Justice derailed in Gujarat: book

Ahmedabad: Gujarat post-Godhra riots has re-surfaced as former chief of Gujarat Intelligence Bureau, R B Sreekumar, has made shocking revelations in his book Gujarat: Behind the Curtain, about the functioning of the state police department in the aftermath of Godhra train carnage. The ex-bureaucrat has disclosed facts which not only bring the role of the then state government under scanner but also thrown light on the actions of Muslim IPS officers, who also chose to provide a free hand to saffron rioters, particularly in Naroda Patiya.

At least six Muslim IAS and seven IPS officers at the time were working in close coordination with the government and chose to turn a blind eye on the rioters linked to saffron bodies.

“At least two Muslim officers, including a commandant, even defied my “written orders” to give shelter to 500 Muslims from Naroda Patiya on the state reserve police (SRP) premises. Consequently, they had become victims of riots… Most of the 96 people killed in the evening in Naroda Patiya were reportedly from this group of Muslims… No action was initiated for defying written order of ADGP (AU) and no report was made,” Sreekumar has written in his book.

Sreekumar also mentions the effort he made to expose those within the establishment responsible for orchestrating the pogrom. During his five-month stint as intelligence chief, beginning immediately after the trains were burned in Godhra, Sreekumar was given illegal orders from higher authorities, and not allowed to take action against those who were bent on sparking communal tension on a large scale.

Gujarat: Behind the Curtain, was published in New Delhi. The former IPS officer, a native of Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram, had been in the news for his relentless fight against the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, alleging that Modi had given a free hand to the rioters for two days following the killing of 59 Hindu pilgrims at the Godhra railway station in 2002.

Sreekumar had been alleging that the criminal justice system was subverted in Gujarat after the Godhra incident with the tacit support of the government. He has thrown light on the role of intelligence agencies after the Godhra incident showing how policemen and bureaucrats responded during the riots. It is worth noting that this is the first time that SIT has recorded the statements of Sreekumar which will prove to be of pivotal importance for the investigation agency. A reliable source said, “The statements were recorded not in connection with a particular case, but in connection with the acts of omission and commission during the riots by a few people. The statements were recorded in connection with the conspiracy of the riots.”

Zakia Jafri had filed an application in the apex court challenging the decision of the Gujarat High Court to dismiss the plea which sought registration of a complaint against Modi and others for their alleged role in the Gulbarg Society riots of 2002.

Sreekumar said  that he was subsequently superseded by three of his juniors. However, he was promoted after he filed a petition before a tribunal, but by then he had already retired.

According to SIT sources, senior IPS officer and IG SRP (Rajkot) Rahul Sharma was also quizzed in this connection. Sharma has been named as a witness in Zakia’s complaint on account of his submission and a CD containing call details of some ruling party politicians, VHP activists and police officers during the riots. It was on the basis of his CD that former minister Maya Kodnani and former VHP leader Jaideep Patel were arrested.

Abdul Hafiz Lakhani