Manas Dasgupta

Documentary proof on location of cellphones of important persons during riots provides clinching evidence, she claims

AHMEDABAD: The general secretary of the Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace, Teesta Setalvad, on Friday filed an affidavit before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission giving detailed documentary evidence of the location of some mobile phone numbers held by some important persons during the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat.

She claimed that the location of these mobile numbers held by officials of the Chief Minister's Office, senior Ministers in the then Narendra Modi Cabinet, senior bureaucrats and top police officers as well as some Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal leaders provided “clinching evidence” of the complicity of the government in the post-Godhra communal riots in the State.

There were 15 phone calls from the Chief Minister's Office to the then Ahmedabad police commissioner P.C. Pande, on the morning of February 28, 2002, and still the CP “did not stir out of his office,” Ms. Setalvad claimed that it clearly showed that “there were instructions from the top to the police not to act.”

She also submitted an analysis of the locational details of other important callers, including Health Minister Ashok Bhatt, Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadaphia, Home Secretary Ashok Narayan, Director General of Police K. Chakravarthi, top police officers in-charge of the areas where communal riots broke out, the then ruling BJP member of the Assembly, Mayaben Kodnani, and the then VHP state general secretary, Jaideep Patel, both later held as accused in the Naroda-Patiya and Naroda Gaam massacres, the Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi, also an accused, and several others to claim that most of them were in the vicinity of Naroda and Gulberg Society areas when tension was building up on the morning of February 28. But all of them refused to act to defuse the situation. “Apparently it was because of the instructions from the top not to act,” she claimed.

Same details

Ms. Setalvad's affidavit, however, mostly contained the same details that the Jansangharsh Manch, which is representing the riot victims before the Nanavati - Mehta commission, submitted before the commission more than three years back.

On the basis of the “locational details” of the mobile phone numbers held by these important persons, the Manch advocate, Mukul Sinha, had demanded the commission to summon Mr. Narendra Modi, Mr. Jhadaphia, Mr. Bhatt, and four others for cross-examination, but it has not given a positive response so far. For over two years, the State government pleader contested the authenticity of the compact discs containing the locational details of these numbers and after it was settled, the Commission ruled that it did not find enough reasons to summon Mr. Modi. The commission only directed three personal secretaries of the Chief Minister to file affidavits about their conversations with VHP leaders and others which they have filed but “failed to recollect” what transpired in the conversation.

The Commission's refusal to summon Mr. Modi forced the Manch to file a petition in the Gujarat High Court to issue a directive to the commission. The issue is still pending after the Commission told the High Court that it had not taken any “final decision” about summoning him. The entire arguments of the Manch both before the commission and the High Court are based on the same locational details of the mobile numbers which Ms. Setalvad filed before the Commission.