National

Manch seeks clarification on ‘destruction' of records

The Jan Sangharsh Manch, which represents the victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, has filed an application before the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission to direct the State government to clarify on the specific documents reportedly “destroyed” in 2007 as per the “standard procedure.”

The application was filed before the commission here on Monday on behalf of Manch convener Amrish Patel.

Mr. Patel demanded that the probe panel direct the Home Secretary to file an affidavit on the records of the State Intelligence Department for the period February 27 to May 31, 2002 so destroyed.

The application was filed following claims last week by the State government Pleader before the commission, S.B. Vakil, that some of the records particularly the telephone register, the police vehicle log books and officers' movement diaries of the period were destroyed in 2007. He claimed that this was part of the “standard procedure” followed by the Police Department to clear documents more than five years old. Mr. Vakil also said the controversial State cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, had filed the affidavit before the Supreme Court in April, accusing Chief Minister Narendra Modi of making anti-minority statements during the riots, “knowing fully well that the records of that period have been destroyed and his claim cannot be verified.”

While Mr. Bhatt denied any knowledge about the destruction of the records, the claim created a furore among the legal experts and human rights activists.

The State government has so far not issued any clarification or denial about Mr. Vakil's claims despite the fact that the Nanavati-Mehta Commission is yet to complete its task and several of the gruesome massacres during the riots had also been investigated by a Special Investigation Team under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court.

A local newspaper, however, on Sunday quoted a “Home Department release,” which was also picked up by a news agency, in which the State government is claimed to have stated that it had “preserved all the records related to 2002 riots and they will be submitted to the inquiry commission as and when required.”

It also claimed that some “classified records were destroyed routinely in accordance with the 1992 notification of the State Director General of Police as part of the “official maintenance.”

‘As per laid-out law'

The incumbent Director General of Police, Chittaranjan Singh, had also claimed that “everything has been done as per the laid-out law and nothing has been done in violation of the legal provisions.”

He, however, was silent when asked about the justification for destroying records of such a controversial period and particularly when investigations into the incidents were still on.

In view of the contradictions in Mr. Vakil's claims and the Home Department release, the Manch demanded that the commission direct the State government to give the name of the officer, who had ordered the destruction of the records and the reasons for doing so. It also demanded the government produce a certificate of actual destruction.

The application also wanted the commission to direct the government to specify whether any document or record of the DGP's office and the State control room and the offices of the Police Commissioners of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot, and their respective city control rooms for the period between February 27 and May 31, 2002, had actually been destroyed.

It also wanted the government to produce or permit inspection of the vehicle log books and telephone registers of the then DGP, K. Chakravarthi, the Additional DGP, G.C. Raigar, the Additional Inspector General of Police, O.P. Mathur, the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, P.C. Pande, Mr. Bhatt, who was the then Deputy Commissioner in the State Intelligence Bureau, and some other police officers for the period.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 11:03:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/manch-seeks-clarification-on-destruction-of-records/article2159341.ece

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