Much of the future of investigation into the Gujarat riots will depend on the truth or lack of it in the testimony of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
It transpired in April last year Bhatt had told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in ameeting had asked police officials to “let Hindus vent their anger against Muslims following the Sabarmati Express train-burning incident in Godhra on February 27, 2002”. Bhatt said he was present in the meeting, which took place at Modi’s residence the same day.
The police brass were supposedly told by Modi that emotions were running high among Hindus against the minority community, Bhatt claimed in his affidavit that was sent to the Supreme Court on April 14, 2011.
Bhatt was then superintendent of police (SP) in the state intelligence branch and he claimed to have attended a meeting the CM had called where in he “instructed the officials to let Hindus vent their anger against Muslims so that (a) repeat of Godhra like incident never happens in the state”. However, disputing Sanjiv Bhatt’s presence in the meeting, K Chakravarthy, who was then Gujarat director-general of police, said Bhatt was not present in the meeting.
“I have deposed before the SIT probing the case at the instance of the Apex Court and during my deposition I said that Bhatt was not present,’ Chakravarthy, who is now settled in Mumbai, said.
Recently, a former top police officer came out in support of Bhatt’s version that Modi had instructed senior officials to allow Hindus to vent their anger following the Godhra train-burning incident on February 27, 2002.
In his application filed before the Supreme Court on May 23 last year, Subramanian stated that he had met Chakravarthi and also PC Pande, who was then the police commissioner of Ahmedabad, shortly after the riots.
“The applicant (Subramanian) enquired from Mr Chakravarti as to what had transpired in the 27 February meeting. Chakravarti candidly told that the chief minister had said to those present in the meeting that a bandh had been called by the VHP the next day to protest the Godhra killings,” he wrote.
“The CM’s party, the BJP was supporting the bandh and he (CM) said though there may be law and order problems, the officers should respect Hindu sentiments and act accordingly,” Subramanian’s statement said.