The Special Investigation Team (SIT), appointed by the Supreme court to reinvestigate 10 of the worst 2002 communal riots cases, on Monday arrested a suspended police inspector for destruction of evidence in connection with the killing of 14 Muslims in the north Gujarat town of Visnagar.
The accused has been identified as NK Patel.
Patel was in-charge of the town police station when on February 28, 2002, 14 persons traveling in a van were attacked by rioters and burnt alive.
During investigations by the SIT, it was found that Patel, with the intention of helping the 79 accused subsequently arrested for the killings, did not conduct proper investigations or collect required evidence. “We found that this was done so that the accused could secure bail easily,” said an SIT official.
Patel has been in jail for the last two years for allegedly arresting the wrong accused in a murder case. He was arrested two years back by the state Crime Investigation Department for shielding the men who killed one Gaurang Modi over rivalry in Unjha town of Mehsana district.
On Monday, Patel was arrested in the riot case when he was brought to court during hearing of the case.
Patel is the second police officer to be arrested by the SIT. It had earlier arrested Deputy Superintendent of Police KG Erda, who was PI of Gulbarg Society where 38 people, including former MP Eshan Jafri, were allegedly killed in a communal riot.
Meanwhile, the official toll for the Gujarat riots will now be fixed at 1,180 with the state government set to declare 228 “missing” people as dead. As per law, any person who is missing for seven years is declared dead after the stipulated period is over.
(With PTI input)