Modi’s lies to the SIT

During his questioning by the SIT, Mr Modi blatantly lied on several occasions, even contradicted himself in the answer to later questions. Yet there was no challenge by the toothless SIT

Modi declaring the Godhra attack as pre-planned

The allegation was that Modi and his ministers had incited the violence rather than calming things down by making irresponsible statements about the Godhra incident. Not only did Mr Modi blatant lie to the SIT, but contradicted himself in the answer to a later question. Yet there was no challenge by the toothless SIT

Question 10, SIT interrogation of Modi.

SIT: Did you declare the Godhra incident as pre-planned and that Pakistani/ISI hands were behind the Godhra incident? If so, on what basis?

Modi: I did not utter any such words in the assembly. Of course, the media had put some questions to me about it, but I had told [them] that nothing could be said until the investigation was completed.

There are numerous media reports quoting Modi calling Godhra a “pre-planned attack” much before even Gujarat govt’s investigation were completed. It seems the official press release from CM on Feb 27 had called Godhra incident “a preplanned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism”.

For example, this report from the day itself, mentions it.

Attack was planned?

Mr. Modi hinted at the possibility of the attack being a “planned” one, pointing out that the train was “attacked” at the Godhra railway platform, where it halts for only about three minutes.

Also, check this, has links to several sources on this point.

Allegedly, At about 7.30 p.m. on Akashwani Gujarati radio broadcast, Modi stated that the incident at Godhra was a preplanned ISI-driven conspiracy.(To be confirmed)

Strangely, Modi contradicted himself in the answer to a later answer to SIT! (Question 16)

SIT: Did you meet mediapersons at Godhra?

Modi: While I was at Collectorate, Godhra, a lot of mediapersons had assembled there. I briefed them about the incident and informed them that the culprits would not be spared and that a compensation of Rs 2 lakh per victim would be paid. I also appealed to [the] public through them for maintenance of peace. I also informed the media that on the basis of facts narrated to me by the persons present on the spot as well as injured persons, the incident appeared to be a serious and preplanned conspiracy. (emphasis added)

Modi was not challenged with any follow up question on this.

Handing over the deal bodies to VHP

There was an allegation that the dead bodies of Kar Sevaks were illegally handed over to the VHP leader Jaydeep Patel’s custody.

SIT asked Modi about it.

Q.15 Did you know Shri Jaydeep Patel, the then VHP General Secretary and whether he met you at Godhra and made a request that he should be allowed to accompany the dead bodies to Ahmedabad?

Modi. I know Jaydeep Patel, the then VHP General Secretary. I do not remember to have met him at Godhra.

After the decision was taken to transport the dead bodies to Ahmedabad, it was the duty of the District Administration to chalk out the modalities for its transportation.I do not know the details, as to how and when the dead bodies reached Ahmedabad.

However, the custody of the dead bodies remained with the District Administration, police officers and the hospital authorities.

He has chosen words very carefully, and said “I do not remember”. OK. But, why no cross examination? Both Modi and  Patel were present in a meeting at DM’s office, and were taking a very crucial decision.

Modi and Jaydeep Patel

After all, Modi’s office had called Jaydeep Patel soon after he learnt about Godhra incident. Another thing that SIT failed to check, as it never called Mr Modi’s secretary, whose phone was used, to testify.

Q7 How and when did you come to know about the incident relating to burning of a railway coach of Sabarmati express near Godhra railway station on 27.02.2002?

Ans.  On 27-2-2002 around 9:00 hrs, I received an information from the Shri Ashok Narayan, the then ACS (Home) about the burning of a railway coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra Railway Station.

Q.8 What was your immediate reaction and what were the steps taken about this incident?

Ans.  I held discussions with Shri Gordhan Zadafia, the then MoS (Home), Shri Ashok Narayan, the then ACS (Home) and other officials of Home and Police Department and asked them to collect the facts because the issue was going to be raised in the Assembly. I gave directions that necessary steps be taken that the other passengers should not be delayed, which may lead to tension. I also gave instructions that Godhra was communally sensitive place and that necessary steps like curfew etc. should be taken immediately to avoid any untoward incident and that senior police officers and extra force, if required should reach the spot without any delay.

Phone call records show Mr Modi to have been in close touch with Mr Jaydeep Patel immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials and ministers at 10:30 hrs. There are 2 calls made from CM’s PA’s number to Jaydeep Patel at 09:39 and then again at 09:41.

