AHMEDABAD/NEW DELHI: The post-Godhra 2002 riots returned to haunt, Mr Narendra Modi with a senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officer alleging the Gujarat Chief Minister had instructed officers to allow Hindus “to vent out their anger” during the clashes and he wanted Muslims to be “taught a lesson.”
Mr Sanjeev Bhatt made the allegation implicating Mr Modi in the riots in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on April 14, in which he has also accused the Apex Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), of a “cover-up” operation. The SIT is also probing the Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart’s alleged role in the communal riots.
Reacting to Mr Bhat’s allegation, Gujarat government spokesman, Mr Jainarayan Vyas described the affidavit as a view that has been expressed. But, it can only be said “either correct or wrong” once it passes through the entire process of adjudication, he observed.
Mr Bhatt, the 1988-batch IPS officer who was posted as DCP at the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) during the 2002 riots, said in the affidavit that he had attended the February 27 meeting called by Mr Modi where he asked officers to be “indifferent” to the rioters.
“The chief minister Narendra Modi said that the bandh call (on February 28, 2002 following the death of 58 karsevaks in Godhra train buring incident) has already been given and the party had decided to support the same, as incidents like the burning of karsevaks at Godhra could not be tolerated,” Mr Bhatt had told the SIT about the meeting during his interrogation in November 2009 as per his affidavit.
“This time the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again,” Mr Modi had stated as per Mr Bhatt’s affidavit. The Chief Minister further said that Gujarat police had been following the principle of balancing the actions against the Hindus and Muslims while dealing with the communal riots.
“The chief minister Narendra Modi expressed the view that the emotions were running very high amongst the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent out their anger,” Mr Bhatt said in his affidavit. Mr Bhatt is presently posted as principal of the State Reserve Police (SRP) training centre in Junagadh district.
However, in his testimony before the SIT, Mr Modi said Mr Bhatt being a junior officer at that time was not present in the February 27 meeting.
Targeting the SIT headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief, Mr R K Raghavan, Mr Bhatt said that he had filed the affidavit “to bring on record disquieting aspects and inadequacies in the manner and approach of the SIT” which he had personally experienced during the interaction with the agency.
Mr Bhatt said after facing ‘unconcealed hostility’ by the SIT members he was under the apprehensions that the agency was part of the cover-up operations with regard to the probe in riot cases.
Stating that he had serious and well-founded apprehensions regarding his own safety and the safety and security of his family members, he urged the Apex Court to direct the authorities concerned, to provide adequate and fool-proof security cover to him and his family.
“Given the overall demeanor of the SIT officials while dealing with these crucial aspects of ongoing investigation, I believe it is my painful duty to bring to notice of the court that the SIT does not appear to be living up to the enormous trust reposed in it by the Supreme Court, to conduct an impartial and thorough probe into the allegation of a larger conspiracy and administrative complicity behind the Gujarat riots of 2002,” Mr Bhatt said in the affidavit. Mr Bhatt has further accused the SIT of hostility and coercing of witnesses while probing the Gulburg Society case relating to 2002 riots.
The officer also expressed surprise over how his affidavit, which is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court on April 27 along with other matters relating to the 2002 communal riots, got leaked to the media. Mr Bhatt has directly filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court, by-passing the SIT to investigate the complaint of Ms Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Ahsan Jaffery, who was burnt alive by a rioting mob at his house.