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Updated: April 23, 2011 16:43 IST

Police officer's charge against Narendra Modi also raises questions about SIT

Special Correspondent
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Narendra Modi. File Photo: P.V. Sivakumar
The Hindu
Narendra Modi. File Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

He chronicles the lack of interest displayed by the court-appointed team

Senior police officer Sanjiv Bhatt's affidavit accusing Narendra Modi of instructing the state police brass to allow rioters to “teach a lesson” to the Muslims is the first incriminating eyewitness account of that controversial February 27, 2002 meeting to reach the courts. Haren Pandya, a Minister in the Modi government at that time, gave a similar account of the Chief Minister's remarks to a citizen's tribunal soon after the riots but was assassinated – allegedly by “jihadi” terrorists – before he could make a proper legal deposition.

Going by his affidavit, Mr. Bhatt, too, appears worried about the consequences of knowing too much. In his plea to the Supreme Court, he chronicles the lack of interest displayed by the court-appointed SIT in what he has to say, its systematic attempts to undermine his testimony by intimidating witnesses who have testified to his presence at the meeting, and the State government's refusal to provide him security despite his plea that the “deliberate leaking” of his testimony to the SIT had made him a marked man.

Mr. Bhatt's affidavit, filed in the Supreme Court following the SIT's probe into Zakia Jaffrey's complaint that the anti-Muslim riots were officially orchestrated, states that as Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence he had attended many meetings convened by the Chief Minister and other “high constitutional functionaries” before and after the February 27 meeting and therefore was privy to secret and classified information. He, however, was in no position to disclose the information unless required to do so under a “binding legal obligation.” It was because of this reason that he remained silent on the issue till he was asked to depose by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT probing the massacres.

Mr. Bhatt, however, expressed strong resentment over the functioning of the SIT and its “attempt to cover the issue of large conspiracy and the administrative complicity.”

He said that during his March 25 deposition, when he tried to bring up the issue of the “larger conspiracy and official orchestration” and the attempts to cover up the issues behind the riots, he faced “unconcealed hostility” from the members of the SIT.

He said he had given the names of some witnesses who could corroborate his presence in the meeting with the Chief Minister. “I was hopeful that this information would be gone into thoroughly by the SIT to unravel the true nature of events that transpired. However, the SIT has chosen to intimidate some of the witnesses and coerce them into refraining from stating the true facts” giving an impression that the SIT itself had become a party to the cover-up operations.

He said he had named K.D. Panth, an Assistant Intelligence Officer with the State Intelligence Bureau in 2002, who would substantiate his claim of being present at the February 27 meeting. But Mr. Panth later told him that he was summoned by the SIT on April 5, but was “virtually treated like an accused and was threatened with arrest and other dire consequences.” He believed that other witnesses named by him were also similarly coerced and threatened by the SIT. Mr. Bhatt said he had written to SIT chairman R.K. Raghavan about these matters on April 6.

Mr. Bhatt's affidavit states that the first time he was summoned by the SIT was in November, 2009, when he had provided it certain relevant information and documents including original floppy discs of phone call records of Godhra town and print outs of phone call records of some high ranking State functionaries from February 26 to 28.

He said he had also provided the SIT “verifiable details” regarding the “on-going cover-up operations” including the “contemporaneous efforts” made by the high officials of the State administration to undermine the proceedings before the court. He said he had “time and again” tried to bring these facts to the notice of the SIT but “they seem to be disinclined to follow up these important leads in the course of the investigation.”

The affidavit said, “given the overall demeanour of the SIT officials while dealing with the crucial aspects of the on-going investigation, I believe it is to be my painful duty to bring to the notice of this Hon'ble 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 allegations of larger conspiracy and administrative complicity behind the Gujarat riots of 2002.”

He said he was again summoned by the SIT in March, this year, for deposition in connection with the Gulberg Society massacre as part of Ms. Jaffrey's petition before the Supreme Court. He said despite insisting that the subsequent course of the communal violence could be fully appreciated only in the light of the “directions” given by the Chief Minister on the night of February 27 meeting, he was told by the SIT that all these aspects could not be gone into as his statement was being recorded only in the context of the Gulberg Society case. He said it was only after he told investigators that the procedural constraints on their part defeated the very purpose of “ascertaining the existence of any large conspiracy or official orchestration” behind the 2002 riots, that the SIT agreed to record his statement on the controversial February 27 meeting with the Chief Minister.

What to say! All who lives in Gujarat knows that the riots were backed by the Gujarat Government. While most of the officers are corrupt in our nation and serve Political parties instead of people good to gain better position or to earn extra money, I salute Officer Bhatt for his courage to stand up for truth. We need more officers like him to serve our country.

from:  aash
Posted on: Sep 16, 2011 at 09:35 IST

No sooner has Mr. Bhatt given the affidavit that the cover up has begun. There is now a systematic campaign to bury the truth so Modi can go away scot free. Mr. Bhatt has staked his life for justice for fellow countrymen.

from:  Kalyug
Posted on: Sep 4, 2011 at 00:18 IST

What was this Bhatt doing for nine years..and even if Modi had instructed to do so.. why did he follow his orders?

from:  Aniket
Posted on: Apr 25, 2011 at 15:39 IST

No sooner has Mr. Bhatt given the affidavit that the cover up has begun. There is now a systematic campaign to bury the truth so Modi can go away scot free. Mr. Bhatt has staked his life for justice for fellow countrymen.

from:  sameer
Posted on: Apr 24, 2011 at 21:34 IST

What was Mr Bhatt doing till date? What about the progress of Gujrat? Which state/central govt achived it?

from:  Indian
Posted on: Apr 24, 2011 at 17:07 IST

Majorty of comment written by various people are only rubbish. There is peace in Gujarat why all are trying to distrupe mind of Gujarat People.

