Minorities panel asks Bhatt, 6 others to testify on Modi meeting

It acts on complaint by a victim of the post-Godhra violence

Updated - July 24, 2016 03:55 am IST

Published - March 10, 2012 01:10 am IST - NEW DELHI

The National Commission for Minorities has served summonses on seven serving and retired Gujarat cops, asking them to appear before it and give evidence, among other things, on the February 27, 2002 meeting of top police officials held at Chief Minister Narendra Modi's Gandhi Nagar residence in the wake of the Godhra carnage. The Commission hearing is scheduled for March 12.

The summonses were issued on a written complaint from Malek Niyazbibib Bannumiyan, a victim of the post-Godhra anti-Muslim pogrom. She said it was important to know who attended the “critical meeting” because it “was the precursor to the widespread targeted violence the following day.” Ms. Bannumiyan cited the suspended Gujarat IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt's claim that he had attended the late night meeting and heard Mr. Modi say Hindus must be allowed to vent their anger on Muslims.

She also referred to a report in The Hindu of January 16, 2012, which carried the names of four inspectors — E.L. Christian, V.J. Solanki, M.K. Sharma and A.S. Kasiri — who had manned the control room of the State Intelligence Bureau at various points on February 27, 2002 (and the days that followed), and were, therefore, possibly in a position to testify on Mr. Bhatt's movements that day, including whether he attended the meeting at Mr. Modi's house. Mr. Sharma was the supervisory officer to whom constable K.D. Panth reported. Mr. Panth initially supported Mr. Bhatt, but later filed a First Information Report against him, alleging coercion.

The Commission has issued summonses to the four inspectors as well as three others mentioned by Ms. Bannumiyan: Mr. Bhatt himself, the former Director-General of Police, R.B. Sreekumar, and IPS officer Rahul Sharma. The Hindu has learnt that Mr. Bhatt and Mr. M.K. Sharma will attend the hearing. Mr. Kasiri has asked to appear through videoconferencing.

Ms. Bannumiyan — whose home at village Ognaz, Ta-Daskroi, Ahmedabd, was looted and destroyed in the post-Godhra violence — said she was appealing to the Commission “in view of the presently reported state of alleged tardiness in the investigation being conducted by the SIT [the R.K. Raghavan-led Special Investigation Team].”

The complainant said she had not been able to return home since the pogrom and has had to care for a young, disabled granddaughter, who was still to overcome the trauma of witnessing the violence. “What should I tell my disabled granddaughter? Should I tell her that people who connived [at] and planned everything, the attacks, the loot, who planned to uproot us from our soil, where the family had lived for generations, will all of them go scot-free?”

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