Why is Narendra Mod i- Accused No 1

Why Modi is accused no-1?

DNA Correspondent, April 16,2013


Zakia Jafri’s petition claims Modi administration had supported and ignored communal violence in 2002. The state police and administration did not pay heed to intelligence bureau record about hate speeches by right wing activists and mobilisation of mob. DNA brings excerpts of the protest petition.

l Modi contacts the then VHP leader Dr Jaideep Patel immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials

l Sinister decision was taken in ‘mini-cabinet’ meeting at Godhra where Patel was present

l Administration and police were deliberately paralyzed and neutralized by conspiracy hatched by Modi and the then DGP K Chakravarti, the then police commissioner PC Pande, additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narayan and other important officials

l Victory of Modi in Rajkot by-election a week before Godhra riots with a very slender margin

l Ehsan Jafri had been active campaigner against Modi.

l Meeting at Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002 night effectively neutralized the police and administration.

l Alert messages of State Intelligence Bureau (SIT) of provocation and build up of mobs as well as showing possibilities of violence were ignored.

l The SIT deliberately conceals and ignored during the probe regarding documents of SIB regarding hate speeches issued by RSS and VHP workers.


#India – Gujarat riots were not spontaneous and sudden Mr Narendra Modi

Exclusive Headlines today, Ashish Khaitan  April 16, 2013

In the past 10 years, the Gujarat government and senior BJP leaders have often said that the riots that broke out in the state in February 2012 were an ‘instantaneous reaction’ to the carnage at Godhra. The chief minister himself in an interview on March 1, 2002 had said, “What we are witnessing in Gujarat at this time is a chain of action and reaction. We want that there neither be action nor reaction.”

But now Headlines Today has uncovered the police control room messages and the state intelligence bureau reports which show that the police had received a constant stream of inputs from its field officers about VHP leaders making provocative speeches, about crowds being mobilised and warnings about the possibility of major riots breaking out. Despite the flurry of ground reports and advance warnings, no curfew was imposed in Ahmedabad till noon the next day. The BJP government supported the VHP called bandhs that, as events turned out, proved to be the pretext under which violent mobs were mobilized. VHP leaders were not warned or put under preventive detention.

But the most intriguing aspect of these messages is that while they have been produced before the court as annexures, they don’t find any mention in the 541 page closure report filed by the SIT. No attempt has been made by the SIT to reconstruct the sequence of events as they unfolded immediately after the news of Sabarmati train incident broke. The SIT did not assess the adequacy or appropriateness of the state’s response in a chronological fashion as the law and order collapsed in large parts of the state.

 Perhaps, that’s the reason that the facts that emerge from these messages are hard to reconcile with the conclusions drawn by the SIT.

There were two centralised police control rooms in Ahmedabad in 2002 – Ahmedabad Police Control Room situated at Shahibaug in the heart of the city.  Naroda and Gulberg Society, where around 150 people were burnt to death on the 28th of February lay within a radius of 6 KMs from this Police Control Room 9Gulber was 2 to 3 kms from the control room while Naroda was roughly six kilometers).

The second one — the State Police Control Room — located at Police Bhawan in Gandhinagar.

The Ahmedabad Police Control Room received messages of the build up taking place in Ahmedabad City. The State Control Room got messages from different districts in the state.

In February 2012 the SIT submitted before an Ahmedabad court, in a sealed cover, only the Ahmedabad City PCR messages… a copy of these are now with Headlines Today. The State Control Room messages are still missing.

There was also a third control room…this was at the State Intelligence Bureau Headquarters situated inside Police Bhawan, Gandhinagar…the  same building where the State DGP’s office is located. The SIB Control Room was also flooded with field intelligence reports filed by its intelligence units located across the State including Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. These SIB reports too have been submitted before the Court by the SIT. A copy of these too is now in the possession of Headlines Today.

By the afternoon of February 27, the Gujarat home department was being bombarded with messages from cops on the ground about mobilisation of VHP and Bajrang Dal cadre.

Rightwing activists across the state were holding public meetings, making provocative speeches and inciting mobs. All this is documented in hundreds of wireless messages sent by policemen to the state intelligence bureau. But the State failed to take any effective steps to prevent the imminent massacres. Within a few hours after the Godhra tragedy, the three senior-most office bearers of Gujarat’s VHP unit -Jaideep Patel, Dilep Trivedi and Kaushik Patel– issued a statement declaring a state wide bandh and containing remarks that were designed to incite the mobs.

A field level officer faxed this statement to SIB headquarters at 20:38 hours on the 27 Feb 2002.

February 27, 2002

Time: 8:38 pm

State Intelligence Bureau Message No: Page No. 188 (Annexure III, File XVIII)
VHP general secreatary Dilip Trivedi & VHP joint secretaries Jaideep Patel & Kaushik Mehta issue a statement.

VHP declares Gujarat bandh to protest killing of kar sevaks.

Statement says Muslims pre-planned Godhra attack.

