Last week, additional director general of police R B Sreekumar filed a 172-page affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah commission (investigating the 2002 Gujarat pogroms against Muslims) that demonstrates the complicity of the police with senior political party leaders in perpetrating the violence:
It cites specific instances of police subversion in controlling the riots and manipulating investigations to help the perpetrators.
The affidavit annexes an analytical note sent to the then additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narayan, on April 24, 2002, quoting senior police officers on “officers at the decisive rung of the hierarchical ladder, like inspectors in charge of police stations, ignoring the specific instructions from the official hierarchy on account of their getting direct verbal instructions from the senior political leaders of the ruling party.”…
Sreekumar, who became additional DGP (intelligence), about 40 days after the riots started, was later transferred from the intelligence department because the political leadership suspected his role in the leakage to the media of the infamous Modi tapes. Now in-charge of police reforms and modernisation, Sreekumar cites specific intelligence reports about how a sarpanch owing allegiance to Shiv Sena led a conspiracy to incite communal disturbance even in the relatively peaceful Kutch to deter riot-affected Muslims in other parts of the state from migrating here.
In his testimony last week before the Nanavati-Shah commission, the Former Police Commissioner of Ahmedabad PC Pande denied any knowledge of the communal tension building up after the Godhra train carnage:
Contrary to the testimony of the then addl CP (sector 2) M K Tandon, Pande admitted having held a meeting of senior officers in his chamber, “but decided against disturbing the field formations.” He claimed to have no evidence of the fact that the post-Godhra riots were pre-planned or of the allegations of connivance of the lower-rung police officers with local political leaders.
Pande stated that he learned about the Godhra carnage from watching television. He repeatedly said that he could not recollect issues, such as the receipt of faxes:
Asked if he had received fax messages dated February, 27 and 28, 2002, from the IB on the Godhra carnage and the order that kar sevaks’ bodies were being brought to Ahmedabad, he said: ‘‘I might have received the messages, but I don’t recollect seeing them.’’
Pande admitted he was at the meeting called by CM Modi on February 27, 2002, but couldn’t ‘‘remember issues discussed.’’ On the police’s failure to curb the Gulbarg massacre, he said: ‘‘I had ordered two DSPs and the PI to rush to Gulbarg. A CISF company was sent but I have no idea whether they reached the spot on time.’’
Pande’s affidavit to the Commission tried to set the scene of a communally tense area, “like a tinderbox”, by discussing the history of communal violence in Ahmedabad. In his second day of testimony, he elaborated on the meeting called by Chief Minister Modi:
The state government had ‘‘not discussed preventive steps to be taken to counter any attack on minorities’’ in the wake of the Godhra incident, he said.
As per the Supreme Court’s recent order to review closed cases stemming from the 2002 pogroms, a police team has been constituted. The police team that will review the closed cases will include Gujarat policemen, led by the Gujarat police chief AK Bhargav. In a subsequent order, the Supreme Court further asked Gujarat’s Advocate General to review the failure to file appeals in 200 cases.
In other news, the Court has stayed the trial in the Dawood case, because a petition seeking retrial outside of Gujarat and a CBI investigation is pending before the Court.
The Maharashtra court postponed the Best Bakery retrial, after police asked for more time to find seven of the accused. The retrial has been delayed until September 8. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ordered the Gujarat government to explain the measures it had implemented to ensure protection of witnesses:
Though 11 months have elapsed since the Supreme Court ordered an inquiry into allegations of threats received by main witness Zaheera Sheikh and her mother Sehrunnisa, the investigations haven’t progressed at all….
The police tried to explain their failure on the human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, who has spearheaded the efforts of bringing the perpetrators to justice:
However, Teesta Setalvad, when contacted over phone, said she had told the Vadodara police to come to Mumbai to record Zaheera’s statements because Zaheera and her family could not be taken to Gujarat for obvious reasons. ‘‘But they did not come’’, said Setalvad, adding that the ‘‘Vadodara police has not contacted me during the last six months’’.
She also said that Santa Cruz police in Mumbai had already recorded Zaheera’s statements in connection with the threats.