everything had been burnt to ashes in the riots…" (August 12, 2007, www.tehelka.com).
‘Operation Kalank’ was a sting operation carried out by Tehelka over several months and made public in October 2007. The tapes, recorded conversations with several persons who were in some way involved in the Gujarat genocide of 2002, have now been verified by the CBI and have the status of extrajudicial confessions.
The contents of these conversations are stark and revealing. Apart from brazen admissions of mass murder and rape, they describe the transportation of arms from other states and preparations for the Godhra and post-Godhra violence that were underway for several weeks before February 27, 2002. They also describe the chief minister, Narendra Modi’s direct role in fuelling mass rape and murder. These revelations call for the SIT to re-examine the veracity/authenticity of the recordings. The SIT must question/interrogate all those persons who spoke to Tehelka as well as the individuals they name no matter how powerful they may be.
One such conversation is with a man who worked in the accounts office at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara. He also speaks of direct orders from Modi and Modi’s street operator, Babu Bajrangi.
The chief minister did not visit the riot-affected areas to meet the bruised and battered victims who had taken refuge in nearby relief camps. He went there, it seems, as a victorious messiah of evil.
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:
- Sanjiv Bhatt, the then SP (security), attended several such meetings as staff officer to GC Raiger, additional director general of police (ADGP) (intelligence), but failed to record the instructions he received.
- KN 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.
- 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.
- MK 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- DD 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.
The tragic killings in the fire in coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra were used and manipulated to justify a pre-orchestrated massacre which enjoyed the sanction of the constitutionally elected government in Gujarat
Further corroboration of the unconstitutional meeting: February 27, 2002
Former DGP, Gujarat, RB 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 PC 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 PC Pande had objected to this parading of dead bodies in Ahmedabad but the commissioner’s objections had been overruled 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, IK 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, OP Mathur, the IGP (administration and security).
In this register, Sreekumar documents that on June 7, 2002 PK 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, VR 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 OP Mathur.
Modi was obviously keeping a close watch on any information leaks or dissent within his cabinet or hierarchy of officials.
Conspiracy and abetment to commit multiple offences of murder (Section 120-B, 114 r/w 302 IPC)
Furnishing false information (Section 177 IPC)
Injuring and defiling place of worship (Section 295 IPC)
Outraging religious belief (Section 295-A IPC)
Criminal intimidation (Section 506 IPC)
False statement as evidence (Section 199 IPC)
Giving false information about offences committed (Section 203 IPC)
Obstructing public servant in discharge of duties (Section 186 IPC)
Omission to assist public servant (Section 187 IPC)
Promoting enmity between peoples on grounds of religion (Section 153-A IPC)
Uttering words to wound religious feelings (Section 298 IPC)
Disobeying law with intent to cause injury to any person (Section 166 IPC)
Modi forgives his men
No action was taken against officers like K. Chakravarti, the then DGP, Gujarat, PC Pande, the then CP, Ahmedabad, Ashok Narayan, the then additional chief secretary (home) or a large number of other senior functionaries in the state government for failure to act and control the violence. These are also the officers who filed incomplete, inaccurate and inadequate affidavits before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
More Modi mischief
Ø Modi’s interview to the press in which he quoted Newton’s third law of motion to justify the atrocities against the Muslim community: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."
Ø There was no direction from Modi to Hindu organisations against the observance of a bandh on February 28, 2002.
Ø There was an unnecessary delay in the requisition for and deployment of the army even though anti-minority violence had broken out in the cities of Vadodara, Ahmedabad, etc on the afternoon of February 27 itself.
Modi failed to act against hate writing
No action was taken against the print media for carrying communally inflammatory reports despite the fact that the SIB and some field officers had recommended such action (as noted in Sreekumar’s first affidavit dated July 6, 2002 and during his cross-examination before the Nanavati-Shah Commission on August 31, 2004).
It is the state home department that is empowered to give clearance for initiating action to prosecute the errant media. Modi was Gujarat’s home minister then as he is even today.
More Tehelka revelations on Modi
Ø"To get me out on bail Narendrabhai changed judges thrice." – Babu Bajrangi Patel, Bajrang Dal leader and prime accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre case.
Ø "His rage was great." – Ramesh Dave, sangh diehard.
Ø "He has done what no CM ever has… he openly said that we had three days to do what we could… he said he would not give us time after that." – Haresh Bhatt, Bajrang Dal leader, Godhra.
