SIT records statement of Pande who was Ahmedabad police commissioner during 2002 riots
The Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) which is re-investigating the nine post-Godhra communal riots cases of 2002,has recorded the statement of Gujarat Director General of Police PC Pande,the then Ahmedabad Commissioner of Police.
Highly placed sources in the SIT confirmed they had recorded Pandes statement a fortnight ago in connection with the Gulbarg Society massacre in the Meghaninagar area of Ahmedabad on February 28,2002.
Thirty nine people,including former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri were slaughtered and 30 people are officially considered missing even seven years after the carnage.
His (Pandes) statement was recorded more than 15 days ago following allegations that he had visited Gulbarg Society on the morning of February 28 and that it was after his departure from the spot that the rioting mob attacked the people, said a senior police officer in the SIT.
The statement has been recorded to verify the allegation whether he had visited the Gulbarg Society that day or not, the officer added.
SIT chief R K Raghavan,however,declined to comment on the issue. I would not be able to comment on the matter, he said.
Pande also could not be contacted for comments.
Meanwhile,Mukul Sinha,the chairman of Jan Sangharsh Manch,which has been spearheading the legal battle for the riots victims,was sceptical about the SIT taking Pandes statement to verify his alleged presence in Gulbarg Society on that day.
Pandes mobile phone records clearly show that he had not gone to Gulbarg Society on February 28. So,instead of checking his presence there,the SIT should hold him responsible for action omission in Ahmedabad during the riots and conduct an inquiry against him in that direction,instead of only against the lower personnel, he said.
Sinha added: As the city police chief,Pande had to safeguard the life and property of the people. It is a fact that he did not provide help to the people despite repeated requests by the victims including those of Gulbarg Society.
Witnesses have told the investigating agency that on February 28,2002 Pande had visited the Gulbarg Society and Ehsan Jafri in the morning and promised protection and reinforcements. Moments after he left,the rioting mob attacked the residents.
The phone records of February 28,2002 also show that Jafri had made calls from his landline phone for help to a number of people including the then AMC Standing Committee Chairman Badruddin Sheikh,as the violent mob closed-in towards his residence.
Sheikh in return called up a number of people for help including Pande.
Being an ex-MP,Jafri was a VIP resident and fearful neighbours had rushed to his house hoping he could provide them safety.
However,it was alleged that Pande failed to send in reinforcements to rescue Jafri and the others who had taken shelter in his residence.