Monday, April 15, 2013

Police records show Gujarat riots weren’t a sudden backlash

NB-Is there a systematic attempt to withhold crucial evidence from the gaze of the courts? As in the Tytler case (1984) where the investigating agency did its best to discredit witnesses, so in this one, it seems that the criminal justice system sometimes works actively for the benefit  of powerful accused persons. In February 2013 the SC allowed Ms Jafri to file a fresh protest petition and directed that she be supplied with entire SIT report to enable her to file the protest petition. Ms Jafri, widow of Eshan Jafri..  had approached the Supreme Court challenging the magistrate's order. In her petition, Ms Jafri asked for documents related to the investigation, including an interim report by SIT member A K Malhotra. Following the Supreme Court's orders, the SIT had supplied the copy of the Malhotra report to Ms Jafri and Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra gave her time to file protest petition by April 15.  This shows that the SIT had not supplied the requisite documents to Ms Jafri, and did so only after being ordered to do so by the SC. 
Full Text of Mrs. Zakia Jafri's Protest Petition 
http://www.cjponline.org/zakia/protpetition/Protest%20Petition%20PART%20II.pdf

NB - contd.. The first police message of  trouble at Gulberg society is timed 12.15 pm, and the report of Jafri's brutal murder is timed 5 pm. In these four hours and more, Jafri is believed to have made scores of phone calls to senior political leaders desperately asking for assistance. Is it believable that the Chief Minister knew nothing and/or could do nothing? As Justice Katju says: "According to the recorded version of his elderly wife Zakia, on February 28, 2002 a mob of fanatics blew up the security wall of the housing society using gas cylinders. They dragged Ehsan Jafri out of his house, stripped him, chopped off his limbs with swords and burnt him alive. Many other Muslims were also killed and their houses burnt. Chamanpura is barely a kilometre from a police station & less than two kilometres from the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner’s office. Is it conceivable that the Chief Minister did not know what was going on? Zakia Jafri has since then been running from pillar to post to get justice for her husband who was so brutally murdered.."

All this also shows that the postures adopted by the JD(U) and others about Modi are deceitful. Led by LK Advani, the entire so-called Sangh Parivar defends the Modi-led BJP government's record in 2002. The party has even appointed an accused, junior Home Minister Amit Shah to a crucial position on its parliamentary board. The so-called moderate Atal B Vajpayee could do nothing, and as a matter of fact adopted the primitive language of collective guilt: "who lit the fire?" etc. It is clear that not only Maoists believe in and practice violence for political ends, the 'mainstream' parties do so as well. Their violence is respectable, their controlled mobs are patriots. In 1984 too, those of us who witnessed the violence and protested against it were cursed as 'anti-national'. The only way out of this mess is for politically responsible leaders to acknowledge the crimes their adherents have committed, and to openly forsake violence
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By Ashish Khetan: THE ‘ instantaneous reaction’ explanation of the Gujarat riots seems to be a fanciful construct if police control room messages and state intelligence bureau reports of February 27, 2002 are factored in. Headlines Today has accessed some of these inputs from field officers about VHP leaders making provocative speeches, crowds being mobilised, and warnings about the possibility of major riots. It is established fact that no curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad till noon the next day. The BJP government supported the VHP bandhs that, as events turned out, proved to be the pretext under which violent mobs were mobilised.

The most intriguing aspect of these messages is that they don’t find mention in the 541- page closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team ( SIT). No attempt seems to have has been made by the SIT to reconstruct events as they unfolded immediately after the Sabarmati train incident.

There were two centralised police control rooms in Ahmedabad in 2002. The Ahmedabad Police Control Room, a few km from Naroda and the now infamous Gulbarg Society, received messages of the buildup in the city, while the State Police Control Room in Gandhinagar got similar messages from across the state. A third control room at the State Intelligence Bureau Headquarters in Gandhinagar, the State DGP’s office is located, was also flooded with field intelligence reports from across Gujarat; copies of these too are with Headlines Today.



For instance, a field level officer faxed this message to the SIB: 
Feb 27, 2002 
Time: Not Known 
Sender: D. O, Ahmedabad 
Recipient: Intelligence Office, Virangam ( Ahmedabad) 
75 VHP & Bajrang Dal members gathered at Virangam Town Chali & Golwada area Situation in the area very tense Similarly, SIB messages show that there were three alerts about the impending massacre at Gulbarg.

Date: 28.02.02 Time: 12: 15 
Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad 
To: State SIB Control Room 
Muslims reside in Gulberg Society Mob is surrounding the place Strict watch should be kept there.

Date: 28.02.02 Time: 14: 50 
Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad 
To: State SIB Control Room 
Mob of 3000 rioters has surrounded Gulberg Society take immediate action.

