Nanavati panel summons phone call details

Ahmedabad, Sep 29 (IANS) The Nanavati-Shah inquiry commission probing the 2002 Godhra riots Saturday directed two mobile service providers to give call details of Gujarat ministers, police officials, legislators as well as of Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the sectarian violence.

The call records demanded relate to the period Feb 25 to March 2004. The commission has granted a week’s time to comply with the order.

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Following the order, the two mobile service providers – AT&T and Cellforce (now Vodofone) – will have to give call details of as many as 43 mobile phones including those of cabinet ministers Ashok Bhatt, I.K. Jadeja, MLA Maya Kodnani and Gordhan Zadaphia, who was home minister at that time. Zadaphia has since been suspended by the party and is one of the five rebel leaders who are anti-Modi.

The commission order also means that phone records of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadida, who is accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre in which 88 people were burnt alive, and Babu Bajrangi of Bajrang Dal, who has since joined the Shiv Sena, will also be given.

“The data of these mobile phones will expose the collusion between politicians, police officials and rioters,” advocate Mukul Sinha said on behalf of Jan Sangharsh Manch, the NGO representing a section of riot-affected families before the commission.

The Gujarat government has repeatedly contested the “authenticity” of the compact discs purportedly containing data of phone calls during the riots submitted to the commission by an IPS officer Rahul Sharma.

“The data given by the companies can be compared with those in the CDs provided by Rahul Sharma and we can know for sure if the CDs submitted by him are authentic,” Justice Nanavati said.

He said that the commission would also conduct an inquiry into the whereabouts of the original CDs that Sharma (who was a supervisory officer in the Naroda Patiya case during the riots) had acquired from the mobile operators for investigations into the case.

The 2002 riots had left over 1,000 people dead in the state.