Two years before a Special Investigation Team gave Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit,a preliminary report from the SIT had taken note of what it found a discriminatory attitude by Modi during the 2002 riots. DIG A K Malhotra,who examined Modi on March 27 and 28,2010,submitted the preliminary report on May 12,2010; SIT chairman R K Raghavan submitted the final report last February. Here is what the two reports have to say:
2010: Malhotras report quotes excerpts from a TV interview of Modi as quoted in Rights and Wrongs,a report by an Editors Guild fact-finding mission. Zee TV telecast the interview,by Sudhir Chaudhary,on March 1,2002. Modi told Chaudhary it was former MP Ahsan Jafris firing on a mob that provoked it to attack residents of Gulberg Society. About the widespread violence,Modi told Chaudhary: Godhra mein jo parson hua,jahan par 40 mahilaon aur bachchon ko zinda jala diya,isme desh main aur videsh main sadma pahunchna swabhavik tha. Godhra ke is ilake ke logon ki criminal tendencies rahi hain. In logon ne pehle mahila teachers ka khoon kiya. Aur ab yeh jaghanya apradh kiya hai jiski pratikriya ho rahi hai. This was translated in the SIT report as: Day before yesterday 40 ladies and children had been burnt alive in Godhra and the incident had shocked the nation as well as people abroad and that the people belonging to this area had criminal tendency and these people had earlier killed lady teachers and now they have committed this heinous crime for which the reactions are there. Malhotras report says,His further statement to Zee TV was too strong at a time when feelings were running high. This showed a measure of thoughtlessness and irresponsibility on part of a person holding a high public office.
2012: The SIT concludes,As per Modis version,he had not and would never justify any action or reaction by a mob against innocents. He had denied all allegations in this regard. Zee TV never sent a copy of the interview,says the SIT. Chaudhary told the SIT the Editors Guild missions report contained only excerpts and he did not have the original CD. He did recollect Modis reply that a mob had reacted on account of private firing done by Jafri,the SIT says. Chaudhary told the SIT Modi was of the view that he wanted neither action nor reaction. Modi reportedly said,Godhra main parson… pratikriya ho rahi hai, but Chaudhary could not recount the exact sequence.
5 times 5
2010: The SIT takes note of Modis Gaurav Yatra speeches in 2002 in the run-up to the Assembly elections. Ame paanch,amaara pachees (We five,our 25),Modi told a gathering on September 9,2002 in Becharaji,Mehsana. Modi told the SIT his speech did not refer to any community; it was a political speech in which he highlighted the increasing population of India. Malhotra says,The explanation given by Modi is unconvincing and it definitely hinted at the growing minority population.
2012: No criminality has come on record in respect of this aspect of the allegation, says Raghavans report.
2010: The bodies of 54 Godhra victims had been handed over to VHP leader Jaydeep Patel to be taken to Ahmedabad in five trucks. Malhotra says this was irresponsible since the bodies were case property.
2012: The report recommends action against mamlatdar N L Nalvaya,who handed over the bodies to Patel through a letter. It exonerates Modi from the charge of ordering the handover. District collector Jayanthi Ravi has told the SIT a meeting (Modi was present) unanimously decided that the bodies identified should be handed over to relatives in Godhra while those unclaimed could be sent to a hospital in Ahmedabad. Patel stated he did not meet Modi in Godhra; Modi did not remember. He has told the SIT that the modalities for transporting the bodies were the district administrations responsibility.
Early and late
2010: The SIT notes that Modi visited Godhra,300km away,on the day the train was torched,but went to Naroda and Gulberg only on March 6. Malhotras report says,This possibly indicates his discriminatory attitude… In view of the fact that Modi has admitted that he visited other riot-affected areas only after 5-6 days,the allegations stands proved.
2012: SIT has recorded the statement of Modis OSD Sanjay Bhavsar,who has said the CM did visit Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society after the riots while he went around relief camps in Ahmedabad. On March 3,he accompanied L K Advani to riot-affected areas in Dilli Darwaja,Idgah and Civil Hospital. Discussing a number of steps taken by the state government during the riots,the SIT has cleared Modi of a partisan attitude. This would go to show that the chief minister remained awfully busy with the steps to control the law & order situation,providing medical treatment to the riot victims,their rehabilitation,ex-gratia payment to the riot affected persons,NGO relief camps and with the payment of compensation for destruction of the properties during riots and also with his efforts to restore peace and normalcy in the state… it cannot be said that the chief minister had a partisan attitude and visited Godhra on February 27,but did not visit the riot-affected areas till March 5.
Mere statement in 4 walls of a room doesnt constitute offence
Excerpts from SIT final report on Modis alleged instructions in meeting
Sanjiv Bhatt,then DCI (Security),has claimed to have attended the meeting [February 27,2002,which is not established. Further,none of the senior administrative or police officers has stated that the CM uttered the following words: that so far in communal riots police take action on one-to-one basis and that this will not do now. Allow Hindus to give vent to their anger. Bhatt had initially claimed off the record during is examination on November 25/26,2009,that the CM had uttered these word at the meeting. This fact was duly incorporated by A K Malhotra,member,SIT,in his inquiry report dated May 12,2010,submitted to the Supreme Court. However,during further examination on March 21 and 22,2011,he improved his version and added that this time the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again.
