NEW DELHI, April 15: The Gujarat Police files that had gone ‘missing’ and were declared by state Chief Minister Narendra Modi to have been destroyed surfaced in a TV expose on Monday, its contents pinning the blame squarely on the rightwing strongman for the anti-Muslim pogrom of February-March 2002.
Intrepid journalist Ashish Khetan appeared on Headlines Today on Monday night with more than 7,000 police files of telephone alerts and wireless warnings to refute Mr Modi’s claim that he was unaware of the enormity of the violence in which more than 2,000 Muslims were killed by rightwing Hindu mobs over several days, but most viciously on February 28.
Mr Modi had described the killings as a spontaneous reaction to the roasting alive of dozens of Hindutva activists in a train in the Godhra town allegedly by a Muslim mob. The files detail how police patrols had dispatched alerts and warnings to their headquarters about the tense situation in Ahmedabad and elsewhere in the state in the aftermath of the Godhra inferno, and how these were ignored. Police officers conspired with Hindu mob leaders to target Muslims.
The files indicate an apparent complicity in a cover-up of the crime by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court. The SIT had evidently failed to cite the police messages while giving a clean chit to Mr Modi and his cabinet colleagues as well as key police officials who conspired in the crime. The messages show that contrary to the claims so far, the average police constable on beat was diligent in his duty, not so his officers.
The fresh revelations are expected to help Mr Modi’s rivals in the Bharatiya Janata Party wrest from him the chances of his candidature for the prime minister’s post in the coming elections. Though India’s ruling Congress party will exult in the dramatic breakthrough, it stands to gain little electorally, and could in fact suffer if a candidate other than Mr Modi is put up to lead the party. Mr L. K. Advani’s name is being mentioned as the one most likely to profit from Mr Modi’s difficulties.
The revelations came as Mrs Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, on Monday filed a protest petition in a Gujarat court seeking rejection of the SIT report giving a clean chit to Mr Modi and others in the Gulberg Society attack case. Mr Jafri was brutally killed outside his home.
The petition also sought further investigations into the case by an independent agency other than the Supreme Court-appointed SIT and filing of charge-sheet against Mr Modi and others.
Ms Zakia Jafri, along with her son Tanvir, activist Teesta Setalvad and several witnesses of the Gulberg Society massacre, were present during filing of the plea at the Metropolitan court.
The Supreme Court, in its order on February 7, 2013, had allowed Ms Jafri to file a fresh protest petition and also directed that she be given the entire report of the SIT inquiry.
Ms Jafri had challenged the trial court’s order rejecting her plea seeking some of the documents related to the investigation in the case, including the interim report filed by SIT member A. K. Malhotra.
She had sought the documents to file the protest petition against the SIT’s closure report in the case, which was rejected by the trial court.
However, following the apex court order, the SIT handed her over the copy of Malhotra report.The court of the metropolitan magistrate B. J. Ganatra granted Ms Jafri time to file her protest petition by April 15, 2013.