Ø "Were Modi not a minister, he would have burst bombs." – Arvind Pandya, Gujarat government counsel before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
Ø "Revenge was his promise…" – Rajendra Vyas, VHP Ahmedabad president.
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. PC 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.
Courtesy: deshgujarat.com All the chief minister’s men
Modi’s speeches during the gaurav yatra
Becharaji, Mehsana: Modi makes inflammatory speeches demonising Muslims in his build-up to the 2002 election campaign and then does his best to deny information about the same to the National Commission for Minorities (see box, ‘Tongue of flame’).
Modi ignores state intelligence reports
The Gujarat state intelligence department had sent cautionary and detailed reports to the state home department manned by additional chief secretary, Ashok Narayan, and home minister, Narendra Modi. These were dated April 24, June 15, August 20 and August 28, 2002. No follow-up action was taken by the home department on these reports, copies of which were appended to Sreekumar’s second affidavit dated October 6, 2004 before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
These were not simply ignored by the government. At first, Modi tried to get Sreekumar to redo his reports in accordance with the state government’s ideological interpretation. This was recorded by the former intelligence chief in his personal register. When that did not work, and the ADGP (intelligence) actually provided an independent view to the Chief Election Commission (CEC) and the National Commission for Minorities (on Modi’s speech at Becharaji), Sreekumar was transferred out of this sensitive post.
What did the SIB reports say?
April 24, 2002: This candid five-page appraisal speaks of the strong resentment felt by the Muslim minority, given the disproportionate destruction of Muslim life and property as also the connivance of the state government through its police and law and judiciary department to protect the accused. The report details that "as on April 23, 2002, 636 Muslims were killed in the riots (of these, 91 were killed in police firing) as against 181 Hindus killed (76 in police firing). Nearly 329 Muslims had sustained injuries in arson as against 74 Hindus… Significantly, this trend of loss of life and damage to property is heavily weighted against Muslims in Ahmedabad city where 278 Muslims were killed in riots (including 57 in police firing) as against 91 Hindus (30 in police action). The persons injured in stabbing and arson, etc comes to 408 in Muslims as against 329 Hindu victims of stabbing and arson."
The report details the victim community’s deep animosity towards the police and the state for doctoring FIRs (not registering actual names of the accused) and clubbing together FIRs in order to reduce the magnitude of the crimes, for not seizing the property of Hindu accused arrested for serious non-bailable offences and for the appointment of partisan public prosecutors who belonged to the ruling party and extremist Hindu organisations.
On May 7, 2002 Modi summoned Sreekumar to his office and, on the pretext of asking for his assessment of the continuing violence in Ahmedabad, criticised the intelligence chief’s note of April 24, saying that it had drawn the wrong conclusions based "on partial data and defective presumptions". Modi told Sreekumar that the violence unleashed by Hindu mobs after the Godhra incident on February 27, was a natural, uncontrollable reaction that no police force could control. Sreekumar argued with the chief minister, saying that the authorities could not take such an attitude, especially not the police department whose primary duty was to maintain public order. Modi then became defensive, laying the blame on the DGP and CP, Ahmedabad, who had been given powers, he said, to control the violence. He then asked Sreekumar to concentrate on Muslim militants. Sreekumar urged the chief minister to take steps to restore the confidence of the minority community as outlined by him in his note. This included immediate and concrete steps to arrest the subversion of the criminal justice system, arrest the guilty criminals and initiate confidence building measures between the two communities. Instead of doing this, the police watched silently as VHP and Bajrang Dal criminals openly extorted monies, promoted the economic boycott of Muslim establishments and so on.
Modi was now visibly annoyed at Sreekumar’s suggestions and argued that it was Muslims who were on the offensive. Quoting statistics on high casualties among Muslims due to police firing during the riots, Sreekumar appealed to him to see reason and acknowledge that it was Hindus who were on the offensive. The chief minister instructed him not to concentrate on the sangh parivar, as they were not doing anything illegal. Sreekumar replied that it was his duty to report accurately on any developing situation and provide advance, actionable, preventive, real time intelligence that may have a bearing on public order and the unity and integrity of India even if that meant keeping tabs on the sangh. Understanding the significance of the response, the chief minister tried one last time to throw his weight around. Modi asserted that he (Modi) should be the intelligence chief’s "source" in tracking the sangh parivar and that Sreekumar need not look for sources elsewhere. (It was a clear hint that Sreekumar should not bother to collect data on the sangh parivar.)
