Appearing before a designated court hearing the 2002 Naroda Gam riot case, M L Nalvaya, who was then executive magistrate (mamlatdar) of Godhra, on Wednesday said he prepared a letter for handing over the bodies of kar sevaks to Jaideep Patel on the orders of his senior officers.
Patel, who was then a leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, is an accused in the Naroda Gam case. He is currently out on bail. The killing of kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya triggered riots in the state. Eleven Muslims were killed in Naroda Gam and there are 82 accused, including former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani.
Nalvaya, who is currently sub-divisional magistrate in Dahod, said he went to the spot where the Sabarmati Express coach was set ablaze at Godhra railway station and, under the supervision of his senior officers, he examined the bodies and completed other formalities. Later, Nalvaya said, he wrote a letter that the bodies should be handed over to Jaideep Patel in Ahmedabad at Sola civil hospital.
On being cross-examined by the Special Investigation (SIT) which probed the case, Nalvaya said he wrote the letter at the instance of his senior officers. He said the letter was not signed by Jaideep Patel and was handed over to someone else. He also said he did not know Patel and had never met him.
According to the SIT, the letter does not have any signature acknowledging that the bodies had been received.
The bodies were brought to Ahmedabad from Godhra and were handed over to the relatives in full public glare. Nalvaya’s deposition was recorded as part of additional witnesses in defence of the accused. The accused had moved an application to examine additional defence witnesses which was granted by the court. SIT sources said that about 30 such witnesses have been examined.
Another officer from Ahmedabad collector’s office, Mahendra Soni, was to be examined by the defence lawyer on the damage to Hindu properties. Soni had brought data on the total damage of Hindu and Muslim properties. The defence lawyer demanded separate data on Hindu properties and the compensation paid. The court instructed the officer to produce the bifurcated data by July 3.