Call records lend weight to Sanjiv Bhatt's claimed presence at meeting with Modi

Telephone records accessed by The Hindu lend credence to a crucial affidavit filed by a journalist backing senior police officer Sanjiv Bhatt's claim to have attended the controversial 2002 meeting at Narendra Modi's residence where the Gujarat Chief Minister allegedly said Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger against Muslims in the wake of the Godhra carnage.

The records show Mr. Bhatt and the journalist, former BBC correspondent Shubhranshu Chaudhary, were at roughly the same location and talking to each other before the February 27, 2002 meeting between Mr. Modi and the State's top cops.

Mr. Bhatt has claimed — in depositions before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and in an affidavit — that he was present at the meeting and had heard the Gujarat Chief Minister instruct his officials to allow “revenge” attacks against Muslims. However, the SIT dismissed Mr. Bhatt as an unreliable witness and said none of the officials present at the meeting confirmed having seen him there. With Mr. Bhatt's presence itself in dispute, no credence could be attached to his account of what happened at the meeting, the SIT concluded.

The SIT, however, never examined Mr. Chaudhary, whose affidavit says Mr. Bhatt left an interview with him to go to Mr. Modi's residence that night.

Talking to The Hindu, Mr. Chaudhary recalled his own meeting with Mr. Bhatt at his home late in the evening on February 27, 2002. His version of events — portions of which are contained in an affidavit he has filed in the Supreme Court — is that he reached Ahmedabad that evening. He immediately fixed up to meet Mr. Bhatt, and after finding out the location of his house on phone, reached there around 9 p.m. At 9.30 p.m., Mr. Bhatt hurried out saying he had been summoned to attend a meeting at the Chief Minister's residence.

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