Gujarat top cop may be paying for his ‘initiative’: Countdown to Judgment day of Zakia Jafri case begins


As the countdown to the Judgement day of Zakia Jafri Case brings to you some important reports filed in Indian Newspapers over the years on Narendra Modi and his role in Gujrat riots.


Gujarat top cop may be paying for his ‘initiative’
Manoj Mitta | TNN

New Delhi: In his autobiography, L K Advani claimed credit for preventing what would have been one of the biggest massacres in a Bhavnagar madrassa during the Gujarat riots. On March 2, 2002, a 10,000-strong mob armed with lethal weapons had besieged the madrassa which sheltered, among others, 400 students. Advani wrote that, responding to an alert from Somnath Chatterjee to the danger of the madrassa being set on fire, he had immediately spoken to Narendra Modi and his party leaders in Gujarat. ‘‘I felt relieved to learn later that nothing untoward had happened,’’ Advani wrote.
But from the testimony before the Nanavati Commission, Advani’s intervention seems to have had little role in the rescue of the madrassa and its inmates. For, in a departure from the pattern of apathy or collusion across Gujarat in the early phase of the riots, the police in Bhavnagar had displayed the will to come between the mob and the madrassa even before the then Gujarat BJP chief, Rajendrasinh Rana, called up the then SP of that district, Rahul Sharma, on the evening of that fateful day.
Ironically, the same police officer, who had led his team from the front and thwarted the mob by opening fire, is now being threatened with disciplinary action by the Narendra Modi government.
The provocation for the show-cause notice served on Sharma last week was the even more remarkable initiative displayed by him in collecting data on the mobile phone calls made in Ahmedabad during the first week of the riots.
The data gathered from the two mobile phone service providers then in operation has yielded vital evidence on political and administrative complicity in the riots. Not surprising, the phone call CDs had a bearing on the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team’s report confirming some of the most serious allegations against Modi. The notice to Sharma, issued a day after the SIT report was made public by Tehelka magazine, asked him to explain why he should not be charged for submitting those CDs to various inquiry bodies, including the SIT, without the government’s permission.
According to the SIT report, given confidentially to the Supreme Court on the complaint of riot victim Zakia Jafri, Modi was specifically asked on the basis of those CDs whether he had been telephonically in touch with riot accused Jaideep Patel, Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi after the riots had erupted on February 28, 2002. More importantly, the material provided by the CDs was a key reason why the SIT in the same report recommended action against two senior police officers, M K Tandon and P B Gondia, for various acts of omission and commission.
This follows the breakthrough already made in the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam massacre cases in 2009 when citing, among other things, these very phone call CDs, the SIT arrested Kodnani, who was a minister in Modi’s government, and Patel, who was VHP’s general secretary.
So, how did Sharma come to put together these phone call CDs of immense evidentiary value? It was the unintended consequence of the decision to transfer him out of Bhavnagar on March 27, 2002, soon after he had resisted political pressures to release 21 people arrested in connection with the attack on a mosque.
In his next posting, which was in Ahmedabad as DCP control room, Sharma was fortuitously entrusted the work of assisting the crime branch in investigating highprofile Naroda Patiya and Gulbarg cases. It was in the course of this investigation that Sharma sought the mobile phone data to verify allegations against police officers and political leaders.
This is how he explained his initiative in his deposition before the Nanavati Commission on October 30, 2004. ‘‘Ordinarily, in riot cases, we arrest the people who are named but these cases being of a different type, we thought it fit to collect evidence before we took action. We had, therefore, collected data from AT&T (now Idea) and Cel-Froce (now Vodaphone) the details regarding all the calls received or sent by all people holding mobile phones within the city of Ahmedabad.
‘‘After this information was received by the Crime Branch, P P Pandey, who was then joint commissioner of police, handed over the information to me. Since I had called for that information, those CDs were handed over to me. Since those CDs were really a part of information received during the investigation, I requested Pandey to keep the original CDs along with the case file. I prepared one copy of that information and that has remained with me.’’

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