AT AROUND 6pm on March 2, 2002, in Bhavnagar district’s Ghogha Road, over 200 Muslim children were sheltering in a madarsa when a Hindu mob descended on it, baying for blood. Rahul Sharma, then Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police (SP), ordered his troops to open fire. The mob dispersed, the children were saved.
Over the next two weeks, after the Bhavnagar incident, the police took similarly courageous action at a few other places. By March 16, eight people had been killed in police firing in Bhavnagar district; five were Hindu, two Muslim. Timely intervention kept the district more or less free of killings. On March 16, however, at 10:10am, Sharma received a call from then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia.
“Zadaphia said that while I had done a good job, the ratio of those who died in the police firing was not proper — he was complaining about there being more Hindu deaths than Muslim. I told him things would depend on the ground situation and the nature of the mob,” Sharma said in his deposition before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
Sharma also told the Commission that when he had called up then Director General of Police K. Chakravarty on March 1, 2002, at around 10:20pm, to request the deployment of additional forces in Bhavnagar, the DGP had said that “though he would send one State Reserve Police Force company the next morning, I should not expect more help as the bureaucracy had been completely compromised.”
The two conversations Rahul Sharma had with Zadaphia and the Director General of Police provide ample indication of the role the majority of the police force played during the 2002 massacre, joining ranks with the mobs that were setting Gujarat on fire. From egging on murderous hordes to go for the kill, to supplying them with ammunition, to transporting bombs between districts, to opening fire at Muslims who were already under attack from Hindu rioters — the police facilitated the massacre in every possible way.
Here are some firsthand accounts from the rioters and conspirators of the help they received from sections of the police in the nightmare days when the upholders of law turned into rioters in uniform.