Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: Advocate General (AG) of the Gujarat government Kamal Trivedi on Saturday denied that there was any “instruction” issued by Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the police to “allow” the Hindus to vent their anger against the minorities in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage on February 27, 2002.

Opposing the Jansangharsh Manch application before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial enquiry commission to summon Mr. Modi and some others to examine their “role and conduct” during the post-Godhra riots, Mr. Trivedi said the evidence available with the Commission suggests that the police were told to take every possible step to maintain law and order and to contain violence.

In his over three-hour long presentation before the commission here, Mr. Trivedi also denied that Mr. Modi had “entered” the burnt S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express at the Godhra railway yard “with an entourage” and in the process destroyed some important evidence. He said Mr. Modi had only climbed up the steps of the burnt coach and peeped inside but never entered the compartment and there was no question of his destroying evidence. He was accompanied by some government officials and not by an “entourage” of the party workers as the Manch application suggested.

Referring to the meeting of the top officers convened by the Chief Minister on the night of the train carnage to review the situation in view of the protest “bandh” call given by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad the next day, Mr. Trivedi said the Manch heavily relied on the third affidavit of the former Additional Director General of Police, R.B. Sreekumar, in which he quoted the then DGP, K. Chakravarthy, having told him that Mr. Modi wanted the police to “allow” the Hindus to vent their anger.

But the affidavits filed by Mr. Chakravarthy himself, the then Additional Home Secretary Ashok Narayan, and the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande, who were actually present at the meeting, categorically stated that instructions were given by the Chief Minister to “do everything possible to prevent any upsurge of violence and further to take all lawful and necessary steps to ensure arrest of such violence.

Mr. Trivedi said that even Mr. Sreekumar in his first two affidavits as well as during his oral deposition before the commission made no insinuation but made such “blatant and untrue allegation” only on being denied promotion later to embarrass the government. The AG also questioned the authenticity of the two compact discs containing the list of mobile phone numbers which formed the major part of argument of the Manch to summon Mr. Modi and others. Quoting from the affidavit filed by Rahul Sharma, the then Superintendent of Police assisting the crime branch in the riot investigation, who had arranged for the CDs from the then two mobile service providers, Mr. Trivedi said Mr. Sharma himself admitted that he had taken the CDs home, copied them on the hard disc, analysed, zipped and made two new CDs.

He had claimed that the original CDs received from the mobile companies were handed back to the then Crime Branch chief, P. P. Pande, but the official denied having received them. Other affidavits of the crime branch officials also made it clear that there was no trace of the original CDs while the originals copied into Mr Sharma’s hard disc had also been erased.

Time granted

Manch advocate Mukul Sinha, who disputed Mr. Trivedi’s contentions on the authenticity of the CDs, pointed out that the government in its case in the Gujarat High Court on the arrest by the Special Investigation Team of the former Minister of State for Women’s Welfare, Mayaben Kodnani, had used the same CDs as authentic and used the information they contained to file the charge sheet against her.

On his request, the Commission gave Dr. Sinha time on July 15 to argue on the authenticity of the CDs.