Date: 28.02.02 Time: 17: 00 Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad 
To: State SIB Control Room 
Mob attacked the society from all sides Ehsan Jafri and women and children burnt alive Houses are ablaze Mob is looting from homes

The PCR messages don’t find any mention in closure report filed by the SIT

REPEATED WARNINGS
Headlines Today has uncovered the police control room messages and the state intelligence bureau reports which show that the police had received a constant stream of inputs from its field officers about VHP leaders making provocative speeches, about crowds being mobilised and warnings about the possibility of major riots breaking out Despite the flurry of ground reports and advance warnings, no curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad till noon the next day The BJP government supported the VHP- called bandhs that proved to be the pretext under which violent mobs were mobilised VHP leaders were not warned or put under preventive detention

ZAKIA JAFRI CHALLENGES CLEAN CHIT TO MODI

ZAKIA Ehsan Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots, filed a protest petition on Monday. It comes more than a year after the Supreme Court- appointed SIT submitted its report stating that they couldn’t find anything against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 other accused in the case. Jafri, in her fresh petition, demanded that the SIT report be rejected and that all the accused, including Modi, be chargesheeted. She also sought that the case be transferred to an “ independent agency”. In her petition, Jafri alleged that the SIT had adequate documents and statements to come to a prima facie finding against all the accused.

Source Mail today e-paper dtd 16/4/13, p 6 
See also: 
Tehelka, September 24, 2011 Issue 38 Volume 8
The question is not whether the Gujarat CM is guilty. The debate is whether his role in the 2002 riots can be nailed in a court of law
The biggest question now before the judiciary is not whether Modi is guilty or innocent. The 600-page inquiry report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) before the Supreme Court last November has chronicled dozens of instances to establish that Modi’s conduct during and after the riots was partisan, communal and influenced by political and communal agenda. The debate now is whether Modi’s acts of omission and commission could be nailed in a court of law. And the challenge staring at the SIT is to correctly interpret the legal material facts and decide its future course of action. The Indian judicial system itself will be put through a litmus test as the case against Modi proceeds hereafter. There are only two logical possibilities. Either the SIT will file a chargesheet against Modi and others and accuse them of hatching a larger conspiracy, or the probe agency will file a closure report, saying that they could not find prosecutable evidence against the Gujarat chief minister. 
But even in the second scenario, the Supreme Court has ensured that the riot victims would get a chance to present their case before the trial court and then the final decision to frame charges would rest with the judge. 

And even if the trial court judge, after listening to the victims, decides against framing charges and putting Modi on trial, the complainants would have the legal remedy available to approach the superior courts right up to the Supreme Court. So anyone with a little common sense can see that Modi’s tryst with the law has only just begunOn 12 September, Modi claimed in an open letter to fellow ‘countrymen’ that “the unhealthy environment created by the unfounded and false allegations made against me and the government of Gujarat after the 2002 riots has come to an end.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Modi’s misery would have ended only if the apex court had dismissed the special leave petition by Zakia Jafri asking for an investigation into Modi’s role, and pronounced that hereafter there was no need for further judicial proceedings. But the court has not even remotely suggested that. Far from clearing Modi of the riots taint, it has asked the SIT to place its final report before the trial court in Ahmedabad trying the Gulberg Society massacre case.

And while doing so, the apex court has also ensured that the inconsistencies in the SIT’s first report, which despite finding Modi guilty on several serious counts, had concluded that “the substantiated allegations did not throw up material that would justify further action under the law”, are also redressed by the SIT before concluding its report. The SIT had notably found Modi guilty of illegally positioning two controversial ministers in the police control room, of making communally inflammatory speeches in the middle of the riots and thus sending a tacit signal to the government machinery, of giving lucrative postings to police officers who showed laxity while punishing those who tried to control the rioting mob, of appointing public prosecutors with VHP and RSS backgrounds in sensitive riot cases, of destroying crucial police control room records and at least on a dozen other counts, all of which displayed his communal and partisan conduct as chief minister.
As a chief minister, Modi didn’t need to patrol the streets with the violent mobs. All he had to do was look the other way and send such covert signals to the entire machinery that would have meant sanction from the top. All the direct and circumstantial material placed by the SIT proved that there was an unwritten writ to allow riots and once the carnage was over, to subvert the process of justice. But still the SIT had shown its unwillingness to proceed further. After perusing the SIT report in March this year, amicus curiae Ramachandran had told the court that there is a mismatch between the findings of the SIT and their watered-down conclusions. The court then asked the amicus curiae to visit Gujarat and independently meet witnesses and do a comprehensive evaluation of all material facts collected by the SIT. In July, the amicus curiae submitted an exhaustive report prepared after field visits to Gujarat. It’s widely believed that in his report the amicus has differed with the SIT on what constitutes prosecutable evidence and what doesn’t. In its order, the apex court has stated that “before submission of its report, it will be open to the SIT to obtain from the amicus curiae copies of his reports submitted to this court”. Though the court has used the word ‘may’, legal experts believe that not only will the SIT have to address the issues raised by Ramachandran, they would also have to streamline their own findings with that of the amicus..