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Friday, 27 January 2012

“Substantial evidence” to prosecute Modi: Sanjiv Bhatt to SIT

The suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, has strongly urged
the head of the Special Investigation Team, R.K. Raghavan, to proceed with
the prosecution of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as there was
“substantial direct evidence as well as overwhelming circumstantial
evidence” to establish his alleged complicity in the anti-Muslim pogrom of
2002.

Mr. Bhatt, who shot off yet another letter to Mr. Raghavan on Tuesday (his
fourth this month), said he was writing in response to reports that the SIT
had sought legal opinion on whether or not to prosecute Mr. Modi for the
post-Godhra violence. Drawing on his depositions before the SIT, Mr. Bhatt
said he had personally met and alerted Mr. Modi to the deteriorating law
and order situation on February 28, 2002, focusing especially on “the
imminent carnage at Gulberg Society.”

He said he met Mr. Modi twice that day and “by the time of the second
meeting… the carnage at Gulberg Society had begun in full view of the
police personnel who were deployed there... The Chief Minister was
accordingly briefed about the complete police inaction and complicity. The
Chief Minister was also explicitly informed about the imminent threat to
the lives of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri and his family members.”

Mr. Bhatt also drew the SIT's attention to the “numerous Situation Reports
and Alert Messages” sent “contemporaneously to the Office of the Chief
Minister,” especially concerning the “developing violent situation and
imminent carnage at Gulberg Society.”

He said Mr. Modi was also kept informed on telephone about the
developments. A fax alert dated February 28, 2002 attached to the letter to
Mr. Raghavan said: “As informed telephonically to the Hon'ble CM, ex-MP
Ehsan Jafri and his family members residing at Gulmarg Society [Mr. Bhatt
told *The Hindu* the alert had erroneously referred to Gulberg as Gulmarg
because that is the first time he had heard of the housing society],
Chamanpura, Meghaninagar have been summoned and are being attacked by a
Hindu mob in the presence of police *bundobust* [deployment]. The lives of
Ehsan Jafri and other family members are in imminent danger…” The alert was
addressed to the Personal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the Personal
Secretary to the Minister of State (Home) with copies to the Home Secretary
and the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad.

Mr. Bhatt said that instead of reacting to the alerts, Mr. Modi instructed
him (Mr. Bhatt) to dig out details of “past instances wherein Mr. Jafri had
supposedly opened fire on Hindus during earlier communal riots in
Ahmedabad.” Mr. Bhatt said that as he emerged from the meeting, he got the
information that Mr. Modi was “independently getting real-time information
updates on the developments that were taking place at Gulberg Society.”

Mr. Bhatt said the Chief Minister's conduct made it “unambiguously and
absolutely clear” that he was not interested in discharging his
“constitutionally mandated legal obligation of directing the police force
to act with all firmness in order to protect the life and property of
helpless citizens.” Instead, he wanted to collect information that could be
used to build a case that the Gulberg carnage was triggered by Mr. Jafri
himself.

The police officer argued further that these “acts of commission and
omission” by the Chief Minister amounted to “facilitation and abetment of
the gruesome carnage at Gulberg Society” and he was liable to be charged
for abetment under Sections 109, 112, 115, and 117 of the Indian Penal Code
and for concealing design to commit an offence under Sections 118 and 119.

Later, Mr. Bhatt told *The Hindu* that he had repeatedly made two requests
to the SIT: to allow his statement to be recorded before a magistrate under
Section 164 of the Cr.PC. and to examine control room inspectors and other
officers who were in a position to testify on the developments of February
27 and 28, 2002, and who could, by their statements, support or negate Mr.
Bhatt's claim that he attended a late night meeting held at Mr. Modi's
residence.

The police officer said: “My depositions to the SIT have been under Section
161 of the Cr.PC which does not even require my signature. However, a
statement under 164 of the Cr.PC cuts both ways. It is legally binding, but
if I have lied, it also allows my prosecution for perjury. Is that too much
to ask?”