Valsad Deputy Superintendent of Police K G Erda,who was arrested by the Special Investigation Team for dereliction of duty,abetment to murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the Gulbarg Society massacre in which 39 people were killed,was sent to police remand for five days by the Metropolitan Magistrates court here on Monday. The investigators had sought police custody of Erda for 12 days.
Incidentally,the punishment for abetment of an offence is same as for the offence itself.
According to Erdas advocate Mitesh Amin,he has been accused of improper investigation in the case and of shielding some of the accused in the case. The charges against Erda include not getting blood samples of the dead and not calling the officials of the Forensic Science Laboratory and the Fire Brigade after the massacre. He is also accused of holding two panchnamas of the same jewellery box found from the Gulbarg Society. The DSP is also accused of not issuing arms to policemen present at the site of the massacre.
SIT officials also mentioned in the remand plea that they need to investigate if he had given a free hand to some of the accused in the case,who were caught on camera in a media sting operation.
Erda is also accused of not making preventive arrests on February 28,2002,even though the VHP had announced a bandh that day.
Meanwhile,Erdas arrest has made the victims families to hope for justice again.
Zakia Jafri,whose husband Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri was among those killed in the massacre,is now optimistic that the probe by the SIT is going in the right direction.
Zakia,who shifted from Ahmedabad to Surat to stay with her eldest son,told The Indian Express: The law is taking its own course. The arrest of a police officer of a Dy SPs rank is a big step.
I had seen the entire incident,the shouting and the bloodshed when the mob came,even the role of police officials after the incident.
Zakia added: The massacre started at 9 am and continued till evening and no police official turned up to stop the mob. The Gulbarg incident was well-planned and well-executed. Erda is the tip of the iceberg. Many more police officials were involved.
Rupa Mody,whose 14-year-old son went missing during the massacre,said,The arrest of policemen like Erda and the probable arrest of ministers and higher-ups named by the SIT prove that an independent investigating agency is finally acting on our complaints.
It seems riot victims have finally started getting justice after a seven-year-long wait, said Mody,whose plight inspired the movie Parzania.
According to the statements of some of the victims including the Mody couple,Erda had allegedly misquoted them in their complaints. I pray for justice for not only me,but for all those thousands of other riot victims,with whom I empathise, Modi said.a is the first policeman to be arrested in the case; 16 others had also been arrested.