“Substantial evidence” to prosecute Modi: Sanjiv Bhatt to SIT

January 25, 2012 11:57 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 05:06 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Sanjiv Bhatt. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Sanjiv Bhatt. File Photo: V.V. Krishnan

The suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, has strongly urged the head of the Special Investigation Team, R.K. Raghavan, to proceed with the prosecution of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as there was “substantial direct evidence as well as overwhelming circumstantial evidence” to establish his alleged complicity in the anti-Muslim pogrom of 2002.

Mr. Bhatt, who shot off yet another letter to Mr. Raghavan on Tuesday (his fourth this month), said he was writing in response to reports that the SIT had sought legal opinion on whether or not to prosecute Mr. Modi for the post-Godhra violence. Drawing on his depositions before the SIT, Mr. Bhatt said he had personally met and alerted Mr. Modi to the deteriorating law and order situation on February 28, 2002, focusing especially on “the imminent carnage at Gulberg Society.”

He said he met Mr. Modi twice that day and “by the time of the second meeting… the carnage at Gulberg Society had begun in full view of the police personnel who were deployed there... The Chief Minister was accordingly briefed about the complete police inaction and complicity. The Chief Minister was also explicitly informed about the imminent threat to the lives of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri and his family members.”

Mr. Bhatt also drew the SIT's attention to the “numerous Situation Reports and Alert Messages” sent “contemporaneously to the Office of the Chief Minister,” especially concerning the “developing violent situation and imminent carnage at Gulberg Society.”

He said Mr. Modi was also kept informed on telephone about the developments. A fax alert dated February 28, 2002 attached to the letter to Mr. Raghavan said: “As informed telephonically to the Hon'ble CM, ex-MP Ehsan Jafri and his family members residing at Gulmarg Society [Mr. Bhatt told The Hindu the alert had erroneously referred to Gulberg as Gulmarg because that is the first time he had heard of the housing society], Chamanpura, Meghaninagar have been summoned and are being attacked by a Hindu mob in the presence of police bundobust [deployment]. The lives of Ehsan Jafri and other family members are in imminent danger…” The alert was addressed to the Personal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the Personal Secretary to the Minister of State (Home) with copies to the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad.

Mr. Bhatt said that instead of reacting to the alerts, Mr. Modi instructed him (Mr. Bhatt) to dig out details of “past instances wherein Mr. Jafri had supposedly opened fire on Hindus during earlier communal riots in Ahmedabad.” Mr. Bhatt said that as he emerged from the meeting, he got the information that Mr. Modi was “independently getting real-time information updates on the developments that were taking place at Gulberg Society.”

Mr. Bhatt said the Chief Minister's conduct made it “unambiguously and absolutely clear” that he was not interested in discharging his “constitutionally mandated legal obligation of directing the police force to act with all firmness in order to protect the life and property of helpless citizens.” Instead, he wanted to collect information that could be used to build a case that the Gulberg carnage was triggered by Mr. Jafri himself.

The police officer argued further that these “acts of commission and omission” by the Chief Minister amounted to “facilitation and abetment of the gruesome carnage at Gulberg Society” and he was liable to be charged for abetment under Sections 109, 112, 115, and 117 of the Indian Penal Code and for concealing design to commit an offence under Sections 118 and 119.

Later, Mr. Bhatt told The Hindu that he had repeatedly made two requests to the SIT: to allow his statement to be recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Cr.PC. and to examine control room inspectors and other officers who were in a position to testify on the developments of February 27 and 28, 2002, and who could, by their statements, support or negate Mr. Bhatt's claim that he attended a late night meeting held at Mr. Modi's residence.

The police officer said: “My depositions to the SIT have been under Section 161 of the Cr.PC which does not even require my signature. However, a statement under 164 of the Cr.PC cuts both ways. It is legally binding, but if I have lied, it also allows my prosecution for perjury. Is that too much to ask?”

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