“Decision to bring Godhra victims' bodies taken at top level”

Modhvadia quotes from then Ahmedabad police chief's deposition in letter to SIT

February 10, 2012 02:05 am | Updated November 17, 2021 12:20 am IST - NEW DELHI:

P.C. Pande, Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad during the Godhra and post-Godhra violence of 2002, deposed before the Justice G.T. Nanavati Commission in August 2004 that the decision to transport the charred bodies of Godhra victims to Ahmedabad was “taken at the top level of the government.” Further, looking to the “sensitive” and “tinderbox-like” situation in Ahmedabad, he himself was of the opinion that the move could cause serious repercussions.

Mr. Pande's deposition has been quoted by Gujarat Congress leader and MLA Arjun Modhvadia in a letter he recently wrote to Special Investigation Team (SIT) Chairman R.K. Raghavan.

In the letter, Mr. Modhvadia accused Mr. Raghavan of deliberately disregarding the “criminal violations” involved in the handling of the bodies, which were transported on the night of February 27, 2002 to Ahmedabad, paraded uncovered and handed thereafter to members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal.

‘Did not want to interfere'

Importantly, Mr. Modhvadia quoted from Mr. Pande's deposition: “…I had not taken the decision of bringing the dead bodies to Ahmedabad. As I believe that the decision might have [been] taken at the top level in the government and it was not necessary for me to interfere in that decision…”

“…When I know that about 58 bodies were being brought to Ahmedabad or that they have already [been] brought, at that time I had a feeling that looking to the communal situation of Ahmedabad, it is a sensitive and like a tinderbox and therefore, in the prevailing circumstances , if these dead bodies are brought to Ahmedabad then possibly it will create serious impacts…”

Said Mr. Modhvadia:: “I do not know how you can avoid taking cognisance about facts and evidence of the charge of CM [Narendra] Modi and all those government officials, who intentionally violated structural statutory stipulation(s) about handling of dead bodies involved in crime/accident and made these mere exhibition materials for aggravating communal frenzy in Ahmedabad.”

Salutary provisions

Mr. Modhvadia said that immediately after the post-mortem, the bodies should have been handed to the nearest relatives and their sensitivities should have been kept in mind given that the bodies were severely disfigured. Said the Congress MLA: “You may read with profit the provisions of the Gujarat Police Manual Vol. III as provided in Rule 144, 145, 223 and 224 where you will find salutary provisions recommending a quick dispatch of the bodies for post-mortem to the nearest hospital, prohibition of taking photographs which are revolting in nature and quick disposal of dead bodies keeping in mind the sensibilities of the victim's relatives. And yet in violation of statutory rules on that fateful day, all the bodies were transported to Ahmedabad.”

‘Legal malice'

Further, “Clearly, 59 bodies could not have moved more than 200 kilometres to Ahmedabad without the knowledge of the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police. Clearly, an intentional violation of procedure was done for the sole purpose of inflaming the passions of the people especially in view of the call for Gujarat bandh given by the political party which constituted the government in Gandhinagar. In violating a laid-down procedure, legal malice is established beyond doubt and when this legal malice has manifested itself into widespread violence resulting in massive carnage across the State, elements of criminal conspiracy are clearly established.”

Then Ahmedabad Police Chief had said he feared move would have serious impacts

Modhvadia says the bodies should have been handed over to the nearest relatives

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