Gujarat cannot ignore the evidence anymore

  • Stavan Desai Stavan Desai, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 10, 2009 01:33 IST

For seven years they remained free. But now the tide is starting to turn against those who got away with blood on their hands during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) — which has reopened the 10 most serious cases of communal killings after riots broke out on February 28, 2002 — has collected records of cellphone calls between politicians and police officers during the worst moments of the violence. These records are being used by the SIT to nail contradictions in the statements made under oath by police and politicians before the Nanavati-Shah Commission about their presence and movements during the communal frenzy.

The SIT was set up by the Supreme Court last year after the Gujarat government had closed more than 2,000 riot cases, including the gruesome Naroda-Patiya and Gulbarg Society killings.

Deputy Superintendent of Police K.G. Erda, the first police officer to be arrested for allegedly abetting the rioters, was found to have registered a false FIR about the Gulbarg Society massacre of 42 people, including former MP Ehsan Jafri.

Erda, who is the complainant in the case, said in the FIR that a mob of 15,000 to 20,000 people attacked the small housing colony and he fired 60 rounds to disperse the mob. But SIT found that none from the mob had suffered any injuries from a police bullet.

Records of Erda’s cellphone (9825116222) reveal he was at the spot during the killings. He was “waiting for police help to arrive”, he later told the commission under oath. The SIT also found the 15 policemen who were with Erda in his official vehicle had not been provided any weapons.

The only injuries suffered by a few members of the mob were from bullets fired by Jafri in self-defence when no police help came despite his frantic calls to then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pande and Joint Commissioner of Police M.K. Tandon, SIT has found.

Meanwhile, Maya Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel sought to surrender their passports to the SIT two days back. This was one of the conditions on which the court had granted them bail. But SIT officials refused to take the passports, saying they did not require them.

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