Manubhai Karsanbhai Patel,a retired policeman who was the first investigating officer in the Dipda Darwaja massacre case,on Monday became the first policeman to be convicted and sentenced in any of the post-Godhra riot cases.
Patel was charged with not filing an accurate FIR,not reporting that 11 people had gone missing on the day of the riot and not protecting evidence of the massacre.
Patel was convicted by the special trial court of dereliction of duty and sentenced to a year of simple imprisonment.
As the then senior police inspector at Visnagar Police Station,Patel had registered the FIR in the case and remained IO between February 28,2002 and May 23,2002.
He was later arrested and chargesheeted by SIT that further probed the case.
According to the chargesheet,Patel did not record complainant Iqbal Balochs statement accurately in the FIR.
Also,he had collected medical certificates of 22 eye-witnesses who were injured in the case but did not record statements of 10 of them.
The then Mehsana superintendent of police Anupamsinh Gehlot had informed Patel about 11 missing persons on February 28,2002. However,Patel did not file any missing report.
Seven persons were arrested from the scene of massacre on the same day. During their interrogation,Patel did not try to find out about the 11 missing persons. Also,the chargesheet said,Patel did not seek their remand even as they were sent to judicial custody.
According to SIT,Patel had carried out a panchnama (inquest) of the scene of offence on March 1,2002,which was not properly done. FSL officials did a panchnama again on March 6,2002 and found remains of five of the 11 missing persons. This gave enough opportunity to the accused to escape conviction.
SIT had also alleged that Patel did not make any effort to find out the six other missing persons,whose burnt remains were later recovered from Malav Talav,two kilometres away from the massacre site. Even after this,Patel did not investigate to find out as to who brought those remains there.
Two other policemen are also undergoing trial in two of post-Godhra riots that were further probed by the SIT one each in Naroda Gam and Gulberg Society massacre cases.