Top Gujarat Police and administrative officials, including the present state police chief, were “hand-in-glove” with rioters during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots, eyewitnesses have told the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).
In a chilling account of one of the worst massacres, in which a 74-year old former MP was burnt alive along with 42 others and 31 people went missing, surviving witnesses have demanded “interrogation” of all top police officials.
“P.C. Pande, the state’s Director General of Police, was Ahmedabad Police Commi-ssioner at the time of the riots. He visited Gulbarg Society in the morning and promised protection and reinforcements. A few moments later, more than 10,000 rioters attacked us,” an eyewitness told the SIT in a confidential statement.
“I know the names of 11 police officials who were hand-in-glove with the rioters, and instead of maintaining law and order, they were allowing the riots to spread freely” another witness deposed.
“K.S. Chakra-barti, DGP at the time of the riots, K. Nityanandan, who was Home Secretary, and P.K. Mishra, the then private secretary to the chief minister, should all be booked,” he added.
“Gulbarg Society is within the city and the inaction by the police brass, especially after former MP Ehsan Jafri made at least 20 phone calls, is beyond comprehension,” a third witness said.
Jafri’s hands and legs were cut off and he was later burnt alive by a mob angry with him for providing shelter to nearly 150 Muslim neighbours.
There had been no action against any police official for seven years despite serious allegations against them. Following large-scale complaints of inaction by the state government in probing the riots cases, the Supreme Court last year
appointed the SIT to probe 10 major riots.
Teesta Setalwad of Citizens for Justice and Peace, one of the witnesses, told the SIT: “The police refused to acknowledge the fact that 31 persons went missing after the Gulbarg Society massacre. Local police officials destroyed evidence by ordering the burning to ashes of bodies that could not identified.”
Rupa Mody, who lost her 14-year-old son in the attack, said: “The police misquoted us and deliberately recorded wrong statements.” Mody, whose life inspired the film Parzania, said the SIT had provided a ray of hope to victims. “The arrest of a police officer and warrants against a minister shows an impartial probe seems to be on. I hope our statements will be taken seriously,” she said.
The SIT is scheduled to submit its report to the Supreme Court on February 16. It has so far arrested 54 accused in the Gulbarg Society case alone.