Funeral Processions

Modi rejected the allegation about having allowed Funeral processions in Ahmedabad City. SIT “somehow” failed to notice Police Control Room logs, and other evidence  about the large crowds with the Funeral Procession.

What does the image above look like?

This particular photo† is sourced to REUTERS/Stringer, and was used by rediff and a few others in their report. It is also used by pro-Hindutva pages themselves ( WARNING: Graphic images of Godhra victims)

The photo’s descriptions says

Local residents surround bodies covered in traditional garments during a funeral procession in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Thursday.

Mourners surround bodies of those killed after a mob burnt a train carrying Hindu devotees. The funeral procession in Ahmedabad on February 28 took place against a backdrop of religious riots, sparked by the train fire in which 58 people died.

From Modi’s cross examination.

Q.62. Were the dead bodies of the Ram-seviks and other persons killed in Godhra incident paraded in Ahmedabad City?

 

Ans. The Govt was very particular that tension should not mount at the time of funeral of the Godhra victims. As per my information, the police played a proactive role in the matter and the relatives of the victims were persuaded to take the dead bodies in vehicles in some cases. The relatives of the victims cooperated with the administration as a result of which the funeral was peaceful and no untoward incident took place on the way to the cremation ground. Further, as per my information even the unidentified bodies were cremated at a distance of about 200 meters from the Sole Civil Hospital after completing necessary legal formalities. The allegation is therefore without any basis.

However, Police Control Room (PCR) message logs indicate otherwise.[1]

Note, these were part of the same records that were previously claimed to have been destroyed by the Gujarat Government, but mysteriously reappeared soon, and only after Supreme Court asked SIT to investigate the charges of destruction of records further. It is clear that SIT has not bothered to re-visit parts of investigations and conclusions based on these records.

“February 28, 2002: Time: 11:58 am

PCR message (Sola Hospital)

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No. 5907 & 5925(Annexure IV File XIV)

Funeral procession of 10 bodies taken out from Ramol Jantanagar to Hatkeshwar crematorium 5-6,000 people accompanied procession.”

Also note numerous messages reporting of rioting near Sola Hospital itself. (See Charts 1 and 2 below)

If we examine the map of Ahmedabad, Sola Civil Hospital is towards the North Eastern part of Ahmedabad, near the High Court. Ramola is towards the opposite end of the City, and the Hatkeshwar Cremation grounds are about 4-5 Km from Ramola. All typical road routes from Sola civil hospital to Ramola would cross through large parts of central Ahmedabad.

ahmd3

aggresive-mobi-sola-civil-hos-1

map-sola-route2

Concerned Citizens Tribunal notes (Vol II, Page 132)

1.3. Following Shri Modi’’s diktat, the bodies of the passengers burnt to death in a compartment of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, were taken by road in a cavalcade to the Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. ‘Rambhakts’ in the cavalcade resorted to provocative sloganeering, expressing their rage and threatening revenge. The state controlled media was used to broadcast this message and the local Akashvani radio station even announced the cavalcade’s scheduled time of arrival in Ahmedabad. By the time the dead bodies reached the civil hospital, a highly charged crowd had already assembled there, shouting incendiary slogans like, Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge (We will avenge blood with blood).

Action-Reaction Justifications

It was alleged that Modi had contextualised and implicitly justified the genocide by constantly evoking the Godhra incident. When asked by SIT, this is what he said.

Q.69. Please refer to your interview given to Shri Sudhir Choudhary of Zee TV on 01-03-2002. In this interview you have stated that “Kriya pratikriya ki chain chal rahi hai. Hum chhate hain ki-na kriya ho our na pratikriya”. You have also reportedly stated in the said interview that the Godhra incident had caused a big shock in India as well as abroad. These people from Godhra area have criminal tendencies and had earlier killed lady teachers also and now they have committed this heinous crime, for which reaction is being felt. Please explain.

Ans.  Those who have read the history of Gujarat would definitely be aware that communal violence in Gujarat has a very old history. Since long and even before my birth, Gujarat has witnessed series of incidents of such communal violence. As per available history, from 1714 AD to uptill now, in Gujarat, thousands of incidents of communal violence have been recorded.[SIC]

So far as the Zee TV interview of 151 March 2002 is concerned, today, after a period of eight years, I do not recollect the exact words. But I had always appealed only and only for peace. I had tried to convey to the people to shun violence in straight and simple language.