Innocent ladies were molested and compartments were set on fire and Ramsevaks were burnt alive.

Through out the day on 27th February the SIB control room received messages of provocative sloganeering and mobilisation by the VHP.

February 27, 2002

Time: Not Known

State Intelligence Bureau Message No: Page No. 345, Order No. 24 (Annexure III File XIX)

Sender: D.O, Ahmedabad

Recipient: Intelligence Office, Virangam (Ahmedabad)

75 VHP & Bajrang Dal members gathered at Virangam Town Chali & Golwada area.

Situation in the area very tense.

The PCR messages warned about the tension that was spreading from the moment sabarmati express (the same train that was attacked by Muslim mobs at Godhra and later after detaching the burnt bogies made its way to Ahmedabad) arrived at Ahmedabad station.

February 27, 2002

Time: 6:10 pm

State Intelligence Bureau Message: No. 531 Page No. 19 (Annexure III, File XVIII (D-160)

Sabarmati Express arrived at Ahmedabad station from Godhra at 4:30 pm.

Karsevaks armed with rods & sticks, shouting slogans ‘khoon ka badla khoon’.

At 10:12 pm, Police Inspector of CID, Intelligence in Bhavnagar sent a fax to Inspector General, Gujarat State Intelligence Bureau in Gandhi Nagar saying that Sadhu Samaj president Gopal Nand and local VHP leaders exhorted crowds at Junagadh to retaliate. The message said that the VHP leaders delivered hate speeches and called on all Hindus to unite.

 February 27, 2002

Time: 10:12 pm

State Intelligence Bureau Fax Message: 311/02 Page No.: D-1/ HA/Jaher Sabha/Junagadh

Sender: CID, Bhavnagar

Recipient: IG, Gujarat & Intelligence Bureau, Gandhi Nagar

Sadhu Samaj president Gopal Nand gave provocative speech at Junagadh Kadva Chowk between 7:30 pm-9 pm.

Gopal Nand questioned lack of response from Hindus even 12 hours after burning of train.

Gopal Nand questioned Muslim patriotism to India and incited mobs to attack them.

By the afternoon of the 27th, the riots had begun.

February 27, 2002

Time 17:45

State Intelligence Bureau Fax Message No 273 File XIX Annexure III

Sender: B M Mohit Anand Centre

Sabarmati Express reached Anand Railway Station at 1500 hrs

Karsevaks from the train stabbed 4 Muslims present at the station.

One victim named Abdul Rashid aged 65 years, resident of Anand, died.

Remaining were hospitalised at Anand government hospital.

Reports of violent attacks by karsevaks came from across the state. A VHP mob was reported as swelling at Vadagam village in Modasa that was to become another epicentre of violence. There were desperate SOS messages seeking reinforcements. Mobs were on rampage through the night, setting ablaze houses and vehicles.

February 27, 2002

Time: 11:59 pm

State Intelligence Bureau Fax Message: Com/HM/550/ Out No. 398

Sender: ACP, Gandhinagar Region

Recipient: IG, Gujarat & Intelligence Bureau, Gandhi Nagar

50 kar sevaks on special bus from Ahmedabad reached Modasa, Vadagam village at 6:30 pm.

500-strong mob received kar sevaks.

Karsevaks told mobs about attack on Sabarmati Express.

Crowds swelled to thousands by 9:30 pm.

Police presence insufficient to maintain order.

10 shops owned by Muslims & several vehicles set ablaze by mobs.

Despite these warnings there was no clampdown by the Gujarat government on the mobilisation being carried out by the VHP leadership and neither were VHP and Bajrang Dal members taken under preventive detention.

The Speical Investigation Team in its report accepted that the Modi government supported the bandh called by the VHP.

Page 134 of SIT closure report: “Shri Vijay Badheka, Under Secretary to Home Department has stated before the SIT that both Gujarat bandh on 28.02.02 and Bharat bandh on 01.03.02 were supported by the BJP.”

The bandh allowed the VHP cadre a free run even as the SIB kept sending signals of impending riots and sought preventive action.

February 28, 2002

Time: 9am-10am

State Intelligence Bureau Message No: 73/02 Page 365 (Annexure III File XXI (D-166)

Sender: ACP (Intelligence) Surat

VHP, BJP leaders gave provocative speeches at Sardar Chowk, Vapi Town.

VHP’s Dinesh Behri, Bajrang Dal’s Acharya Brahmbatt, BJP’s Jawahar Desai & RSS member Vinod Chowdhary present Speakers exhorted crowds to take revenge for Godhra.

When the Ahmedabad police commissioner P.C. Pande and State DGP K. Chakravarty were questioned by the SIT, they were not confronted with these specific SIB reports. P.C. Pande was not asked why curfew was not imposed in Ahmedabad city on the 27th afternoon itself, particularly in the face of such specific intelligence inputs.

