Some basic questions the SIT needs to answer

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1.Why didn’t the SIT investigate the motive behind the positioning of health and housing ministers in the police control rooms?
On 28 February 2002, as riots erupted, two Cabinet ministers — Ashok Bhatt and IK Jadeja — and their political staff were positioned in police control rooms. The police failed to respond to calls for help by victims. Ashok Bhatt’s phone records show he was in touch with VHP leader Jaideep Patel, a key conspirator of the Naroda massacre. Police officers such as Sanjiv Bhatt had objected to the ministers’ presence and their attempts to seek sensitive information like deployment of police in different regions.

Contradictory statements about these developments were given to the SIT by then DGP K Chakravarthi, then Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Ashok Narayan and deputy home minister Gordhan Zadaphia. Chief Minister Narendra Modi denied that he had anything to do with their presence in control rooms. The SIT failed to push towards harder investigation.


Photo: AFP

2. Why is the SIT so hell-bent on discrediting two most crucial witnesses against Modi — Sanjiv Bhatt and RB Sreekumar?
The SIT used specious and illogical arguments to disprove Bhatt’s (above) testimony, despite serious disagreements of the amicus curiae. More diabolically, the SIT went out of its way to disregard a mountain of evidence presented by RB Sreekumar, who was the additional DG of the State Intelligence Bureau in 2002-03. His reports chronicled intelligence inputs showing that riot victims were persecuted, police officers were dissuading victims from lodging complaints against BJP and VHP members, officers were watering down the charges against rioters, the VHP and Bajrang Dal were exhorting businesses not to employ Muslims. Inspectors in charge of police stations were ignoring their superiors and complying instead with verbal instructions from BJP leaders.


Photo: AFP

3. Why was it first reported that the wireless communications had been destroyed and then later presented before the SIT by PC Pande, the Ahmedabad top cop at the time of the riots? 
The SIT report dated 12 May 2010 said: “The Gujarat government has reportedly destroyed the police wireless communication of the period pertaining to the riots.” It further said, “No records, documentations or minutes of the crucial law and order meetings held by the government during the riots had been kept.” It is now reported that after the amicus curiae recommended a statutory investigation in January 2011, the former Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police PC Pande (below) appeared before the SIT and mysteriously produced some of the missing call records. What do these records show?

 


Photo: AFP

4. Why didn’t the SIT investigate the role of saffron brigade members who were appointed as public prosecutors to subvert the criminal justice system? 
SIT Chairman Raghavan told the apex court: “It has been found that a few of the appointees were in fact politically connected, either to the ruling party or organisations sympathetic to it.” The same report also said that, “It appears that the political affiliation of the advocates did weigh with the government for the appointment of public prosecutors.” TEHELKA, in its sting operation in 2007, and NGOs like Citizens for Justice and Peace had in detail chronicled how public prosecutors affiliated to the VHP and RSS were threatening or bribing riot witnesses to ensure that many of the accused were acquitted. But the SIT, in a shocking move, told the court that it was difficult to find instances of criminal mischief by these public prosecutors.


5. Why is the SIT reluctant to prosecute cops like MK Tandon and PB Gondia for their criminal negligence? 
Tandon and Gondia could unravel the larger conspiracy behind the riots. The former was the Joint Commissioner of Police, Sector 2, Ahmedabad, and the latter was DCP, Zone IV, deputy to Tandon at the time. It was on their watch that the most gruesome massacres like Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society occurred. The SIT has found that Tandon deliberately didn’t respond to distress calls from Gulberg Society and Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya and instead got bogus cases registered in other parts of Ahmedabad to justify his absence from Naroda and Gulberg Society. The SIT has also noted that Tandon was in telephonic contact with Jaideep Patel and Mayaben Kodnani — the accused in massacres at Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya. Still, the SIT has only recommended departmental action against the two. Is there a fear that if the duo is arraigned, they might spill the beans about the involvement of the political leadership?


Photo: Shailendra Pandey

6. Why has the SIT failed to join the dots behind the shunting out of non-partisan cops and undue rewards granted to those officers whose dereliction engendered the massacres? 
The SIT report presented to the Supreme Court records how compliant police officers were rewarded. It also records how upright police officers were punished for preventing riots. Rahul Sharma (above), Vivek Srivastava, Himanshu Bhatt and Satish Verma were some of the officers who were shunted out to non-consequential postings. On the other hand, the officers who allowed riots to fester were rewarded with lucrative postings. Though the SIT has admitted that these transfers appear “unusual” and “fishy”, it has refused to probe further by saying that transfers and postings are the prerogatives of the state government.

Ashish Khetan is Editor, Investigations with Tehelka. 
[email protected]

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