Nanavati Commission on 2002 riots clears Gujarat govt, Cong says findings expected
The over 2,500-page, nine-volume report, which was submitted in 2014, gave a clean chit to the then chief minister of the state, Narendra Modi, and members of his ministerial council, but found that police had acted incompetently in dealing with some incidents of violence.Updated: Dec 12, 2019 06:25 IST
The Congress on Wednesday questioned the final report of the Nanavati Commission on the 2002 Godhra train-burning incident and the ensuing Gujarat riots, which was tabled in the state assembly on Wednesday by minister of state for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja.
The over 2,500-page, nine-volume report, which was submitted in 2014, gave a clean chit to the then chief minister of the state, Narendra Modi, and members of his ministerial council, but found that police had acted incompetently in dealing with some incidents of violence.
The report found that the riots were not premeditated, but had stemmed from the “Godhra incident [due to which] large sections of Hindu community became very angry and ultimately indulged in violent attacks on Muslims and their properties.”
Reacting to the report, senior Gujarat Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia tweeted on Wednesday, “Gujarat-2002 riots: 1263 innocent people died including S-6 coach victims. Brought charred dead bodies from Godhara to A’bad (Ahmedabad) for exhibition against police direction & law. 2 ministers taken over DGP control room. Officials & a minister convicted. How clean chit?”
“Gujarat-2002 riots: SC: The modern day Neroswere looking elsewhere when innocent children & women were burning, & were deliberating how the perpetrators can be protected. PM Bajpaiji [Atal Bihari Vajpayee]: Rajdharma nibhao (follow Raj Dharma) & asked for Modiji’s resignation. How clean chit?” he added in another tweet.
On February 27, 2002, 59 HIndu kar sevaks (volunteers) died in an incident of fire in coach S6 of the Sabarmati Express. The following day, communal riots broke out in the state, which claimed over 1,200 lives in close to three months. There were widespread allegations that the state had allowed Hindu mobs to rampage through Muslim localities.
“The commission has come to the conclusion that riots were not a conspiracy and it gives clean chit to (the) then CM Modi, his government and officers,” said Jadeja.
The two-member commission, comprising retired justices G.T Nanavati of the Supreme Court and Akshay Mehta of Gujarat high court, was formed in 2002 and sought 25 extensions. It submitted the first part of the commission’s report — on the Godhra train-burning incident —in 2008, which it found to be a premeditated incident.
It also questioned Modi in connection with the murder of former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri in the riots.
Jafri, in whose house in Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad several Muslims had taken refuge, was one among 68 killed in that area by rioters on February 28, 2002. His wife, Zakia, alleged that Jafri had called Modi among other top officials for help. However, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe incidents of rioting gave the then CM a clean chit in this incident -- this was further upheld by the Gujarat HC, following which Zakia Jafri moved the Supreme Court, challenging the SIT’s finding.
Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda said the party will come out with a detailed response once it has gone through the voluminous report. “We will first go into the details of the report and then comment on it. But broadly speaking the inquiry commission sat for 17 years and lakhs of rupees were spent on it. The findings are on the expected lines that the report will be influenced by the government,” he said.
The final report also remarked negatively on three police officers — former state director general of police R B Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma and Sanjiv Bhatt — all of whom testified before the commission on the orders that the police received during the riots.
“They have passed negative remarks against three IPS officers who had exposed the loopholes in the government’s efforts to control riots. They have been put in the dock while those who were accused and whom the people believed were involved in the riots have been given the clean chit,” Chavda added.
Gujarat deputy chief minister, and BJP leader, Nitin Patel said the Congress was frustrated and had no issues to take up. “Different commissions have given a clean chit to PM Modi and other ministers. Event the SIT formed by the SC exonerated the Gujarat government,” he said.