Pande told SIT on page 7 of his statement recorded on 24.03.2010: “The circumstances did not exist on the 27.02.02 or even on 28.02.02 to warrant the imposition of curfew and any hasty decision would have led to panic in the city. Even otherwise with limited forces available imposition of curfew becomes a serious problem and large scale breach becomes common.”

Pande and Chakravarty were also not asked why VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders were not put under preventive arrest even as they were threatening violence.

But the SIT has not explained what these specific measures were. General and vague claims made by Gujarat State Officials that all possible efforts were made to control the riots have been accepted by the SIT.

The State Intelligence Bureau repeatedly pressed the panic button, sending SOS’ to the home department about the possibility of riots. Bodies of kar sevaks in public display and funeral processions by mobs…proved to be the trigger. But records show the VHP and its cadres succeeded in stoking mass hysteria.

30 minutes past midnight on the 28th of February 2002, the state intelligence bureau received a fax giving a specific warning about possibility of riots with bodies being brought to Ahmedabad. Then VHP state unit president Jaideep Patel was already on his way escorting the 54 bodies from Godhra to Ahmedabad.

February 28, 2002

Time: 12:30 am

State Intelligence Bureau Fax No. 525

Bodies will be brought to Kalupur Railway station, Ahmedabad.

Dead bodies will be carried in funeral processions VHP gave a bandh call.

High possibility of riots in Ahmedabad. Take preventive action.

February 28, 2002.

Time: Not Known

State Intelligence Bureau report to Home Secretary and all Police Commissioner, all SPs

VHP has given a call for “Gujarat Bandh”.

Appropriate vigilance be exercised.

The motorcade carrying bodies finally reached Sola Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad at 3:34 AM. By then there was a already a mob made up of VHP and RSS members outside Sola Hospital.

The PCR Van positioned at Sola Civil Hospital sent a message to City Police Control Room situated at Shaibaug. The distance between Hospital and Control Room was 11 kilometres.

February 28, 2002

Time: 4:00 am

Page No. 5790 (Annexure IV, File XIV)

Mob of 3000 RSS members gathered at Sola Hospital.

February 28, 2002

Time: 7:14 am

PCR wireless message (Sola Hospital)

Page No. 5796 (Annexure IV, File XIV)

Mob assembled at Sola Hospital.

The crowds were getting restless. Soon violence sparked off.

February 28, 2002

Time: 7:17 am

PCR wireless message (Sola Hospital)

Page No. 5797 (Annexure IV, File XIV)

Mob of 500 people holding up traffic.

At 8:10 there is a message from the Control Room saying that 3 SRP Companies have been sent to Sola Hospital for extra bandobast.

 February 28, 2002

Time: 11:55 am

PCR wireless message: Page No 5894(Annexure IV, File XIV)

Mob set vehicle on fire, arson on highway.

February 28, 2002

Time: 11.55 am

PCR message

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No.6162 (Annexure IV File XV)

Riots have started at Sola Hospital & near High Court where bodies were brought.

February 28, 2002

Time: Not known

PCR message (Sola Hospital)

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No.?6172

Sola Hospital staff surrounded by 500-strong mob Please provide security at hospital urgently.

These revelations show how mobs were allowed to congregate at the hospital to take out funeral processions. Though violence had erupted, curfew was still not clamped.

Pande claimed in his statement before the SIT that he visited the Hospital at 10 am and found everything to be normal.

“I went to Sola Civil Hosptal around 10:00 and found that doctors were under pressure to complete the documentation wheras relatives were in a hurry to take the bodies. However, I didn’t find anything alarming and as such returned around 11:00 am.”

Pande also claimed there were no funeral processions, a claim accepted by the SIT. But the PCR messages show that there were not only processions but also riots at the hospital, nailing Pande’s lies.

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 6,000 people accompanied procession.

As funeral processions wound through the city, mobs ran amok at Gulbarg Society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam in Ahmedabad.

February 28, 2002

Time: Not known

PCR message (Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha) Com/538

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No. 258 (Annexure III File XIX)

Funeral procession allowed at Khedbrahma town in Sabarkantha district

Situation tense, 2 Muslims stabbed at Khedbrahma

February 28, 2002

Time: Not known

PCR message (Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha)

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No. 262 (Annexure III File XIX)

150 Bajrang Dal members on way to Khedbrahma.

February 28, 2002

Time: 3:32 pm

PCR message (Khedbrahma, Sabarkantha)

State Intelligence Bureau: Page No. 254 (Annexure III file XIX) Com/574

Funeral procession organised for Godhra train victim Babubhai Patel in Sabarkantha.

Special Investigation Team in its closure report on pages 59 to 64 had concluded there were no funeral processions and gave a clean-chit to the Gujarat government on this count.

 PCR messages detailing incidence of violence in Ahmedabad clearly warned about a brewing unrest. Rioting was reported from Naroda and Meghani Nagar where Gulberg Society is located. The PCR messages of violence in Ahmedabad are contained in Annexure IV File XIV. Here are some samples of the several wireless messages sent by policemen on the ground.

