Ghost of 2002 riots in Gujarat continue to haunt Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as a senior IPS officer of the state Sanjiv Bhatt has told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that Modi had asked police officials to "let Hindus vent out their anger against Muslims following the Sabarmati express train burning incident in Godhra on February 27, 2002."
In the meeting, the top police brass was told by their boss (Modi) that emotions were running high among Hindus against the minority community, Bhatt has claimed in his affidavit that was sent to the Apex Court on April 14.
DIG Bhatt, currently serving principal of police training school in Junagadh, was superintendent of police (SP) in the state intelligence bureau during 2002 and he claimed to have attended a meeting the CM had called wherein he "instructed the officials to let Hindus vent out their anger against Muslims so that repeat of Godhra-like incident never happens in the state."
The said meeting is said to have taken place on February 27, 2002 at chief minister's official residence in the ministerial enclave in the state capital Gandhinagar. Around eight top police officials of the state were present in the meeting where Modi had "ordered let Muslims be taught a lesson."
"I filed an affidavit on 14th April in the Supreme Court. I have gone on oath when recording this statement," he told HT over phone.
According to him, since he served in the state IB, he was privy to a lot of confidential information, which he never revealed anywhere till he was summoned by the Apex Court constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) under former director of CBI RK Raghavan.
"I was never summoned by any forum to appear before this. It was for the first time that I was summoned by SIT in 2009," he added.
When asked about his letters to the Gujarat government seeking security for himself and his family, he said he had annexed three letters in the affidavit that were written to the state government. "I have still not got any security despite three letters," he said.
However, Gujarat's additional chief secretary Home and also in charge of general administration department Balwant Singh said he has not received any letter from Bhatt seeking security or protection for his family.
Besides Modi, Bhatt has also implicated the SIT for "trying to protect the Gujarat government instead of taking the probe to its logical conclusion regarding the 2002 riots." In his affidavit, he has stated that he had no "faith in the SIT and therefore he is approaching the Apex Court."
According to sources, SIT has recorded his statement on the 2002 riots three times but the probe agency has not acted on the information Bhatt disclosed in his statement. Bhatt had also offered to give a confessional statement under section 164 of CRPF, which is recorded before a magistrate and thus cannot be retracted subsequently.
It may be noted that even NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which is a co-petitioner in the Gujarat riots petition in the Apex Court, has accused the SIT of going soft on the Gujarat government.
Bhatt is the second IPS officer of Gujarat who has exposed the role of the Modi government in the ghastly communal riots that had claimed 1200 lives in the state in 2002.
Previously, RB Sreekumar, now retired, had also filed a number of affidavits before the state government appointed Nanavati commission providing details of how the "riots were allowed to take place in the state."
The riots in 2002 took place following the burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express on February 27, 2002, in which 59 kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh were killed. The train burning incident sparked off the Gujarat riots in which 1,200 people were killed.