Bhatt sticks to charges against Modi before Nanavati panel

IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt stuck to his statement that Modi had asked officials to be "indifferent" towards rioters during the 2002 post-Godhra communal violence.

Last Updated: May 16, 2011, 21:50 PM IST

Ahmedabad: IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt on Monday stuck to his statement made in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had asked officials to be "indifferent" towards rioters during the
2002 post-Godhra communal violence, while deposing before the
Nanavati Commission.

Bhatt, who was DCP, State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) in
2002, claimed before the panel that he had personally informed
Modi about the "imminent" threat to slain ex-Congress MP Ehsan
Jaffery and the people of Gulburg society (attacked by a mob),
and the reports of police inaction from across the city.

He also claimed, while deposing before the Commission
comprising retired Judges GT Nanavati and Akshay Mehta, that
the CM did not give any specific instructions on measures to
protect the people of Gulburg society, where Jaffery and 68
others were killed by a rioting mob on February 28, 2002.

The 1988-batch IPS officer, in his affidavit filed in
the apex court, has maintained that he was present at the high
-level meeting of officials called by Modi on the night of
February 27, 2002 after the Godhra train burning incident.

Bhatt told the commission, probing the post-Godhra
riots, that he had provided all the information to the
SC-appointed SIT as required by them in connection with the
complaint filed by Jaffery`s wife Zakia before the Supreme
Court.

When the Commission asked about the statement with
regard to Modi, he owned up to what was stated. In his
affidavit, Bhatt had alleged that Modi, in the February 27
meeting, had said that "Hindus be allowed to vent out their
anger", and "Muslims be taught a lesson."

During his cross-examination by Mukul Sinha, counsel
for Jan Sangarsh Manch (JSM), the NGO representing some of the
riot victims, Bhatt said during the late night meeting, Modi
was apprised about intelligence reports coming from across the
state in the backdrop of the Godhra train burning incident in
which 57 people, mostly kersevaks, were killed.

"It was sought to impress upon the Chief Minister
(Modi) by me that as per intelligence information, there was
large-scale mobilisation of Sangh Parivar cadre in major
cities as well as in far-flung rural areas of the state," he
told the Commission when asked if the top police officers of
Gujarat had informed the CM about the emerging situation.

"(Then) DGP K Chakrabarthy and city Police
Commissioner PC Pande had presented the case before Modi that
they were extremely short of manpower in order to meet the
situation of Gujarat bandh called by VHP (on February 28,
2002). It was further conveyed that in case of communal
violence, state police resources would be stretched and become
ineffective," Bhatt told the panel.

The IPS officer further told the riot panel that Pande
and Chakrabarthy, during the meeting, had stated that it was
not a good idea to bring the bodies of those killed at Godhra
to Ahmedabad.

"The officers said this would inflame communal
passion. They further said that taking out funeral procession
would act like adding fuel to the fire."

According to Bhatt, Modi was also advised against BJP
supporting the VHP-sponsored bandh over the Godhra incident as
it would result in serious misconception in the minds of the
party cadres that the shutdown was officially supported by the
State Government.

Bhatt told the Commission that besides attending the
February 27 meet, he was also present in two other meetings
held on the next day.

"During the first meeting on February 28, 2002 we had
information of rioting mobs building up as well as specific
information of sporadic incidents of targeted communal
violence. By the time of second meeting in late afternoon, we
had started receiving specific information about emerging
situation," the officer said.

Asked about if he had any specific reports regarding
the Gulburg society on February 28, Bhatt said by afternoon
they were receiving real-time information on situation
emerging there.

"At the second meeting with the CM, we had information
that lives of ex-MP Ehsan Jaffery and people of Gulburg
society were under an imminent threat."

When quizzed if he had informed Modi about the
situation in Gulburg, Bhatt said he had personally briefed him
about the status there and also about reports of police
inaction in the area.

"The Chief Minister did not give any instructions on
measures to protect the people of Gulburg," he replied, when
asked if the CM had given any specific order with regard to
the housing society here.

He said the SIB had repeatedly informed the Police
Commissioner`s office about the situation building up in
Gulburg and also requested them to take necessary measures.

Asked about the communal riots in Naroda Patiya area
of the city on the same day (February 28), Bhatt said they did
not have substantial information about the incident.

His cross-examination by the Government counsel would
take place on May 23.

The reason for lack of information on Naroda Patiya
was that the police machinery was stretched and they were
focusing more on Gulburg society, Bhatt said.

The police officer also filed an application with the
Commission seeking direction to the SIB to provide him with
records from the state control room for the period February
27, 2002 and September 17, 2002.

The probe panel said it would decide on the
application at a later stage.

PTI