Page No. 5798, 5803, 5804

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 12:30 am

PCR Message: Factory burnt at Ambikanagar on February 27

Area: Odhav

FIR No.80/02

Page No,: 5746

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 1:10 am

PCR Message: Between 2:30-3:00 pm on Feb 27, mob stoned bus, vandalized shop

Area: Bapunagar

FIR No.: 64/02

Page No.: 5768

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 2:38 am

PCR Message: Mob torched buses & rickshaws, damaged public property on Feb 27 at 5:15 pm

Area: Odhav

FIR No.:78/02

Page No.: 341, Order No. 534

Date: February 27, 2002

Time: 8:25pm

State Intelligence Bureau Message: Man succumbs to stab injuries on February 27 at 8:25 pm

Area: Meghani Nagar

FIR No.: 65/02

Page No.: 341, Order No. 534

Date: February 27, 2002

Time: Not Known

State Intelligence Bureau Message: Man succumbs to injuries on Feb 27 at 7:45 pm at Saralaben Hospital.

Area: Meghani Nagar

FIR No.: 65/02

Page No.: 347, Order No. 8535

Date: February 27, 2002

Time: 8:30 pm

State Intelligence Bureau Message: Man critically injured after attack at Ahmedabad railway station at 5 pm.

Area: Ahmedabad

FIR No: Not Known

Page No: 348, Order 541

Date: February 27, 2002

Time: 9:30pm

State Intelligence Bureau Message: Juhapura resident attacked at V.F Hospital.

Area: Ahmedabad

FIR No: 116

Page No.: 5807 & 5808

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 4:28 am

PCR Message: One critically injured near Kathwada Road, Naroda, on February 27 at 7:30 pm.

Area: Naroda

FIR No.: 97/02

Page No.: 5805 & 5806

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 4:20 am

State Intelligence Bureau Message: One critically injured near Law Garden on February 27 at 8:15 pm.

Area: Ellisbridge

FIR No: 116/02

Page No.: 5801

Date: February 28, 2002

Time: 3:50 am

State Intelligence Bureau Message: One critically injured in mob attack near Mahalaxmi Crossroad, Paldi on Feb 27 at 8:30 pm.

Area: Ellisbridge

FIR No.: 114/02

Inspite of all of this, the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner told the SIT that he didn’t find the “circumstances on the 27th and 28th fit for curfew.”

PCR and SIB reports show that there were regular inputs of VHP and Bajrang Dal led mobs swelling at Naroda and Gulberg Society.

Pande admitted before the SIT that at both these places curfew was declared only after 12:50 pm …by then the mob had already swelled to between 10 and 15 thousand people in number. It is no wonder that the curfew that was finally imposed remained only on paper – it had no effect on the ground.

Hundred and fifty men, women and children were burnt and hacked to death at Naroda and Gulberg society in the four hours between 2 and 6 PM on February 28.

Police Headquarters at Shahibaug was only 2 to 3 kilometers from Gulberg Society and around 6 kilometers from Naroda Patiya.

Pande admitted before the SIT that through out the day he didn’t move out of his office and visited Naroda Patiya and Gulberg only late in the evening…by that time the massacre was over and done with.

SIB messages show that there were three alerts about the impending massacre at Gulberg.

Date: 28.02.02

Time: 12:15

Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad To: State SIB Control Room

Muslims reside in Gulberg Society.

Mob is surrounding the place.

Strict watch should be kept there.

Date: 28.02.02

Time: 14:50

Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad To: State SIB Control Room

Mob of 3000 rioters has surrounded Gulberg Society, take immediate action.

Date: 28.02.02

Time: 17:00

Sender: Police Inspector CJ Bharwad To: State SIB Control Room

Mob attacked the society from all sides Ehsan Jaffri and women and children burnt alive.

Houses are ablaze. Mob is looting from homes.

In his defence Pande said in his statement: “On 28.2.2002 requests were received from different police stations seeking additional force and SRP and whatever forces were available with me the same were dispatched. However, I found that no feedback had been received by any one of them. This led me to presumption that additional forces reached in time and they were able to control the situation.”

SIT accepted Pande’s defence and gave him and the Gujarat Administration a clean chit.

The state government told the SIT that the 2002 riots were a spontaneous reaction to the Godhra tragedy, but documentary evidence tells a different story.

Eleven years after the after the horrific incidents as Narendra Modi aspires for the prime minister’s chair, Headlines Today has tried to throw fresh light on why his ascension remains so contentious.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/gujarat-riots-2002-godhra-sudden-spontaneous-backlash-frantic-police-warnings-ignored/1/262413.html


PRESS RELEASE- Gujarat- Mrs Zakia Jafri files her Protest Petition

 Press release

Mrs Zakia Jafri files her Protest Petition

A cold-blooded and clear-cut conspiracy to manipulate the tragic Godhra incident — from the moment of the terrible news  — was planned and executed by Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi (Accused no 1), in close consultation, especially with then Health Minister Mr Ashok Bhatt (accused no. 2) , Urban development minister, IK Jadeja (accused no 3) and other co-accused cabinet colleagues and especially VHP leader Mr Jaydeep Patel (accused no 21), with whom the CM was first in touch with soon after the tragic Godhra incident. This was aimed at ensuring that the tragedy at Godhra becomes ready fuel for the meticulously planned massacre of innocent Muslims all over Gujarat.

