Gordhan Zadaphia, junior home minister of Gujarat during the 2002 Godhra riots, has put Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the dock by saying he (Zadaphia) was "not party to or aware of" several decisions that allegedly led to the killing of 1,200 Muslims.
A highly placed source gave HT access to the letter written by Zadaphia, who was expelled from the BJP in 2007.
Zadaphia has written to the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team, which has indicted him for his role in the riots, saying he did not know who took the "decision to bring the charred bodies of 59 kar sevaks", killed in the Godhra train carnage on February 27, 2002, to Ahmedabad.
The bodies were put on public display at Ahmedabad's Sola Hospital the same evening. This is believed to have incited one of the worst communal riots in India.
In his deposition before the Nanavati Commission, set up to probe the riots, the then additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narain, had said in 2005-06 that the "state government" had issued the order to bring the dead bodies to Ahmedabad. But he had not named the official who issued the order.
Modi was, and remains, in charge of the home portfolio.
State spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas declined to comment on Zadaphia's revelation.
Incidentally, Godhra executive magistrate Mahendra Nalvaya in a written order authorised the health department in Godhra to hand over the dead bodies to VHP leader Jaidip Patel, who brought them to Ahmedabad. Patel, too, refused to comment on the issue.
Elaborating on the sequence of events following the burning of the Sabarmati Express, Zadaphia has said: "Despite being MoS for home, I was not aware and not even informed that health minister Ashok Bhatt was sent to Godhra."
He has also denied any knowledge of a controversial meeting Modi had convened on the night of February 27 at his residence following his return from Godhra.
"I was not aware of nor informed about any such meeting and I was not present there. I returned from Godhra early morning on February 28."
Zadaphia has also denied the knowledge of why two ministers, Ashok Bhatt and I K Jadeja were present at the Ahmedabad police control room on February 28 and 29 when the riots were on.