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Godhra case: Modi aides file affidavits

Three personal secretaries to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told the Nanavati-Mehta judicial enquiry commission, probing the 2002 Godhra train carnage and communal riots that followed it, that they had spoken many times to Vishwa Hindu Parishad state general secretary Jaideep Patel between February 27 and March 1, 2002.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2010 09:13 IST

Three personal secretaries to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told the Nanavati-Mehta judicial enquiry commission, probing the 2002 Godhra train carnage and communal riots that followed it, that they had spoken many times to Vishwa Hindu Parishad state general secretary Jaideep Patel between February 27 and March 1, 2002.

Patel is an accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre case and the period in question saw the communal rioting at its worst.

The information in affidavits filed Friday followed the commission's order directing the three aides - O.Prakash Singh, Sanjay Bhavsar and Tanmay Mehta - who handled the chief minister's telephones, to submit details of their conversations with Patel and the others during the period in question.

The order came on a plea by the Jansangharsh Manch, on behalf of the riot victims, demanding Modi and six others be summoned for cross examinations to probe their role in the riots. It based its plea on the record of mobile phone conversations between the chief minister's office and some police officers and riot accused between February 25 and March 4, 2002. The commission, however, did not feel the immediate need for summoning Modi.

The affidavits by the three aides, however, did not mention whether these calls were put through to the chief minister or not. Both Bhavsar and Mehta said that they remember having called Patel many times but do not remember the nature of the conversations as they took place "a long time ago". They also said that no record of any calls is maintained in the chief minister's office.

Bhavsar admitted that the chief minister had spoken to then home minister Gordhandas Jhadapia after his return from the scene of the train carnage in Godhra but could offer little else information beyond this. He observed that he was told to make numerous calls as part of his job but it would be very difficult to remember details of both names and conversations.

The Manch, aggrieved with the ruling of the commission on Modi's appearance, has already approached the Gujarat High Court on the issue. The court has given the state advocate general time till February 14 to know the commission's decision on the demand.