If my words cited in this question are considered in the correct perspective, then it would be evident that there is a very earnest appeal for refraining from any kind of violence. I deny all the allegations leveled against me in this regard.

and also,

Q.70. Did you make a. statement to the media about post-Godhra riots by citing Newton’s law that every action has equal and opposite reaction?

Ans.  The Times of India had published a news item purportedly as though I had given an interview to them. The truth is that nobody from Times of India had met me. The falsehood of my so-called justification ‘Action — Reaction Theory’ is evident from this fact. The State Government issued a denial with regard to my not having given any interview and the same was belatedly published in a remote corner of the newspaper. There is a saying in Gujarati. “Ver thi er same nehin”. It has been my constant opinion that violence can not be a reply to violence and I had appealed for peace I had not and would never justify any action or reaction by a mob against innocents. Hence, I deny all allegations in this regard

Now watch this press conference from 9m30s.

Modi press conference (9m30s onwards)

Modi says:

Chaalees Mahila aur bacchon ko jalaa dena, 18 purushon ko jalaa dena, ye jaghanya kritya tha. Gujarat mein isaki pratikriya teevra hone ki sambhavana thi. Lekin sarkar ne ek ke baad jo kadam uthaaye hain, aur us kadam ke chalte, pratikriyaaon ka kshhetra bahut seemit raha hai.

English translation:

Burning 40 women and children, burning 18 men, was a barbaric act. A strong reaction of this act was expected in Gujarat. However, the steps the Government has taken, one after the other, due to this step, the area of the reactions has been very limited.

If I can find an incriminating video of Modi sitting in my home, why couldn’t the SIT find them? Why did it take Modi’s statements at face value, and not challenge him? SIT failed to look into the video evidence freely available on the internet that shows Modi justifying and contextualizing the genocide as a reaction to Godhra, and asked questions about the other statements that he was able to give evasive responses to.

Ministers in Police control room

ALLEGATION NO. V – Cabinet Ministers I. K. Jadeja and Ashok Bhatt were positioned in the DGP office and Ahmedabad City Control Room respectively by the CM.

The Lies

Modi’s claims ignorance in his answer to SIT

Q.27. Did you take a decision to allow Shri Ashok Bhatt and Shri I.K. Jadeja to sit in the State Control Room and Ahmedabad City Control Room, respectively which adversely affected the supervision of the riot situation by DGP and CP, Ahmedabad City respectively

Ans. No such decision was taken and no such discussions took place in the meeting. Subsequently, I came to know about this allegation from media. However, I do not have any personal knowledge about the positioning of these two Ministers in the two Control Rooms.

Firstly, In Feb-Mar 2002, Modi was not only the CM of Gujarat, he was also Cabinet minister for Homedepartment.

Is Modi claiming that he was such a clueless and ignorant Home Minister that he had no idea about decisions being supposedly taken by his junior minister Mr Zadafia, and only came to know about these later from the media? Given how his own bhakts praise him for being very hands-on, keeping track of specific projects of his cabinet colleague, and his general autocratic working style we all have seen, is this at all credible?

Strangely, on another interview with TOI on March 30, 2002 immediately after the riots, Modi did not dispute this, and claimed this was a “routine and regular tradition” to “monitor and coordinate the rescue and relief measures”.

Q. Two of your ministers are reported to have been in the Ahmedabad police control room when the riots broke out in Ahmedabad. What action do you plan against them?

Ans. It has always been a tradition in this state for senior ministers to monitor and coordinate the rescue and relief measures from the control rooms. This is treated as a routine and regular exercise. During the earthquake, ministers were actively coordinating the relief activities from the police control room. I feel distressed to see that this also is being twisted by the media, with the sole objective of maligning my government

Not only had Modi forgotten about this tradition when he spoke to SIT in 2010, he had also learnt that other ministries have no business getting involved in Law and Order affairs. In response to an earlier question from SIT, he said:

0.26. Did Shri Ashok Bhatt, the then Health Minister and Shri I. K. Jadeja, the then Minister of Urban Development attend the said meeting?

Ans.  Both these Ministers must have attended the Cabinet meeting but they were not present in the Law & Order meeting, as it was not their subject.