Mrs Zakia Ahsan Jafri today filed her Protest Petition praying for the rejection in toto of the SIT final report dated 8.2.2012, making a cogent case for the charge-sheeting of all 59 accused listed in her complaint dated 8.6.2006, beginning with Mr. Modi the chief minister of Gujarat.

The protest petition that runs into 514 pages also has three volumes of annexures and ten CDs. The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) with its entire legal team has assisted in this painstaking and voluminous exercise.

The Petitioner strongly argues that the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) had adequate documents and statements to come to a prima facie finding against all the accused. SIT, however decided to cover up the crimes and has gone out of its way to misguide the Court and give a clean chit to the accused.

Phone call records show Mr Modi (accused no 1, A-1) to have been in close touch with Mr Jaideep Patel (A-21) immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials and ministers. Thereafter, there is a hasty and publicly conducted post-mortem at Godhra, out in the public against all law and procedure while a crowd of VHP workers was present. Mr Modi is present while this happens.

Thereafter, while passions are being cynically stoked, another sinister decision to hand over the dead bodies of Godhra victims to VHP strongman Mr Jaideep Patel (A-21) is taken at a mini-cabinet meeting presided by Mr Modi in Godhra, at which co-accused ministers are physically present. Mr Jaideep Patel too is present at the meeting. Then Godhra district magistrate, Mrs Jayanti Ravi has clearly stated that Mr Jaideep Patel was present at the meeting.

The Protest Petition goes into great detail, relying on documents from the investigation papers, on how the administration and police were deliberately paralysed and neutralised by the conspiracy hatched by Mr Modi, Co-accused, then Gujarat DGP Mr K Chakravari (A-25), then police commissioner, Ahmedabad, PC Pande (A-29), then additional chief secretary, home, Mr Ashok Narayan (A-28) and other key members of the bureaucracy and police who connived as co conspirators in the conspiracy.

Key field reports from the SIB (state intelligence bureau) from all districts were given to the SIT by January 2010, i.e., full three and a half months before the SIT submitted its first investigation report to the Supreme Court on 12.5.2010. These reports reveal a grim ground level reality: gross provocations and bloodthirsty slogans by VHP workers from 4 p.m. onwards on the afternoon of 27.2.2002 (“Khoon ka badla khoon se lenge”, blood for blood) while Mr Modi had still not left for Godhra.

Phone records of the chief minister’s office (CMO) reveal that he went to the airport to catch a helicopter for Godhra via Meghaninagar where the massacre at Gulberg society the next day was organized. Phone records of the CMO also show that after landing in Ahmedabad from Vadodara by aircraft (where he had travelled by road from Godhra on his return journey) too, Mr Modi and officials of the CMO who accompanied him are located at Meghaninagar late evening (mobile phone call records).

Just a week before the Godhra incident, on  22.2.2002, Mr Modi had won in the Rajkot bye-election by a slender margin (a few thousand votes). The glory of his victory had been dimmed with minority votes going heavily against him. Former CPI leader and later Parliamentarian from the Congress, Ahsan Jafri had been an active campaigner against Mr Modi in the bye-election lived in Gulberg Society, in Meghaninagar.

In a sinister furtherance of the conspiracy, the late night meeting at Mr Modi’s residence effectively neutralised the police and administration from doing its constitutional duty. The Protest Petition states that the credibility of the evidence related to the critical 27.2.2002 meeting must be tested during trial and that it was not the job of the investigating agency to pre-judge the issue, acting like a court overstepping its jurisdiction to protect and save powerful accused.

Evidence from Police Control Room (PCR) records submitted by Mr. PC Pande to the SIT after 15.3.2011 reveal cynical and cold-blooded mobilization of RSS workers and VHP men at the Sola Civil hospital from 4 a.m. onwards on 28.2.2002 in aggressive anticipation for the arrival of the dead bodies. Repeated PCR messages, that the home department under Mr. Modi (A-1, who held the home portfolio) and Mr PC Pande (A-21) were trying to conceal, show that both in Ahmedabad and in several locations all over Gujarat crowds were mobilized to aggressively parade bodies with bloodthirsty sloganeering, inciting mobs to attack innocent Muslims.

The then joint police commissioner, Ahmedabad, Mr Shivanand Jha, also an accused in the complaint (A-38), was jurisdictionally in charge of Sola Civil Hospital in Zone 1. As the messages extracted below show, repeated PCR messages desperately ask for bandobast; they speak of the staff and doctors of the hospital being under threat; of a 5,000-6,000 strong mob accompanying the bodies and finally one message also says that “riots have broken out.”

