Same call records,different interpretations

Rahul Sharma found 3 other police officers were sitting in office during Gulberg Society attack; SIT says 2 of these officers stopped riots and saved lives

Written by Ujjwala Nayudu | Ahmedabad | Published: May 11, 2012 3:41:55 am

The SIT relied on call records collected by IPS officer Rahul Sharma when it probed the role of three top Gujarat police officers in the Gulberg Society massacre of 2002. But unlike Sharma,who has questioned the three’s alleged inaction,the SIT has found fault with only one,giving the other two a clean chit.

The SIT cleared Ahmedabad’s then commissioner of police P C Pande and joint CP Shivananad Jha while finding joint CP M K Tandon guilty of “an act of omission” but clearing him of criminal conspiracy.

The attack was in February 2002,when Sharma was a DCP posted in the city police control room.

In a report submitted to amicus curiae Raju Ramchandran (a copy accessed by The Indian Express),Sharma says Jha told his colleagues later that he had instructions from Pande to “let things happen” but,at about 10:45am,his “conscience pricked” and he left at 10:56am for “riot control”. The SIT report notes that Jha’s locations never showed in Gulberg that day. Sharma’s records locate Jha in Paldi,Mirzapur,Dariapur and Shahpur in a quick round of two hours; the SIT report credits him with saving 80 Muslim families in such areas.

Pande had 302 calls in the day and dialled 39 mobile numbers. Between 11am and 7.21 pm that day,Sharma says Pande had 210 incoming calls including from Congress MP Ahsan Jafri’s landline. The SIT claimed Jafri’s number doesn’t feature in Pande’s records. Sharma also counters Pande’s claim that he was busy deploying additional forces and imposing curfews,saying he sat in office all day. At 2pm,he claimed to have heard a commotion near a small dargah near his office. The SIT states “he single-handedly stopped riots”. The records locate Pande at Gulberg only after 7pm,when Sharma says everything was over.

Tandon,now retired,went to Gulberg on Pande’s instructions,minutes after violence erupted. Sharma’s report says he assured Jafri about additional forces being on the way; the SIT goes by Pande’s statement that he did not even know Jafri lived at Gulberg. The SIT notes that Pande later asked Tandon to move to Naroda Patiya. Sharma’s report says Tandon had real-time information on both sites and updated Pande. Sharma’s records find Tandon shuttling from the CP office and back till 10pm; the SIT notes that Tandon kept moving around in riot areas and “failed to send forces in time and was also in contact with the rioters. He did not monitor the situation properly at Gulberg even after knowing the gravity… an act of omission.” It says this was “not a criminal conspiracy” and suggests a departmental proceeding.

Sharma vs SIT

Sharma,now DIG at the Armed Units in Rajkot,has accused the SIT of “intentional lapses in analysis and deliberate failure in procuring the original CD of records”. In his report to the amicus curiae,he said the SIT “stonewalled” him five times. He claims to have submitted the call records to the SIT in 2006.

Written in the third person,the report says,“During his first deposition,the investigating officer of SIT told him that they ‘couldn’t procure’ the original CD from the mobile companies as it has been ‘destroyed’.” Sharma says he then wrote to SIT member A K Malhotra to probe it “but he neglected”.

Sharma collected the records from Cellforce (nowVodafone) and AT&T (now Idea) in 2004. His report says the legal head of Vodafone (Gujarat),V Srinivas,had told him “the CDs were never destroyed”. It claims the SIT told him it couldn’t analyse the CD as “the companies cannot identify the towers after seven years”. The SIT eventually put his records on record in 2008.

Sharma’s notes (february 27 & 28,2002)

PC Pande 9825048303

Attended meeting with CM,back to office in Ahmedabad. Remained till 1am (left normally by 7pm).Back next day at 8am (normal 10:30am). Left around 9:45am to hospital where bodies of kar sevaks were brought. Back at 11am,in office till evening,left for Gulberg Society at 7:21pm. Back within 15 minutes,stayed till 11pm,without moving to Naroda Patiya. Spoke to then DGP K Chakravarthi 8 times and to his zonal DCP PB Gondia (in charge of Meghaninagar) only twice; one call at 3:15pm (Jafri already dead) stated that rioters firing at Gulberg.

M K Tandon 9825048316

In his office till 1:15am (normally left at 7pm). Back in office at 8:30am,stayed till 11:25 am,left for Gulberg Society,reached at 11:34am when the violence had just begun. Assured help to families. Received a call from wireless at 12:09pm about police firing in Meghaninagar. Sharma says Tandon must have informed Pande,who pleads ignorance. From 4:30pm to 10pm,shuttled between office and Gulberg Society,yet neither did riot control forces reach victims nor were riots controlled. Last visited Gulberg at 10:55pm,by when society was left in ashes.

Shivanand Jha 9825048308

In Commssioner’s office till 1:15am,came back next day at 5:10am. “An officer arriving at work at wee hours indicated that he was aware of the gravity of situation.” Sharma claims Jha told him that Pande had told him and Tandon not to take any action and “let things happen”. Jha was in till 10:56am,went out after Pande returned. Was in Shahpur and Mirzapur area before returning at 2:56pm. From 5:47pm he was at Paldi; he came back to office at 7pm after which he remained all evening,leaving at 11:56pm.

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