SIT agreeing partially with the allegation

In Several places, SIT agrees that these ministers were indeed stationed at the Police control rooms.

p29 2010 report

However,Sh K Chakravarti has stated that he was informed by S Ashok Narayan that it was decided by the Govt that IK Jadeja would sit in DGP’s office on 28-02-2002 to get information about the Law & order situation in the state, as the state control room was located in his office. Sh Ashok Narayan also informed him that Shri Ashok Bhatt would similarly sit in the Ahmedabad Cily Police Control Room situated in the office of the CP, Ahmedabad City.

p31 2010 report

Shri I.K. Jadeja. the then Minister of Urban Housing, Roads & Building and Capital projects has stated before the SIT that on 28-02-2002, Shri Gordhan Zadafia, the then MoS (Home) had requested him to remain present in the DGP’s office in Police Bhavan, Gandhinagar to see that in case any information is received in the Control Room about any rioting incident or request is received for extra police force or any other issue of importance then the same should be passed on to the DGP, Home Minister etc.

In view of this request. Shri Jadeja remained present in the office of DGP Shri K.Chakravarthi for 3-4 hours for next 3/4 days. However. he does not recollect as to what work was done by him, but in case some information was received, about some incident from the party workers/common man, the same was passed on to the DGP for necessary action.

Now let us look at this logically.

Who can order & authorize two cabinet level ministers to do something? A lower ranked Minister of State (MoS)†? Or their boss, the Chief Minister?

How can IK Jadeja conveniently forget what he did during the riots? Why did the SIT not show him his call records in order to refresh his memory?

p32 2010 report

This was a very controversial decision taken by the Govt to place two of Its Ministers in the State Police Conlrol Room as well Ahmedabad City Police Control Room. Though evidence is available to establish that both the Ministers visited Ihe respective Conlrol Rooms. Yet there Is no evidence to establish that they passed on instructions to the police officers to deal with the riots in a particular manner. In view of this, ,the allegation is only partially proved.

So, what was the SIT expecting? That officers like PC Pande and K Chakravarti will openly and easily admit that they were under pressure from these ministers? Will they just admit their own shortcomings, admit intervention?

The things SIT ignored

IK Jadeja was the minister of Urban housing while Ashok Bhatt was the Health minister at the time. Neither had anybusiness being at the police headquarters.

Obviously, the complicit police offers were always going to deny being influenced by these ministers. That line of investigation was unlikely to lead to any prosecutable evidence, and indeed it did not. The critical question that needed to be explored by SIT was to determine if any sensitive information was passed on to the rioters on the ground? What were these ministers doing? Why were they there only during the worst days of rioting? Is that just a coincidence? Is there a pattern in the chain of calls between them to Jaydeep Patel, and then calls made by Jaydeep Patel?

From the Ahmedabad Police Control room, Ashok Bhatt spoke 4 times with Narendra Modi through Modi’s private EPABX, 4 times with Sanjay Bhavsar and once with Tanmay Mehta. In total during those 4 days when the maximum violence took place, Ashok Bhatt spoke 21 times with either Modi or Modi’s private staff. Narendra Modi now wants us to believe that he was not aware of his Cabinet Minister Ashok Bhatt’s whereabouts.

Ashok Bhatt was also speaking to the main accused of Naroda Patiya, Maya Kodnani, and the main accused of Naroda Gam, Jaydeep Patel, while he was supposedly ‘controlling’ the riot situation.

Bhatt and Jadeja were in the Police control room during the worst days of rioting – the days when police failed to prevent genocides at Naroda and Gulberg barely a few miles away from this control room. It is clear that they did not add much value in preventing the killings. SIT failed in finding how much value did they add in abetting the killings.

Hate Speech at Becharaji

Modi delivered a Hate speech at Becharaji, harassed the officer who provided its details to the National Minorities Commission, then denied  doing either.

Modi made a hate speech against Muslims at the Becharaji temple on 9th September 2002 during his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra.

Given the context of the riots barely 6 months ago, this was particularly insensitive. Also, as B Shreekumar, a police officer sent the details of this speech to National Commission for Minorities, he was transferred, just four months into his job.

SIT questioned Modi on this.