The face-off continues
June 15, 2002: The Gujarat state intelligence department gave a detailed and critical report to the state home department advising against the government proposal to allow the annual Jagannath rath yatra and warned that given that sentiments were still raw following the recent widespread violence, there was a possibility of communally volatile situations developing. The intelligence department had also warned of simmering resentment within the minority community which had been at the receiving end of the violence and could mean the risk of attacks on the rath yatra.
June 25, 2002: The chief minister convened a conference of senior officers of and above the rank of SPs from all over the state. In his address to the officers, he asked them all to enforce the law according to their (Modi’s) reading of the situation. In his personal register, Sreekumar observes: "This is unethical and illegal advice because the police department has to work as per law and not according to the political atmosphere prevailing in the state." Sreekumar also records how Modi asked the "police not to be influenced by the JNU brand of secularism." The chief minister’s tacit message was that police officers should function as committed ideologues of the ruling party and not soldiers of the Indian Constitution.
August 20, 2002: Following a telephonic request from PS Shah, additional secretary (law and order), on August 20, 2002, the SIB submitted its own independent review of the law and order situation in the state. It is obvious that the state government was seeking acquiescence to enable it to justify its decision on July 19, 2002 to dissolve the state assembly and call for immediate elections.
In this report, the SIB observes that:
a) Incidents were reported from "993 villages and 151 towns covering 284 police stations (out of 464 police stations) spread over 54 assembly constituencies out of 182 assembly constituencies."
b) The communal divide between the Hindus and Muslims had widened to an unprecedented degree. The interaction between the two communities was practically negligible in social, commercial, financial and cultural fields. Large sections of the minorities, being the major victims in the recent riots, were still to develop adequate faith in the administration, police department and criminal justice system. The minorities also continued to complain that many rioters belonging to the Hindu community had not been arrested, as they held important positions in Hindu organisations.
c) The minorities were also dejected about non-implementation of most of the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Minorities. They were also upset about the fact that of the 302 dargahs, 209 mosques and 30 madrassas damaged during the riots, only a handful had been repaired and restored to their original condition.
d) In many places, riots victims belonging to the minority community could not restart their commercial activities, or the small businesses they ran before the riots, due to a constant feeling of insecurity. In one incident that took place as late as July 4, 2002, a (Muslim) man and his son were murdered upon their return to their hometown in Vadodara district.
e) An estimated 75,500 persons from 13 districts had been shifted to other places and had yet to return home. If elections were to be held in this heightened atmosphere of insecurity, these persons would remain practically disenfranchised in the event of an election being held before their return to their hometowns. According to information that was received, interested political parties would in all probability collect such persons in large numbers and insist upon their voting rights on polling day. This would lead to confrontations between rival political groups and a resultant disruption of public order.
‘The chief minister, Narendra Modi, took an active role along with at least three cabinet colleagues to instruct senior police personnel and civil administrators that a Hindu reaction was to be expected and this must not be curtailed or controlled’
f) During the communal riots 10,472 houses, 12,588 shops and 2,724 larri/gallas were damaged or destroyed due to arson while 1,333 shops were ransacked. In this process thousands of people have lost all their documents of identity. Unless prompt remedial measures were taken, they would also pose a problem with regard to their re-enumeration as electors and subsequently, in exercising their franchise.
g) With so many persons having fled, it was unlikely that the elections would be free or fair.
August 28, 2002: In another report on the law and order scenario, the SIB once again details the atmosphere of mistrust and suspicion between communities and the danger posed by the propagation of fundamentalist literature on both sides that could widen the gulf. Hence it advises that the state home department issue specific instructions to district collectors/district magistrates ordering them to take strict action against the projection of communal issues in the campaign and to rigorously observe the law and guidelines on assembly of persons so as to avoid any clashes.
Additional chief secretary (home), Ashok Narayan, took exception to the SIB’s assessment, as reflected in deputy inspector general of police (DIG) E. Radhakrishna’s report of August 28, 2002 where he questions Sreekumar on this. Sreekumar replies on August 30, 2002. He states that the Election Commission of India has observed that SIB appraisal of the communal situation was in consonance with the inputs received by the commission as evident from its order dated August 16, 2002. In response to Narayan’s query on "whether the SIB’s assessment was based only on the input from some of your field officers or the input from other government officials and others connected with the administration of the state were taken into consideration", Sreekumar replies that the SIB assessment was "based on the intelligence gathered by SIB functionaries, including senior officers, and also data received from jurisdictional police officers. We did not collect any data from any non-police departmental sources."
