THE RECENT order of the Supreme Court asking the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the alleged role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the post-Godhra communal riots of 2002 is a laudable decision. Firstly, it vindicates the commitment of the judiciary to justice and rule of law. Unfortunately, of late, political parties are getting elected through democracy but their hidden agenda is to implement monocracy. Even if the BJP repeatedly gets electoral verdicts in its favour in Gujarat, their mass violence and genocide cannot be forgiven. Today, we can be rest assured that the judiciary will take cognisance of such travesties. Secondly, the decision strengthens the morale of the secular section of the society.
When the SIT reinvestigates Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots, they will find a treasure of unchallengeable evidence that points to the Chief Minister hatching the anti-minority carnage. His government, violating all police regulations, had paraded the dead bodies of 59 persons killed in the Godhra fire incident of February 27, 2002, through the bylanes of Ahmedabad. There was a frenzied crowd of at least 5,000 people shouting sacrilegious, anti-Islamic slogans. What was the justification for this? Was that not an organised attempt to provoke violence?
The Gujarat government also took no action to prevent communal riots from erupting, killing close to 2,000 people. Imposition of curfew on February 28, 2002 was delayed up to 2 pm by then Police Commissioner PC Pande, to facilitate the parading of dead bodies. Even today, Modi says he has no regrets. He’s a servant of the Constitution and the carnage happened under him. Is he not responsible?
It is a Herculean task to prove Modi’s involvement with direct evidence because he did not keep any minutes of the meetings during riots; most of the instructions were highly illegal. On the forenoon of February 28, then DGP K Chakravarthy told me that he was feeling helpless because the Chief Minister has told him that “Hindu ire would come up for the next three days, please give a free play for this Hindu revengefulness”. Even the TEHELKA investigation shows three BJP members confessing that Modi had given them three days to carry out the operation. I hope the SIT will bring out such circumstantial evidence against Modi.
The SC’s move is welcome, but I admit it all depends on the SIT now. Worryingly, former CBI director RK Raghavan and his five-member SIT are handicapped because the Gujarat police is the one conducting investigations for them. The police officers are at the beck and call of the state, and if they don’t follow orders, they are penalised. In the last two years, 12 IPS officers have been superseded. Ideally, independent officers should be put in charge. Also, in most cases, witnesses are turning hostile. This is not a simple change of mind — there are strong forces at work here. When IAS and IPS officers, protected by the All India Services Act, shiver in their pants to testify, why blame civilians? They must be protected better.
Due to the subversion of justice, the justice process has been grossly delayed. But I’m optimistic. We started from zero, but we’ve made progress, even if miniscule. The Raghavan Committee is not as dismal as the Nanavati Commission, which was a bunch of clerks writing notes in favour of Modi. Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani was arrested on the basis of IPS officer Rahul Sharma’s affidavit, which was ignored earlier by the Gujarat Police and the Nanavati commission. The Raghavan Committee is far better than the shoddy investigators we’ve had before. Modi might not be afraid today, but if truth prevails, many heads will roll.
Author of this article, Mr. R.B Sreekumar was Addl DGP, Gujarat Intelligence, in 2002
Reprinted from Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 18, Dated May 09, 2009