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Tuesday 6 December 2011

Godhra: panel displeased over ex-Minister's absence

Godhra: panel displeased over ex-Minister's absence

Manas Dasgupta

Citing panchayat elections, I.K. Jadeja requested cross-examination be rescheduled
The G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission, which is probing the 2002 Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat, on Monday expressed strong displeasure over the former Urban Development Minister, I.K. Jadeja, absenting himself from cross-examination.
“The reason given for his absence is totally unreasonable,” Justice Nanavati told Mr. Jadeja's advocate. He said the former Minister would now have to comply with the dates to be fixed at the convenience of the Jan Sangharsh Manch, who had “wasted a day because of his last-minute decision to absent himself.”
Mr. Jadeja's cross-examination by Manch advocate Mukul Sinha was fixed well in advance but the former Minister, who is now the State BJP spokesman, did not notify the commission secretariat of the inconvenience of the date till the last moment. Around 11 a.m., with the session set to begin, the commission secretariat received a fax message that said Mr. Jadeja was “very busy with the panchayat elections” and requested that his cross-examination be rescheduled.
The last-minute message did not go down well with the commission members, and neither did his reasons. The commission observed that Mr. Jadeja had no reason not to intimate the commission in time of his desire to postpone when the schedule for the village panchayat elections to be held on December 29 had been declared more than a week ago.
Mr. Jadeja's advocate himself said he was not aware of the former Minister's decision to absent himself. Mr. Jadeja, who is also the chairman of the Swarnim Gujarat Programme Implementation Committee and enjoys the status of a Cabinet Minister, was earlier questioned “in camera” by the commission, following which the Manch, which represents the riot victims, had demanded that it be given an opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Jadeja since he was one of the key persons likely to “know the truth behind the police movements in controlling the riots on the fateful day”.
Though he then held only the Urban Development portfolio, Mr. Jadeja had, on the instruction of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, stationed himself at the State police control room on February 28, 2002, and was believed to have been directing the movements of the police force as messages started pouring in about the communal clashes in different parts of the State. 

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