Modi misleads CEC
The Gujarat state home department gave the CEC misleading reports about the ‘normalcy’ in the state in a crude bid to push for early assembly elections, riding high on a massacre. SIB chief, Sreekumar gave an opinion contrary to the "official version" in early August 2002. The assessment of the Gujarat state home department was adjudged to be false by the EC in its order dated August 16, 2002. Modi, as home minister, headed this department.
In his personal register, Sreekumar records that he was directed by home department officials to give favourable reports about the law and order situation so as to facilitate the holding of early elections. He chose instead to follow his conscience.
Modi’s government lies to the NHRC
The Modi government failed to create a situation conducive to the rehabilitation of riot victims notwithstanding its claims to the contrary in reports to the NHRC. Instead, the riot victims were pressurised to compromise with the perpetrators of the violence as a condition precedent to their safe return and rehabilitation.
Shah Alam Relief Camp
Ruthless suppression of evidence
On July 20, 2004, faced with a hostile government in New Delhi which had threatened to set up a parallel central commission of inquiry into the genocidal carnage of 2002, the Modi government expanded the terms of reference of the Nanavati-Shah Commission. The second term of reference requested the commission inter alia to inquire into the "role and conduct of the then chief minister (Narendra Modi) or any other ministers in his council of ministers, police officers, other individuals and organisations" relating "to the facts, circumstances and course of events of the subsequent incidents in the aftermath of the Godhra incidents."
But this was obviously a mere formality, meant only to appease the public. It is odd that the Nanavati-Shah Commission did not insist that the commission’s terms of reference be honoured by the state government and its representatives. RB Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma were among the few who deposed on this critical question. Meanwhile, senior officials who are also accused in this complaint conspired with Modi and his men to suppress the truth about 2002.
The following persons are conspicuous for their role in suppressing key evidence:
1. Ashok Narayan, the then additional chief secretary (home).
2. PK Mishra, the then principal secretary to the chief minister.
3. K. Chakravarti, the then DGP, Gujarat.
4. K. Nityanandam, the then home secretary.
5. PC Pande, the then CP, Ahmedabad.
6. KR Kaushik, in his capacity as ADGP (crime), supervising investigations into the Godhra train fire, and later, as CP, Ahmedabad, in May, 2002.
7. AK Bhargava, the then ADGP (administration) and later, DGP, Gujarat.
8. Maniram, the then ADGP (law and order), in charge of maintaining law and order across the entire state during the protracted riots in 2002.
9. GC Raiger, the then ADGP (intelligence), during the crucial period of the Gujarat riots i.e. from February 27 to April 9, 2002. He was among those who attended secret meetings convened by the chief minister, the chief secretary and additional chief secretary, Ashok Narayan.
Modi intimidates his officials: Do not tell the truth before the commission
Modi misused his power and the office of chief minister to pressurise and intimidate his officials into withholding critical evidence and not testifying before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
The complaint quotes extensively from the affidavits of the then ADGP, Sreekumar, regarding the manner in which he was asked to withhold evidence and falsely testify before the commission.
After newspapers carried reports on Sreekumar’s first affidavit dated July 6, 2002, which he filed before the Nanavati-Shah Commission in mid-2002, the chief minister used his clout, and marshalled the services of senior IPS officers, to approach the ADGP with clear attempts to pressurise him into giving false evidence before a commission of inquiry set up under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1952 in the public interest.
On August 21, 2004 a middle-level officer in the home department, the then undersecretary (budget and coordination), Dinesh Kapadia, tried to persuade Sreekumar, who was to appear before the commission on August 31, to give a deposition favourable to the government. Kapadia told Sreekumar that no purpose would be served by telling the truth before the commission since its recommendations would not be accepted and said that all commissions were paper tigers. Three days after this endeavour, one that had obviously been carried out with Modi’s blessings, GC Murmu, the then secretary (law and order), home department, summoned the ADGP. On the evening of August 24, 2004 a "briefing session for tutoring Sreekumar" was held.
Murmu was ably aided and abetted in this illegal effort by Arvind Pandya, advocate for the Gujarat government before the commission. They directed this police officer to avoid making any statements that could embarrass the government. They stressed that they had similarly briefed all witnesses i.e. government officials on how to depose before the commission without harming the Gujarat government’s interests. When Sreekumar did not oblige, he was threatened... if he gave a statement that went against the interests of the state government, he would be declared a hostile witness and dealt with suitably later.
