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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Gujarat police was “helpless against frenzied mob”

Ahmedabad: When 89 Muslims were butchered in Naroda Patia and 42 Muslims burnt to death in Gulbarg Society, Joint Commissioner Police, M.K. Tandon was in the far-off Daryapur trying to control a less serious situation. This fact came to light during the cross examinations before Justice Nanavati Shah Commission which is enquiring into the circumstances that led to the Godhra train fire and Gujarat riots. Tandon said on 3 August that he could not reach Gulbarg Society and Naroda Patia because the condition in Daryapur was equally bad. Had he left the area the whole Daryapur would have been set on fire.

The then Joint Police Commissioner Shivanand Jha, said before the commission that because of the burning of Sabarmati Express and death of so many persons the mob was so furious that in spite of best efforts of police it could not control the situation and thus destruction of properties, arson and killings on such a large scale took place. Mukul Sinha, a lawyer representing an NGO, asked Jha why the police could not protect 12 restaurants of Muslims on Aharam Road and CG Road in Ahmedabad, and why no action was taken by the police when a religious place in Paldi area was kept under seige by the mob for three hours and when the tomb of poet Wali Gujarati was being demolished? Jha could not give satisfactory answers and said that he would have to see the records. Both the police officers said that wherever they could not reach in person, they had ordered their subordinate officers to reach such affected areas along with a force.

Tandon said that in Naroda Patia riots started because a Hindu youth was crushed to death by the vehicle of a Muslim. He, however, could not give any answer when asked as to why the death of the youth by the vehicle was not mentioned in the FIR.

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