Why people have voted Mr.Modi twice with a majority? I am very very proud to be in Gujarat.

Posted on: Apr 24, 2011 at 17:07 IST

What Sir. Narendra Modi did was a need of time and cause of same today Gujarat is faring really well in domestic as well as world market. We feel proud of him and India needs more number of strong leaders like him.

from:  KIshore Vijay Shetty
Posted on: Apr 24, 2011 at 12:02 IST

Former Gujarat director general of police K Chakravarti stated before SIT that Sanjiv Bhatt was not present at the February 27, 2002 meeting at the residence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Ahmedabad police commissioner PC Pande, secretary (home) K Nityanandam, principal secretary to chief minister PK Mishra and secretary to chief minister Anil Mukim also stated that Mr. Bhatt was not present in the meeting.

from:  Rajeev
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 16:21 IST

The comments by Sanjay are really thought inspiring. Why is Gujarat Riot probed in such earnest while the 1984 riot is put under cold storage. The only reason is to quell the threat posed by Mr. Modi, who was praised in the Wikileaks cable as well as by Mr.Hazare. He is also deemed incorruptible and is praised for his excellent administration. So, while the UPA and its leaders have a lot of stains on their shirt on spoiling the whole nation by corruption and communal and minority politics, the only stain Mr.Modi happen to have is the communal riots in Gujarat. Hence, from all the information in the media I could only construe that UPA or whoever it is are trying with no holds barred to smear him and eliminate him from rising to the position of playing national politics. I'm not a fan of BJP, UPA or the Left parties. My support is only for the specific acts not for any parties.

from:  Sivasathivel KANDASAMY
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 14:37 IST

My kind request to my Hindu brethrens, please do not politicize this issue as a game of politics between Congress and BJP. We Muslims are fighting for justice. Thousands of Muslims had been massacred in Gujarat and still the condition of Muslims in Gujarat seems to be worse compared to others. We are doing our best to convict the criminals involved in this killing and bring justice to the people. Protection and progress of minorities is very important for the welfare of any nation. If CM like Narendra Modi flourishes, then the state can never be at peace. Please try to undersand.

from:  Roeas
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 13:56 IST

I don't understand how Mr.Bhatt came into existance after a perio of appr 10 yrs. I strongly believe some of the media persons and news papers are after Gujarat.

from:  Piyush
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 13:07 IST

This officer should run away from Gujarat before it is too late... he is not only accusing the CM but also the entire police fore of complicity. He should remember what happened to Hiren Pandya and also how adept the Gujarat police are in getting rid of people by staging false encounters etc.

from:  Raghu
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 11:38 IST

There are fundamental questions being raised about Bhatt's affidavit:1. In his earlier dispositions, SIT has ignored his statements as his presence in the meeting has not been supported by other senior officials who were present. He was considered too junior to be at that meeting (if at all it was held).2.Why all these affidavits keeping getting leaked to media? Seems a deliberate leak to help some NGOs /political parties. 3.Bhatt has cast aspersions over SIT itself which has been appointed by Supreme Court itself. Though i'm not a Modi fan, but neither one of those who are baying for his blood. I feel the politics involved in such a sensitive matter is making things worse. Law of the land should be allowed to take its own course. We have to repose faith in our Courts. Not surprisingly, Congress tries to take a moral highground w.r.t godhra riots. What about 1984 Sikh riots where nearly 3000 Sikhs got massacred? The case against Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler has been going on for more than 2 decades now. Why no SIT about that case. I am afraid no political party can claim to be completely clean whenever communal riots are concerned. Victory in elections (by Rajiv Gandhi and Narendra Modi) has been used to divert attention from the homicides which took under their regimes. Such a sorry state of affairs doesn't speak highly either of our democracy or of our faith in human rights.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 09:11 IST

Let Mr. Anna Hazare read all these things before praising Mr. Modi. What Mr. Modi did is nothing but a form of corruption. If he did not do it directly even then his intentions were very much clear to teach a lessons to the Muslims of Gujrat. If we abide by the Constitution [Equality before law], he should be arrested under IPC rule that was imposed on Mr. Vinayak Sen.

from:  Asghar Ali
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 08:43 IST

Now a new feast for Congress and its UPA allies on the eve of elections. After all has any politician been convicted for crime? Look at graft and corruption allegations in Maharashtra; do Congress spokepersons ever make a reference of that. They are only after the Anna, Bhushans, Hegde, Sangh. Modi, Yedurappa, etc. The paid channels keep on showing them as DD often showed 'Hame Dekhana Hai' in 80's.

from:  Ghoda
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 03:51 IST

It is time to look deep into this sad situation. Normally, I prefer that such matters, as disclosed by the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence, Sanjeev Bhatt, in the media. There are problems galore in all kinds of investigations, commissions of inquiries, public perception and several NGOs several appeals to resolve this problem. No wonder, minority community, Gujarat in particular, and all over India has fed up with this kind of charade. If the current CJI honorable, Kapadia, takes the matter in his own hands, thrashes out complaints against SIT, consults with named witnesses before calling them to testify and gives full protection to Sanjeev Bhatt and his family from the paid killers. If Pandya was, as alleged by the article, assassinated by Muslims, it could happen to Bhatt from Hindus. He knows too much and could destabilise Narendra Modi's government, if not his political demise. ...and I am Sid Harth

from:  Sid Harth
Posted on: Apr 23, 2011 at 03:46 IST
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