SIT report indicts Modi over 2002 Gujarat riots

By TCN Staff Writer,

New Delhi: The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team has indicted Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the 2002 riots. The SIT has concluded that the meeting Modi called at his residence in Gandhinagar on the night of 27th Feb. 2002 after returning from the Godhra train burning site incited Hindu mobs to vent their anger.

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Tehelka magazine has scooped 600-page Godhra SIT enquiry report into Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 massacre in which 2000 people mostly Muslims were killed by the Hindu mobs backed by police and ruling politicians.

Tehelka’s Editor Investigation, Ashish Khetan has scooped the sensational enquiry report by the Supreme Court constituted Special Investigations Team into Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 pogrom, the magazine disclosed it in a press statement this evening.

This damning report — published as Tehelka’s cover story “The Smoking Gun” in the current issue of the magazine, volume 8, issue 6 — which also has Modi’s ten hour long deposition blows craters into the BJP propaganda that the SIT had exonerated Modi and vindicated his handling of the 2002 riots.

Here are a few of its key findings:

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) SIT chairman RK Raghvan 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 Chairman’s comments)

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 Chairman’s comments).

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 tops 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.

But the SIT has concluded the report by saying that the above allegations which have been found to be true can’t be further investigated under the law. By doing so SIT has hinted at the lack of adequate legal provisions to punish government functionaries guilty of adding and abetting communal massacres as the conspiracy is hatched at highest levels and no documents of evidentiary value like minutes of the meetings or explicit orders are recorded or left behind.

At the same time SIT has listed the constraints and difficulties faced in the probe and has said that it was a mere fact-finding exercise and not an investigation under the CrPC which would given the SIT teeth and legal powers to carry out a full- fledged investigation.

SIT has also said that no police officer or bureaucrat was ready to speak up against the Chief Minister as most of them have been accommodated in lucrative post-retirement assignments.

The SIT has now put the ball in the court of 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.