Yet Mr Modi, the entire Home department and the accused under him and individuals accused including Mr Chakravarti (A-25) and Mr PC Pande (A-29) in collaboration with the SIT have strived hard to conceal this evidence. While such aggressive funeral processions were allowed in Ahmedabad, an equally explosive situation prevailed simultaneously in Khedbrahma, Vadodara, Modasa, Dahod, Anand etc. A cynical government under Mr Modi and his co-accused conspirators has done their level best to conceal this evidence.

The PCR records — that the SIT was trying hard to conceal — also reveal that while the Ahmedabad police under Mr PC Pande and the home department  under Mr Modi and then MOS, home Mr Gordhan Zadaphiya (A-5 ) had enough forces to escort a VHP leader known for his inciteful slogans, Acharya Giriraj Kishore, from the airport to the Sola Civil hospital to accompany the processionists, shouting filthy hate speeches and murderous slogans. But they did not have enough forces to send to Naroda Patiya where 96 persons were massacred in broad daylight (charge-sheet figures in the Naroda Patiya case, though more deaths have been recorded) and 69 persons at Gulberg society the same day and around the same time aggressive processions were being allowed. Mr Modi allowing and openly supporting the bandh and neutralising his administration, decided to give the RSS, VHP, BD mobs a free run of the Gujarat streets to massacre innocents.

As bad or worse were the provocations and hate speeches that were cynically allowed and encouraged by Mr. Modi and his administration. PCR messages of Ahmedabad and SIB messages from all over the state are testimony to this incendiary mobilisation.

Warnings Ignored (from SIB and PCR messages)

12:30 pm on the 27th February: An SIB officer through fax no 525 communicated to the headquarters that there were reports that some dead bodies would be brought to Kalupur Hospital station in Ahmedabad city. “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action.”

Another SIB message numbered as Out/184/02 again warned about communal incidents if bodies were brought to Ahmedabad. “Communal violence will occur in the city. So take preventive action.”  The same message said that karsevaks had given explosive interviews to a TV station at Godhra and had threatened to unleash violence against the Muslims.

At 1:51 hours and again at 1:59 hours on the 28th February there were panic messages by wireless police vans positioned at Sola Hospital demanding immediate protection from Special Reserve Police platoons and the presence of DCP Zone 1.

Message at 2:44 hours on 28.2.2002: the motor cavalcade has reached Sola Civil Hospital.

Page No. 5790 of Annexure IV, File XIV reveals that at 04:00 am a mob comprising of 3,000 swayamsevaks, that is the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had already gathered at the Civil Sola Hospital.

At 7.14 a.m. the PCR van again informs the Police Control Room that a large mob had assembled at the hospital. (Page 5796 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents).

Again, another message three minutes later at 7:17 a.m. (Page 5797 of Annexure IV, File XIV of the documents) says that a mob of 500 people was holding up the traffic.

Ten bodies were taken to Ramol, an area near Naroda and a massive funeral rally of over 5,000-6,000 mourners took the bodies to Hatkeshwar crematorium in the afternoon.

At 11:55 am a PCR message is sent out saying that the Hindu mob had become violent and had set a vehicle on fire and was indulging in arson on the highway.

Message at 11.55 a.m. on 28.2.2002 (Page No. 6162 Annexure IV File XV) saying that “Sayyed Saheb, the Protocol Officer had informed Sola-1 that riots have started at Sola civil hospital at the High Court where the dead bodies were brought.”

Again, there is another message with no indication of time (Page No..6172 of 28.2.2002) that states that the officers and employees of the hospital had been surrounded by a 500 strong mob and they could not come out”. The message also made a demand for more security for the civil hospital at Sola.

Annexure IV File XIV- Message No. 5907 and 5925 at 11:58 a.m. on 28.2.2002 shows that when 10 dead bodies were taken from Ramol Jantanagar to the Hatkeshwar cremation ground, a crowd of 5,000-6,000 persons accompanied this procession.

On the morning of 28.2.2002, a SIB message (on page 258 of Annexure III File XIX, message No. Com/538/28/2/02) says that a funeral procession was allowed to take place at Khedbrahma, a town in Sabarkantha district. The message adds that soon after the funeral procession 2 Muslims on their way to Khedbrahma were stabbed and the situation had become very tense.

The subsequent message at page No. 262 of the same file (Annexure III File XIX) mentions that 150 Bajrang Dal workers were on their way from Ayodhya to Khedbrahma.

Another message at page 254 (Annexure III file XIX) – Com/574/2002 sent out at 15.32 p.m. on 28.2.2002 states that one more victim of the tragic train burning at Godhra, Babubhai Harjibhai Patel, resident at Vaghrol, Tal. Vadali in Sabarkantha was brought back and a funeral procession was organised in the town.