It was for the first time after a period of seven years and nine months that Bhatt claimed to have attended the meeting convened by the Chief Minister on February 27,2002. Bhatt has explained that then DGP K Chakravarthi had instructed him to attend the meeting with the IBs assessment of the situation. Chakravarthi categorically denied having given any such instructions and has stated that Bhatt was not present in the meeting. Seven other officers who attended the meeting have categorically stated that Bhatt was not present. However,Swarnakanta Varma stated that she was unable to recollect whether Bhatt was present or not.
Besides that,Bhatt has pleaded ignorance about whether the CMs alleged instructions were passed on by senior police officers to their subordinates and also whether the same were complied with or not. Bhatt is a tainted witness and,therefore,cannot be relied upon keeping in view his background as he was involved in criminal cases of serious nature and departmental inquiries are in progress against him.
When the CM visited Godhra on February 27 evening,he addressed the meia and asserted that the culprits would not be spared and the victims would be paid Rs 2 lakh each. On February 28,within 12 hours of the alleged meeting on the night of February 27,the CM stated on the floor of the Assembly that the state government has taken this heinous,inhuman and organised violent act very seriously and is committed to give exemplary punishment to the culprits so that such incidents never recur anywhere. The CM repeated almost similar [words at his press conference on the afternoon of February 28 in Ahmedabad. In his appeal through Doordarshan on February 28,the CM reiterated that Gujarat will never tolerate any such incident. He also said the culprits should be awarded such exemplary punishment that no one would dare to get involved in such incidents. This would go to show that on at least five occasions,which are fully documented,during February 27 and 28,the CM addressed the media,the Assembly and the general public and everywhere the genesis and the intention were one and the same,i.e. to punish the culprits responsible for the Godhra incident in an exemplary manner so that such incidents would not recur.
In the light of the aforesaid discussion,the interpretations made on alleged illegal instructions given by the CM,by R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt,appear to be without any basis. Further,even if such allegations are to be believed for the sake of argument,a mere statement of alleged words in the four walls of a room does not constitute any offence.
Modi minus mobile
It was alleged that Modi used the mobiles of his personal staff. He told the SIT that he was allotted a mobile in 2002 but rarely used it,and denied that the VHPs Jaydeep Patel and Dr Maya Kodnani were in touch with him during the riots. Modis OSD Sanjay R Bhavsar told the SIT that the CM never used his mobile,personal asistant Tanmay N Mehta did not remember if Modi had a cellphone in February 2002,his other PA Omprakash Singh remembered that sometimes,when Modi was out of Gujarat and calls arrived on Singhs mobile,he would hand it over to the CM after ascertaining latters willingness to talk. Undoubtedly,some calls were received on the mobile phone of Tanmay Mehta from some BJP and VHP leaders and workers,but it cannot be proved that Modi spoke to them, says the report,failing to establish if Modi spoke to Kodnani or Patel.
both reports cite an alleged government order to probe Army officer Zahiruddin Shah over an alleged affair. R B Sreekumar [IPS officer has stated that on April 13/14,2002,A K Sharma,secretary to CM,had called him to his office and informed him that the CM had information about Major General Zahiruddin Shah,brother of Naseeruddin Shah,film actor,[and who had been assisting the police in maintaining law and order,having illicit relations with a lady of Bhavnagar,and Gurdayal Singh,then Addl DG,was helping him. Sharma wanted Sreekumar to enquire discreetly and submit a report,which Sreekumar refused and asked that Central IB could be asked to look into the matter as the Major General was staying on the Army campus. Sharma denied recollecting any such incident,meeting or interaction with Sreekumar.
Gordhan Zadaphia,former MoS for Home,has told the SIT he heard about the train burning at about 7.30 am from VHP activist Ashvinbhai Patel over phone,and then informed the chief minister and the Godhra SP and IGP. Modi has said he got the information around 9 am from then additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narayan,after which he called a meeting at his home with Zadaphia,Narayan,DGP K Chakravarthi and Ahmedabad police commissioner P C Pande. Pravin Togadia,VHP leader,told SIT he got the news from one of his colleagues in Ayodhya. A March 1,2011,court order says the Sabarmati Express reached Godhra at 7.43am,four hours late.
IPS officer Kuldip Sharma,who was denied a promotion to DGP,has told the SIT he was transferred in July 2005 as ADGP (training) ..as he did not agree to book Mallika Sarabhai in a false case and also did not [agree to save Prabhatsinh Chauhan,a minister in Modi cabinet,who was involved in a case of misappropriation. Kuldip Sharma says that in March 2002,after the Zinjer killings,he got a call from his younger brother,IAS officer Pradip Sharma,who said the CMs principal secretary Arvind Sharma had told him to convey that Kuldip needed to show restraint. Arvind Sharma,who has denied it.,is supposed to have said,I am calling from the CMs chamber…. Please tell Kuldip he does not need to be too proactive. There is no need to protect Muslims. Let whatever is happening go on. The SIT concludes that since Arvind Sharma was on leave then,he could not have spoken to Pradip Sharma. Kuldip Sharma has since been chargesheeted departmentally and not been promoted… a number of cases had been registered against Pradip Sharma… both brothers have an axe to grind against the government and their testimony is not trustworthy.