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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Vajpayee was warned of CM's riot role

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 17, 2011
First Published: 23:48 IST(17/9/2011) | Last Updated: 23:52 IST(17/9/2011)

A confidential letter by former chief justice of India JS Verma - who was National Human Rights Commission chairman during the 2002 Gujarat riots - to then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee contradicts chief minister Narendra Modi's claim that his government had dealt sternly with the riots situation.

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Justice Verma, who visited Gujarat twice during the riots, strongly criticised the role of the Modi government in a five-page letter to Vajpayee.

He also raised serious doubts on the impartiality of the probe panel set up by the state government to investigate the riots.

"A serious travesty of law will occur with potentially grave consequences to the reputation of the country in case our nation falls short in rendering justice to the victims and their families of the Godhra train-burning incident on February 27, 2002 and the riots that followed," he wrote.

He said he was "profoundly concerned" whether the perpetrators of violence will be prosecuted and punished and "whether riot victims and those related to them will be allowed to avail legal remedies they are entitled to".

"Regrettably, in spite of the NHRC recommendations, not enough has been done to assure the victims, our country and the world at large that the instruments of state are proceeding with adequate integrity and diligence to remedy the wrongs that have occurred," the former CJI stated.

Justice Verma warned Vajpayee that the main institutions of the country, including the judiciary, "may fail to prove equal to the challenge posed by the large-scale human rights violations in Gujarat" in case the government did not act against those responsible for the riots.

He also questioned the credibility of the Nanavati Commission, which was set up to probe the Godhra train burning and the riots that followed.

"I am saddened to observe that the appointment of Justice Nanavati-Shah Commission by the state government has not at all allayed fears of the riots victims that justice would be done," he told Vajpayee.

In its first report made public in September 2008, the Nanavati Commission concluded that there was no evidence of any lapse on the part of the state government in providing relief to victims of communal riots.

The report was widely criticised for showing undue haste in clearing the Modi-led government of any wrongdoing during the riots.

The commission is yet to submit its final report.

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