Probe complaint that Naroda massacre victims' bodies were discarded in a well, he urges SIT chief
The suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has reiterated an apprehension: unidentified and unaccounted bodies of the 2002 riot victims may have been dumped in a well on an open field just behind the scene of the Naroda massacre.
On Monday, Mr. Bhatt wrote yet another letter to the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team Chairman R. K. Raghavan, requesting him to investigate the possibility. He had earlier written several letters requesting the SIT to record his statement in the presence of a magistrate.
Mr. Bhatt annexed a few letters and fax messages from the State Intelligence Branch (SIB), in which he was Deputy Commissioner, to investigate the matter. A copy of a letter written on March 18, 2002 by the then chief of the branch, G. C. Raigar, pointed out that the SIB had received representations from the people that some unidentified and unaccounted bodies of the victims of the Naroda-Patiya massacre were dumped in a dry well on an open filed behind the scene of the carnage, and covered with garbage. Foul smell emanated from the area, strengthening doubts about the dumping of bodies, the letter claimed, requesting the Police Commissioner to investigate the allegation and report back to the SIB.
Another letter, written the next day to the Police Commissioner, said some miscreants had dumped dead pigs atop the dry well to make it appear that these were the source of the foul smell.
However, “no genuine and sincere efforts have been made till date by any agency, including the SIT, to excavate the site for exhumation of the unaccounted and unidentified victims of Naroda massacre,” Mr. Bhatt regretted.
In another development on Monday, the judge of the special court, trying the Naroda-Patiya massacre case, Jyotsna Yagnik, visited the site. She was accompanied by police officers and advocates concerned.
Meanwhile, in a major relief to Mr Bhatt, the Gujarat High Court stayed police action against him in an alleged forgery case. It stayed the summons issued by district judge B. G. Joshi after Assistant Police Commissioner N. C Patel filed a complaint of non-cooperation against Mr Bhatt. Mr. Patel alleged that Mr Bhatt had wilfully refrained from appearing before the Crime Branch for questioning in connection with the FIR filed by his one-time assistant constable, K. D. Panth.
Mr. Panth had accused Mr Bhatt of “threatening and coercing” him to sign a “false affidavit” in support of the IPS officer's claim that he was personally present at the crucial meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the night of February 27, 2002. At that meeting, Mr. Modi allegedly asked the police to go soft on Hindu rioters to “avenge the Godhra train massacre.”
Mr Bhatt's petition to quash the summons was admitted, and Justice Anant Dave ordered a stay and issued notice to the State.