Warnings about the deliberate mobilization

At page 365 of Annexure III File XXI( D-166) message No. 73/02 dated 28.2.2002 sent by the ACP(Intelligence) Surat Region to State Intelligence Bureau Headquarters at Gandhinagar, says that between 9-10 a.m. on the morning of 28.2.2002, a meeting was held at Sardar Chowk in Vapi Town where Dinesh Kumar Behri of VHP and Acharya  Brahmbatt of Bajrang Dal , Jawahar Desai of BJP and Vinod Chowdhary of RSS made inflammatory speeches regarding the incident at Godhra and called upon the Hindus to unite.

Another message at page 188 in Annexure III, File XVIII sent at 20:38 hours on the day of the Godhra train burning tragedy, i.e., 27.2.2002, mentions the following: “Dilip Trivedi, the General Secretary of VHP and Joint Secretary Dr. Jaideep Patel and Kaushik Mehta in a Joint Statement issued by them have declared that innocent Ram Bhatt’s have been attacked and hence Gujarat Bandh has been declared. They have also stated that the attack on the Ramsevaks returning from Ayodhya was pre-planned by the Muslims. Innocent ladies were molested and compartments were set on fire and Ramsevaks were burnt alive.”

The joint statement issued by the three senior-most office bearers of Gujarat VHP’s unit was clearly designed to stoke communal passion. A reasonable response would have been an immediate government clampdown on such public utterances and if required putting all these trouble makers under preventive detention.  But no such action was taken. The VHP called for a bandh on the 28th February and the BJP, the ruling party, openly supported the bandh call. The State, instead of clamping down on the bandh call, gave the VHP leaders and its cadres a free reign and a license to kill. 

At page 345, the message titled Vardhi No. 24 contained in Annexure III File XIX dated 27.2.2002 sent from D.O., Ahmedabad to the Intelligence Office at Virangam (Virangam is in Ahmedabad rural district) stated that 50 to 75 members of the VHP and Bajrang Dal had gathered at Virangam town chali and in the Golwada area and the situation was very tense.

Another message in the same file, i.e., Annexure III, File XVIII (D-160) at Page No. 19 Message No. 531 ifrom SIB Police to KR Singh at 1810 hours on 27.2.2002 said that, “on 27.2.2002 at 4.30 p.m. when the train arrived at the Ahmedabad Railway station, the kar sevaks were armed with ‘dandas’ and shouting murderous slogans ‘khoon ka badla khoon’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’.” 

Fax Mes. D-1/  HA/ Jaher Sabha/ Junagadh/ 311/02 dated.27.2.02 at10.12 pm sent by PI, CID, Int. Bhavnagar to IG, Guj. State IB, Gandhi Nagar said that Sadhu Samaj president Gopalnandji gave an agitated speech at Junagadh Kadva chowk, on dt.27.2.02 between19.30 to 21.00 hrs. The message then goes on to name specific local VHP leaders and says that they expressed their condolences to Kar Sevaks and then delivered hate speeches and urged all Hindus to unite and told the audience to chop the hands and legs of our enemies. They said in their speech that the incident that occurred at Godhra in the morning at 7.30a.m., yet there was no reaction from the Hindus which was very unfortunate. “Muslims who live in India with sincerity and patriotism, we don’t have any agitation against them. But we have objections against those who lived in India and favour Pakistan and carried out activities against the country. Anti- national activities are being done in Madrasas. We have objection against it. We do not have any kind of objection against spiritual religious education to the children. Pooja prathna at the temple and pray in the Masjid but Pakistan Zindabad is not right. Above mention ideas were expressed by them.”

Fax Mes. Com/HM/550/ 02 Dt.27.2.02 23:59 Out No.398 from ACP, Int. G’nagar Region to IG, Guj. State IB, Gandhi Nagar says that 50 Karsevaks travelling by a special bus from Ahmedabad reached Modasa centre in village Vadagam at Taluka Dhansura at around 18:30 pm on 27.2.02. “They were received by a mob of 500 people and these kar sevaks addressed the mob and told the people how the compartment of Sabarmati Express was attacked. People present in the mob got excited and at 21:30 p.m. people from around the village gathered and the mob swelled to a huge size. To maintain law and order the force was not sufficient and about 10 paan bidi shops were set on fire. Vehicles like Jeep, Maruti and Ambassador were set on fire. Vehicles and shops seem to belong to Muslims. One Yasinbhai Multani’s shop at Kalol center TaKadi, Bavlu PS village Kalyanpur was burnt down by the mob”.

Throughout February 28, 2002 while fires were set all over Ahmedabad city, PCR records show that repeated calls from different areas to the Fire Brigade drew went answered.

