Ahmedabad: Gujarat’s top police officer at the time of post-Godhra riots on Saturday contradicted IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court implicating Narendra Modi in the communal clashes, claiming he was not present in the meeting with the Chief Minister held on February 27, 2002.
Bhatt had created a flutter in his affidavit alleging that at the meeting Modi had instructed officers to allow Hindus to “vent out their anger” during the clashes and wanted Muslims to be “taught a lesson”.
“He (Sanjiv Bhatt) was not present in that particular meeting held with the Chief Minister and other high-ranking officials. I have told this to the Special Investigation Team (probing the riots) during my deposition,” K Chakrabarthi, then Director General of Police, said.
In Delhi, Congress stepped up attack against Modi saying victims will not get justice as long as he is the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
“As long as Narendra Modi is Chief Minister, the victims cannot get justice there,” party general secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters.
The CPI(M) demanded immediate investigation of Modi’s role in the 2002 post-Godhra riots and his prosecution following accusations by a senior state police officer.
Noting that the affidavit filed by Bhatt had alleged that Modi had “instructed senior police officials in a meeting not to act to protect Muslims from violence”, the party said the statement “confirms the culpability of the Chief Minister in the pogroms”.
“There should be no further delay in the investigations into the role of Narendra Modi and initiating steps to prosecute him,” the CPI(M) Politburo said in a statement.
Predictably, the BJP came to Modi’s defence. “From what I know of Narendra Modi personally I cannot even imagine (that he would have supported post-Godhra rioters. The court will itself decide on the PIL or affidavit that this person has filed,” former BJP president Rajnath Singh said.
Bhatt was posted in the Intelligence Department when India saw its worst communal riots since the partition. Riots that killed 1,200 people across Gujarat.
In his affidavit to the apex court, Bhatt says that he attended a meeting on February 27, 2002 – after the Godhra train burning incident earlier that day – during which Modi asked police officers to be “indifferent” to rioters and to the calls for help from areas under attack.
“It is up to the SIT and Supreme Court to decide on it,” Chakrabarthi, now retired and staying in Mumbai, said.
In his affidavit, Bhatt stated that he attended the meeting on the day of Godhra train burning incident as he was asked to accompany the DGP by the state control room.
Bhatt, posted as DCP at the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) during the 2002 riots, said he had attended the meeting along with the DGP.
In his testimony before the SIT, Modi had said Bhatt, being a junior officer at that time, was not present in the meeting.
However, Tara Chand Yadav, Bhatt’s driver then, has claimed that Bhatt accompanied the state’s DGP to the Chief Minister’s bungalow on that day.
During questioning on two consecutive days in March last year by theSIT, Modi had denied his complicity in any way in the riots – or that he ordered policemen to ignore appeals for help from those being targeted in the riots.
Bhatt has also accused the apex court-appointed SIT, headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan, of a “cover-up” operation.
The SIT is also probing Modi’s alleged role in the communal riots. The riots were triggered by the Godhra train burning incident in which 59 people were killed.
Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer, is currently posted as Principal of the State Reserve Police (SRP) Training Centre in Junagadh district.