Nanavati panel yet to summon any politician for questioning

The Nanavati panel,unlike the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT),has so far stayed away from summoning any politician. It was set up in 2002 to probe the causes of the post-Godhra riots as well as politicians’ role in them.

Written by Syed Khalique Ahmed | Ahmedabad | Published:February 19, 2009 1:17 am

The Nanavati panel,unlike the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT),has so far stayed away from summoning any politician. It was set up in 2002 to probe the causes of the post-Godhra riots as well as politicians’ role in them.

The commission has maintained silence on politicians despite the fact that the names of several politicians had cropped up in police complaints made by riot victims as also during hearings by the commission itself.

In fact,a CD presented to the commission by IPS officer Rahul Sharma mentioned the names of several politicians as also policemen suspected to have links with the riots.

Senior lawyer Mukul sinha,representing Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM),had appeared before the commission in January 2008. He had also submitted applications with details of phone calls made by the then state Law Minister Ashok Bhatt,the then Home Minister Gordhan Zadafia and Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s personal assistant to VHP leaders like Jaydeep Patel and several policemen when riots broke out after the torching of Sabarmati Express train in Godhra.

In his applications,Sinha had prayed that these persons should be summoned by the commission and questioned as to why so many calls were made by them and for what purposes. According to Sinha,it would throw light on the roles played by them after the Godhra train tragedy and could give some clue about how the riots spread to different areas,with the police looking on.

Sinha,after submitting the applications,raised the matter several times with the commission but all his efforts went in vain. He told Newsline that if the SIT could issue summons to Maya Kodnani and Jaydeep Patel,who was VHP general secretary at the time of riots,there was nothing to prevent the commission from summoning the politicians named in the application. “Even if those mentioned in the applications are not involved,the commission should have summoned them,” Sinha said.

Retired Director General of Police R B Sreekumar was the intelligence chief during the riots and had invited the wrath of the Narendra Modi government for giving statements to the commission that brought a bad name to the state government.

He said the commission must have summoned the political bosses as also the police and civil officers having complicity in the riots.

“In my depositions,I told the commission that Home Secretary G C Murumu had threatened me of serious consequences if I deposed against the government,but Murmu was not summoned,” Sreekumar alleged,adding that he had submitted a recording on tape of his conversation with Murmu,as the latter allegedly threatened Sreekumar.

Sreekumar said the Hunter Commission probing the mass killings of Jalianwala Bagh in 1920 had personally questioned General Dyer and his colleagues responsible for the killings. He subsequently indicted Gen Dyer and several officers of the British Army losing their jobs.

“But Justice (retd) G T Nanavati heading the commission never questioned me directly,leave aside summoning politicians,” said Sreekumar.

Meanwhile,Justice Nanavati said it was not necessary to summon everyone. “When we examine things related to particular individuals,we can issue notices and summons to them. Otherwise we can’t,” he said.

It may be noted that the commission,in its Part I report submitted to the state government in September 2008,had given a clean chit to Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers in the riots.

In response to another question,he said the second part of the report will be complete in another month and will be submitted. As regards the delay,he said it took lot of time to get replies from people questioned,like police officers who had shifted to other places and some even out of the state post-retirement and transfer.

The commission’s term has been extended till December 31,2009.

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