Sreekumar taped this blatantly illegal effort and has appended the tape and its transcript to his third affidavit before the commission.
Modi has protected the accused, had the evidence tampered with or destroyed, worked hard to ensure the impotence of the Nanavati-Shah Commission and subverted the justice process. In fact, having presided over the genocidal pogrom, he is now misusing his powers to ensure that justice is not done
This briefing and the directives issued by Murmu and Pandya were patent efforts to intimidate a witness and tamper with evidence, both of which are serious offences under the Indian Penal Code. Moreover, these actions were in total violation of the letter and spirit of the terms of reference of the commission as specified in the government notifications dated March 6, 2002 and July 20, 2004. In these notifications, the state legal department among other things stressed on inquiring into the "role and conduct of the then chief minister or any other ministers in his council of ministers, police officers, other individuals and organisations" in the Godhra and post-Godhra violence.
Instead of encouraging officers to assist the commission in arriving at the truth behind the collapse of law and order and the pogrom against Gujarat’s Muslims, at this in camera meeting attempts were made to influence and intimidate a senior officer of the Indian Police Service and a prime witness before the commission. He was being directed, at Modi’s behest, to lie under oath and avoid telling the whole truth.
Needless to say, Sreekumar refused to comply with these unlawful demands. Retribution came swiftly, however. He was denied his rightful promotion to the top police post in the state even as vicious attempts were made to charge-sheet him. He was separately charge-sheeted for sharing confidential government records before an inquiry commission investigating the cause of the outbreak of violence in 2002 and the persons responsible for it. He fought both cases and emerged vindicated. A day before his retirement on February 28, 2009 he was reinstated as DGP and thus retired in the very post that his vengeful political bosses had sought to deny him.
These are the instructions that Sreekumar received from the government’s emissaries:
1. Conceal the facts before the commission.
2. Accept the conspiracy theory with regard to the fire in coach-6 of the Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002.
3. Do not reveal any data on acts of omission and commission by government functionaries and other senior officers.
4. Avoid any comment on the government’s inaction on reports he had submitted as ADGP (intelligence) from February to September 2002.
5. Do not provide additional facts which could result in the commission summoning more government functionaries for deposition.
6. He was warned that he would be made answerable to government through a departmental inquiry if he deposed in a manner contrary to the Gujarat government’s interests.
7. The duo also made critical remarks about the Supreme Court.
8. Undesirable comments were also made about the Gujarat high court.
9. Sreekumar was told that officers like him should be committed to the interests of the government, even at the cost of adherence to truth and so on.
It is unlikely that Murmu and Pandya acted on their own initiative. Two years after the carnage, the message they carried was clear. Conceal the truth about 2002 or else… Such intimidation by representatives of the government is unlikely to have occurred without Modi’s blessings.
Intimidation of witnesses
Over the past seven-and-a-half-years the discreet and overt intimidation of witnesses continues under the current Gujarat dispensation.
Contempt of the justice process
Despite recommendations by the CBI, which investigated the Bilkees Bano case, the state’s home department under Narendra Modi did not initiate departmental action against Jadeja, the then SP of Dahod district, for gross misconduct and destruction of evidence in this case. Aided by state-appointed doctors, the police officer had worked hard to destroy evidence of the murder of Bilkees’s daughter, Saleha, and sought to bury her body without proper investigations.
In August 2004, almost five years ago, Rahul Sharma submitted a critical piece of evidence, a CD containing the cellphone call records of BJP leaders and senior police officials, to the Nanavati-Shah Commission. It was only in 2008-2009, after the Supreme Court had appointed the SIT headed by Dr RK Raghavan, that some of these call records were verified by the SIT and the roles of influential accused in the Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society cases (whose names had mysteriously vanished from the charge sheets) were exposed. In the two years prior to 2004 the investigating officers in these cases simply did not probe into the contents of this CD, which clearly suggests that they had received clear-cut instructions not to investigate the role of ministers, MLAs and leaders of the VHP and Bajrang Dal in the violence.
Slack review of 2,000 cases
Review of the 2,000-odd post-Godhra riot cases, as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2004, was conducted in a slack and unprofessional manner. This was achieved by entrusting the job to those senior officers who were either willing or constrained to act in accordance with the partisan interests of the BJP and the chief minister.