Q.52. Please see a text of the public speech delivered by you at Becharaji, Mehasana District on 9-9-2002, as a part of Gaurav Yatra. Particularly the portion reproduced below:

“What brother, should we run relief camps? (Referring to relief camps for riot affected Muslims). Should I start children producing centers there, i.e relief camps? We want to achieve progress by pursuing the policy of family planning with determination. We are 5 and our 25!!  (Ame panch, Amara pachees, referring the Muslim polygamy) (laughs). On whose name such a development is pursued? Can’t Gujarat implement family planning? Whose inhibitions are coming in our way? Which religious sect is coming in the way? Why money is not reaching to the poor? If some people go on producing children, the children will do cycle puncture repair only?”

Did these remarks refer to the Muslims?

Ans.  This speech does not refer to any particular community or religion This was a political speech, in which I tried to point out the increasing population of India, in as much as I stated that “Can’t Gujarat implement family planning?” My speech had been distorted by some interested elements who had misinterpreted to suit their designs. It may be mentioned here that no riots or tension took place after my election speech.

Again, the SIT has no follow up questions on his absurd claims. When Modi has himself said “hum paanch” and asked which religious sect is coming in the way, how can his explanation be accepted?

If anyone reads the full transcript of the speech, it is abundantly clear which religion is Modi talking about.

You[Congress] object to Narmada waters brought in the month of Shravan? When you come to power, you are free to bring water during Ramzan.

If we raise the self-respect and morale of 5 Crores Gujratis, the schemes of Alis, Malis and Jamalis (referring to Muslims) will not be successful to do any harm to us.

Also a TOI story, Tapes capture rabid speeches made by Modi, dated 15 Sep 2002, shows a very confused response from BJP, some even denying the speech took place! Why should they be so confused, had their conscience be clear about the speech?

Also, on Sreekumar’s transfer.

Q 54 Is it correct that when Shri R.B. Sreekumar, the then Addl DG (Int.) refused to issue the denial, he was ordered to be transferred by you as ADG (Police Reforms) cn 17-9-2002?

Ans.  The allegation leveled by Shri R.B. Sreekumar, the then Addl.DG (Int ) is not correct, in as much as this was a routine transfer, for which the proposal had been received from the Home Department

A routine transfer, just four months into his role? Why were no other officers who towed the Gujarat Government’s line ever transferred in such “routine” manner? Also, he fails to mention that he was the Home Minister of Gujarat himself!

R.B. Sreekumar is the grandson of famous Indian revolutionary freedom fighter, nationalist, journalist and writer Balaramapuram G Raman Pillai who fought against the British for independence and started a newspaper called Navashakti. He holds a post-graduate degree in history, Gandhian philosophy, law, and literature. A 1971 batch IPS officer, Sreekumar joined Gujarat police forces in 1972 and continued till his retirement in 2007. Sreekumar was awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in 1990 and a Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998 by the Government of India. Here is Sreekumar’s version of the same event:

SM: You were the one who retrieved the full text of Modi’s speech during his Gaurav Yatra in which he called relief camps for Muslims “child producing centres”. It was a major loss of face for the government and for Modi personally. Recount for us what exactly happened?

RBS: It was 10 September 2002. At two places during his Gaurav Yatra, Modi made these notorious statements inciting communal hatred.

The National Minorities Commission asked for a report on this speech. And it was my duty as the ADGP, Intelligence, to get it.

Now see how funny the situation became. The chief secretary and the DGP called me and said we are giving you a formal letter to provide details about the speech to the commission, but don’t actually do it.

I said that’s not possible unless you give it to me in writing. They threatened me. They said, “you are about to be promoted, why are you creating trouble for yourself?”.

Then they actually gave me a written order to not report Modi’s speech. But on 17 September, I submitted the speech and also observed that it contained elements of communal hatred which vitiated the atmosphere in the state.

That very night, I was transferred to a specially-created post called Additional DGP, Police Reforms. The post didn’t have any charter of duties, any specific job. They provided me one peon, one car and one room, but no work, no files came to me. I continued in this post till my retirement on 28 February 2007.

Here is how the press reported the transfer at the time :

Gujarat state intelligence bureau chief and his two deputies have been transferred ‘on punishment postings’ for putting on record Modi’s anti-Muslim remarks made at Bahucharaji near Mehasana on September 9, 2002.

Additional Director General Srikumar has been transferred to the police reforms department. Srikumar had joined the state IB just four months back.

References

1.
Exclusive: Headlines Today probe reveals Gujarat riots were not spontaneous and sudden. 2017. India Today. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gujarat-riots-2002-godhra-sudden-spontaneous-backlash-frantic-police-warnings-ignored/1/262413.html. Accessed July 14.
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