For the first time since the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, a confidential report by a Supreme Court appointed lawyer has recommended registration of criminal cases against senior police officers posted in the state then.
In his report, senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) by the SC, has proposed booking these policemen for allegedly causing death due negligence and for disobeying law in the discharge of their official duties, HT has learnt.
The report could spell trouble for at least three former Gujarat police chiefs, all of whom held key positions during the riots and were named in the complaint of Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ahesan Jafri who was burnt alive on February 28, 2002, along with 68 others.
Apart from the top three, others in trouble include senior IPS officers MK Tandon and PB Gondia, against whom adverse inferences had been drawn in the SIT. The panel, however, had not sought criminal proceedings against them, but recommended only disciplinary action.
Ramachandran’s report does not agree with the SIT. His report is believed to have concluded that a criminal case under specific offences of the IPC can be made out against them.
Tandon, now retired, was a JCP in 2002, Gondia was Ahmedabad DCP. Both were responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the Gulberg Society area. They could be booked under section 304A IPC (causing death due to negligence) and also under section 166 (disobeying law as public servants to cause hurt to others).
For the three former DGPs — K Chakravarti, AK Bhargava and PC Pande — the immediate fallout will be that the trial court, which had deferred the issue since it was before the SC, will now have to decide on Zakia’s complaint which names them. Chakravarti was the state DGP during the riots, Pande was the Ahmedabad commissioner and Bhargava was in charge of the state police administration.
Jafri had repeatedly called Pande before he was killed.