Refutes claim of the ex-MoS (Home) that he was not apprised of the post-Godhra violence

The suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, has refuted former Gujarat Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadaphia's claim that he was not kept “informed” of the gruesome incidents in Ahmedabad in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage on February 28, 2002. He also denied that Mr. Jhadaphia was not aware of the Gujarat administration's decision to bring the charred bodies from Godhra to Ahmedabad for being taken to the victims' native places for cremation.

Claim

Mr. Bhatt claimed that as Deputy Commissioner of the State Intelligence Bureau then, he too had collected mobile phone call records and they tallied with the one collected by another IPS officer Rahul Sharma that was submitted before various authorities, which showed the presence of Mr. Jhadaphia in the vicinity of Ahmedabad on that fateful day.

Mr. Jhadaphia reportedly made the claims during his second “in-camera” appearance earlier this week before the G. T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission probing the train carnage and the post-Godhra riots. Mr. Jhadaphia claimed that on the “Gujarat Bandh” day on February 28, when minorities were brutally killed in Naroda-Patiya and Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad, he was in Gandhinagar for the entire day as the State Assembly was in session.

In his first “in-camera” deposition too in November, 2010, copies of which were made public by the commission recently, Mr. Jhadaphia had maintained that on February 27, 2002, on hearing about the train carnage, he left for Godhra in the afternoon and was there till about 3 a.m. the next day when he left for Gandhinagar.

On the way he stopped at his residence in Ahmedabad for just half-an-hour early in the morning to collect his clothes. In both ‘in-camera' depositions, he had claimed that though he was Minister of State for Home then and was allowed reasonable freedom to act as per the situation, he was not kept informed of the riot situation in Ahmedabad and other parts of the State.

Pleaded ignorance

Mr. Jhadaphia also claimed that the mobile phone call list submitted before the commission by Mr. Rahul Sharma was “faulty” if it showed the presence of his mobile phone number in the vicinity of Naroda-Patiya or Gulberg Society.

He did not come to Ahmedabad the entire day. He, however, admitted having spoken to some of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders such as Mayaben Kodnani and Jaideep Patel, both accused in the Naroda-Patiya massacre, but could not recall in what connection he had spoken to them.

Not defending anyone: Jhadaphia

While refusing to disclose what transpired during his deposition before the commission, Mr. Jhadaphia later told the mediapersons that he was “neither defending anyone nor levelling false allegations against anyone.”

He claimed that he was only revealing the “truth” known to him as Minister of State for Home.

Mr. Jhadaphia's deposition disappointed the critics of Chief Minister Narendra Modi who expected the former Minister to “spill the beans” as he had since developed strong differences with Mr. Modi and quit the BJP to form his own Mahagujarat Janata Party just before the 2007 State Assembly elections.

In a letter to the commission on Saturday, Mr. Bhatt disputed Mr. Jhadaphia's claims and submitted copies of the departmental notes signed by him as Deputy Commissioner in the Intelligence Bureau on the decisions to bring the bodies to Ahmedabad from Godhra, the VHP giving a call for a “Gujarat Bandh” with likely repercussions on the communal situation in the State and the building up of violent mobs in Gulberg Society putting the lives of the former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri and others in danger.

He said all the notes were sent to the Chief Minister, Director-General of Police and the Police Commissioners of various cities with a copy marked to Mr. Jhadaphia.

On the situation in the Gulberg Society, Mr. Bhatt submitted copies of several notes, first when the mob build-up started and again after the threat to the lives of Jafri and others, prompting the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner to rush adequate force. Mr. Bhatt requested the commission to ensure that the relevant records and documents were not destroyed by the State administration.

The commission has summoned Mr. Jhadaphia for cross-examination on January 13.