2004: Indictment by the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court severely indicted the Gujarat government and the high court for the injustices done to the minority community and riot victims in the investigation of riot cases. The apex court transferred two cases, the Bilkees Bano case and the Best Bakery case, out of Gujarat, to Maharashtra.
The Gujarat government under Narendra Modi is guilty of betraying prejudice against riot victims belonging to the minority community, as revealed by Rahul Sharma, the then SP, Bhavnagar, during his cross-examination before the Nanavati-Shah Commission in 2004. He stated under oath that the then home minister, Gordhan Zadaphiya, reprimanded him for taking action against a mob that was about to set fire to a madrassa with 400 children inside.
Further indictment by the Supreme Court
Amit Shah, the then minister of state for home, along with Madhu Srivastava, a sitting MLA (formerly BJP) from Vadodara, influenced the key witness, Zahira Shaikh, and her immediate family while the Best Bakery trial was underway in Gujarat. After she fled to Gujarat in October-November 2004 (while the retrial was on in Mumbai) Shaikh was given commando protection and secretly housed at the Silver Oak club in Gandhinagar, which was closed to all other guests. Allegations were hurled at me (Teesta Setalvad, as secretary of CJP) and I approached the apex court for an impartial inquiry. On August 25, 2005 a report by the registrar general exonerated me completely and instead accused Zahira Shaikh of being bribed by Madhu Srivastava. But the Gujarat government under Narendra Modi initiated no action against Srivastava who was found guilty by the Supreme Court’s registrar general of intimidating and bribing witnesses.
2005: Mass graves dug up in Lunawada
After trying for three years to locate the remains of their near and dear ones, victim survivors of the Pandharwada and Kidiad massacres unearthed, in December 2005, the remains of their loved ones who had been illegally dumped in forest wasteland near the Paanam river outside Lunawada town. The Gujarat high court ordered the human remains to be sent for DNA testing and analysis, to be carried out at the forensic laboratory at Red Hill, Hyderabad, under CBI supervision. Overnight an FIR was registered against the victim survivors for illegal digging and they had to give their blood samples under threat of arrest. Instead of showing concern for relatives searching for the remains of their lost ones, the administration was vindictive. Seven months later the test results showed that samples from nine body remains matched the DNA samples taken from relatives of the massacre victims. Yet, three-and-a-half years later, the remains of those who were killed have still not been handed over to the victim survivors. In late 2007 CJP approached the Supreme Court for a directive that would enable quick access to the remains, which are still lying in Hyderabad, in order to ensure speedy burial. The apex court only directed CJP to approach the trial court in Godhra.
2006: Best Bakery retrial
The judgement of the Mumbai fast track trial court in the Best Bakery case sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment and also indicted senior police officials in Gujarat for their conduct during the trial, which amounted to suppression of evidence. These include the then CP, Vadodara, Deepak Swaroop, the IG (intelligence), K. Kumarswami and PI Pargi, who recorded doctored statements from the hostile witnesses while they were state guests of the Gujarat government!
2008: Bilkees Bano judgement
Judgement was pronounced by the Mumbai fast track court investigating the Bilkees Bano case where a total of 12 people were convicted, 11 of them being sentenced to life imprisonment. The 12 include three officers of the Gujarat police who were convicted for suppression of evidence. Speaking to the press after the judgement was read, Bilkees Bano said that she was still not safe in Gujarat.
The fact that the victims of the 2002 genocidal pogrom were predominantly from the Muslim community indicates that the criminals who committed the crimes and officers of the police and administration who were directed by politicians in power all worked together in pursuance of a conspiracy, to achieve the objectives and design of the chief minister, Narendra Modi.
The offences detailed in the complaint now being investigated by the SIT are wide-ranging and extremely grave. They establish prima facie that the accused number one had violated and is violating his oath of allegiance to the Constitution of India. Modi has done this by shaping the narrative of the Godhra train fire into one of preplanned conspiracy thus creating a climate conducive to "Hindu revenge". In short, he has, through the illegal use of the human and material resources at his command in a constitutionally elected post, protected the accused, had the evidence tampered with or destroyed, worked hard to ensure the impotence of the Nanavati-Shah Commission and subverted the justice process. In fact, having presided over the genocidal pogrom, he is now misusing his powers to ensure that justice is not done.
How far this investigation goes is a robust test for the Indian system.
Archived from Communalism Combat, May 2009 Year 15 No.140, Cover Story 2