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Explained: What the Nanavati Commission says about Modi, IPS officers and NGOs

The report has also cleared Narendra Modi of the charges of "tampering with evidence" when he visited the burnt S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train on February 27, 2002, the day when 58 passengers, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive in it.

Written by Parimal A Dabhi , Edited by Explained Desk | Gandhinagar | Updated: December 12, 2019 11:31:06 am
Over 1,000 people were killed in the 2002 Gujarat riots (above). Justices (retired) G T Nanavati and AH Mehta Commission probed the 2002 Godhra train carnage and subsequent communal riots

The Gujarat government on Wednesday tabled in the Legislative Assembly the final report of the Justices (retired) G T Nanavati and AH Mehta Commission that probed the 2002 Godhra train carnage and subsequent communal riots in Gujarat.

The report was submitted five years ago to the then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in 2014 after a public interest petition (PIL) was filed by retired Gujarat Director-General of Police R B Sreekumar in the Gujarat High Court.

The report runs into 2,500-plus pages across nine volumes. It contains 44,445 affidavits, 488 of which were filed by various state government officials.

The first report of the Commission was submitted in 2008, which too had cleared Modi of all charges. That report was in a single volume and had focussed largely on the train carnage.

What are the key findings of the Nanavati panel report?

Releasing the findings of the Commission, the state government said that the Commission has:

* Given a clean chit to then Chief Minister (and now Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and his Cabinet in the allegations of complicity in the train carnage case, and subsequent statewide riots.

* Indicted three former IPS officers — Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma, and Sanjiv Bhatt — for their “negative” role in the matter. The Gujarat government has announced departmental action against them.

“The Commission has concluded that the post-Godhra riots were not a pre-planned conspiracy. Neither the then CM Narendra Modi nor any of his Ministers were complicit in the riots. Also, none of the state government officials had involvement in the riots,” Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, who tabled the report in the Assembly, said.

“The Commission has found the role of three senior police officers as negative…They include R B Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma and Sanjiv Bhatt… We will initiate necessary departmental action against them,” Jadeja said.

Gujarat riots, 2002 Gujarat riots, 2002 riots, anti-Sikh riots, 1984 anti-Sikh riots, 1984 riots, indian express editorial page, indian express The riots broke out in the aftermath of the February 27 killing of 59 Hindus in a train burning in Godhra town. (Express Archives)

What did the three former officers tell the Commission?

Sreekumar, across nine affidavits, had submitted before the Commission the alleged illegal orders served on the police during the riots.

Sharma had submitted two CDs containing call data records of calls made from two private mobile service providers (Celforce and AT&T) when the riots were at the peak.

Bhatt had stated before the Commission that he was present at a meeting presided over by Modi on February 27, 2002, where, according to Bhatt, the then Chief Minister had issued orders to officers “to allow Hindus to vent their anger”.

Sreekumar is now retired. Sharma has taken voluntary retirement and practises law in the High Court. Bhatt, who faced dismissal from service, has been convicted in a 1996 case of planting drugs and is in prison.

What has the Commission said about Modi specifically?

Jadeja said the Commission has disagreed with the allegation that in the February 27, 2002 meeting, Modi had given instructions to let people vent their anger against Muslims for 24 hours.

The report has also cleared Modi of the charges of “tampering with evidence” when he visited the burnt S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express train on February 27, 2002, the day when 58 passengers, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive in it.

Jadeja said that the Commission has also given Modi a clean chit on his visit to Godhra on February 27, 2002, saying that the latter had visited the burnt S-6 coach to understand the incident and not to destroy evidence.

And what does the report say about Modi’s ministers?

Jadeja specifically named three BJP leaders, the late Haren Pandya, Bharat Barot, and the late Ashok Bhatt. The Commission has found the allegations against them to be false, he said.

Jadeja said that the Commission has not given any findings on the role of BJP leader Maya Kodnani, who is facing allegations of complicity in the Naroda Patiya massacre case since the case was sub judice at the relevant time.

What does the report say about the NGOs?

Apart from the three senior IPS officers, Jadeja said, the Commission has also found the role of two NGOs — Jan Sangharsh Manch, then led by the late Mukul Sinha, and Citizens for Justice and Peace, led by Teesta Setalvad — as negative.

These NGOs had wanted to tarnish the image of Modi, Gujarat and Gujaratis globally, Jadeja said.

“Those who could not defeat Modi electorally had conspired to tarnish his image and that of Gujarat globally. But people of Gujarat have given them enough punishment in successive elections. So, I do not want to say anything more than that on it… The Commission’s report has exposed Congress’s conspiracy to defame Modi and Gujarat,” Jadeja said.

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