Justice (retd) GT Nanavati has indicated that he did not find any justification to summon the then chief minister Narendra Modi to examine his role in the Gujarat riots of 2002, even though the CM and his Cabinet were included in his probe commission’s terms of reference.
2002 Gujarat riots: Nanavati Commission submits final report to Anandiben Patel
Asked why he did not summon Modi, Nanavati told The Indian Express, “The question is, is there a justification to call anybody?”
Nanavati, who heads the two-member commission, submitted its final inquiry report into the post-Godhra riots to Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel at her official residence on Tuesday. The report was submitted 12 years and 25 extensions after the commission was appointed by the Modi-led state government on March 6, 2002.
Apart from Nanavati, the former Supreme Court judge, the commission includes retired Gujarat High Court judge Akshay Mehta.
Speaking after submitting the report, Nanavati also responded to the late president K R Narayanan’s allegation of a conspiracy between the Centre and the state to perpetrate the riots. “When some allegations are there and you are called upon to produce the documents and you don’t produce it, what does it mean? It means the allegation does not appear to be true,” Nanavati said.
In an interview to Malayalam magazine “Manava Samskriti” in 2005, Narayanan had accused the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government of inaction and said that he had written several letters to the prime minister to take action during the riots but in vain.
The Nanavati commission had called for copies of the letters from Rashtrapati Bhavan which, however, denied the request citing security reasons. Narayanan repeated the allegations in a letter to the commission on April 8, 2005.
Three years later, on September 18, 2008, the commission submitted its first report, which gave Modi a clean chit.
Nanavati refused to comment on the contents of the final report but admitted that there was some delay in submitting it. The reasons, he said, have been dealt with in the report, which runs into more than 2,000 pages and has been divided into 10 volumes “for the sake of convenience”.
In the 12 years of its inquiry, the commission received more than 50,000 affidavits. And, even before the first report was submitted, the second member of the original commission Justice (retd) K G Shah died in 2008 and was replaced by Justice (retd) Mehta.
Responding to a question on why the commission did not obtain a lawyer’s services, Nanavati said, “The government did not appoint one although the commission wanted it for some reasons. These were issues which were to be decided at the time of the appointment of the commission. Unfortunately, I was not at the commission when it was appointed.”
The Gujarat government had initially set up a one-man commission of Justice (retd) Shah to probe the riots but later added Nanavati following criticism.
The commission’s first report had also faced flak after it termed the burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2003, when 59 Kar Sevaks were charred to death near Godhra Railway Station, as a pre-planned conspiracy involving “some individuals”.
In its final report, the commission is expected to record its opinion and recommendations on the role played by various bureaucrats, police officers and politicians, including Modi, at the time of the riots that followed the burning at Godhra.
With the submission of the report, one of the most significant and controversial chapters related to the 2002 riots has come to an end. The communal riots that followed the Godhra blaze left 1,169 people dead, according to official figures.