Table of Phone Records 

Call Type Cell-No (Name) Duration Secs Date-Time Dialed / Received No – Name
Outgoing 9825037439

A P Patel

(Accused No 1, Mr Modi)

77 27.2.2002




Mr Jaideep Patel VHP General Secretary

(Accused No 21)

Outgoing 9825037439

A P Patel

(Accused No 1, Mr Modi)

20 27.2.2002



Mr Jaideep Patel VHP General Secretary

(Accused No 21)

The Protest Petition prays for the charge sheeting of all the accused, a transfer of the further investigation to an independent agency and an admitting of the Petition.

(Trustees, Citizens for Justice and Peace)

I.M. Kadri                   Taizoon Khorakiwala               Nandan Maluste

Cyrus Guzder             Arvind Krishnaswamy             Javed Akhtar

Alyque Padamsee       Anil Dharker                          Ghulam Peshimam

Rahul Bose                 Javed Anand                            Teesta Setalvad

Cedric Prakash

Map Sola Route2 Maps For Printout SIB Messages Aggresive mobi Sola Civil Hos 1 Guj Map Attack and funeral procession


How do we remember Gujarat 2002 #Narendramodi

  • http://infochangeindia.org/images/2013/gujarat.jpg

Oishik Sircar analyses the sophisticated spectacle of economic development that has insidiously annihilated memories of the Gujarat riots


A history-vanishing event

The spectre of Gujarat 2002 inhabits public consciousness in India in a way where memory and forgetting are not racing against each other, but are constantly on a collision path. Like magnets, when they reach the point of collision they repel each other. Their paths are located on a Mobius strip: so if you start with memory you encounter forgetting racing at you with a vengeance, and if you start with forgetting, the phantom of memory will always be lurking. The consequence is an uneasy co-existence where the primary concern is not whether Gujarat should be remembered or forgotten, but how do we remember whathappened in 2002. While forgetting here is not about denying what happened, memory is about selecting which story to tell. And every story claims to be ‘the truth’: in which forensic truth is competing against experiential truth is competing against neoliberal truth is competing against electoral truth is competing against artistic truth.

With the competing narratives of ‘truth’ that have been in circulation since the burning of the Sabarmati Express compartment S6 in Godhra on February 27, 2002 to the recent death of Maulana Hussain Umarji on January 13, 2013, there are stories after stories: official, legal, colloquial, fabricated, imagined, hopeful, utopic, devastating, disgusting. Umarji, who was instrumental in organising relief work after the 2002 violence, was falsely accused of being the “mastermind” in the train-burning incident, spent eight years in jail, fell seriously ill while in prison, and was released in 2011. With his death things haven’t come full circle. Events that have transpired between then and now have only proliferated spirals of impunity, the celebratory hand-in-hand march of Hindutva and neoliberalism, the spectacular rise and rise of the idea of Narendra Modi, the co-option of the Muslim vote-bank by the BJP, the sophisticated marketing and distribution of fear, the sanitisation of the public sphere in Gujarat, and the unending trials: legal and personal.

I was a young law student in Pune when news of the Godhra train-burning and the later events of a violent Hindu ‘revenge’ against Muslims started coming in. Most of the English language media was critical of the Modi government, but their characterisation of what was happening in Gujarat followed the standard cause and effect explanation: the Muslims burnt the Hindus in the train, so now the Hindus are taking their revenge on Muslims. The Newtonian physics of Narendra Modi’s immediate response was to say: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” And Godhra was marked (almost for eternity) as the flashpoint. The art of mobilising public opinion through the marking of a singular event as history-vanishing was mastered by the US government when September 11 happened, and it has been used to justify all the military aggressions and invasions that the US has carried out in the name of self-defence and democracy since then. Godhra has been made to occupy our memories in an identical manner: it is the flash that blinds us to the history of how the pogrom was meticulously planned much before the train caught fire. It also blinds us to the historical roots of Hindutva in Gujarat that did not erupt only as a response to Godhra.

The ability to apply nuance, to see through the spectacle of this blinding flashpoint at my first experience of surrogate consumption of real-time communal violence, was pretty low. A mix of bewilderment, anger and numbness was what I felt. The only previous occasion in my lifetime when I had heard about ‘communal’ violence was a decade ago in 1992 when the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished by militant Hindu mobs followed by an anti-Muslim killing spree. At that time, as a school student, all I looked forward to in the distant city of Calcutta, was the curfews, because that would mean not having to go to school. During the long periods of curfew, I would enjoy cricket matches on TV without my mother constantly asking me to go study (because exams were indefinitely postponed), and playing cricket on the street with friends during the two-hour curfew breaks that were allowed once a week. The brutality of the violence was conveniently censored by my parents as well as by state television. While some of it did reach me, the lack of discussion about it at home didn’t make it so obvious. Some unrest was happening somewhere else in India, and the curfew was just a way to keep us safe, was the standard refrain. I didn’t complain.

Ten years later in 2002 when I was looking at the grotesque images of heaps of dead bodies, maimed and charred, and deserted streets and burnt houses, and desecrated mosques, on TV (privatised 24/7 news media was enjoying its fledgling liberated status covering the violence without regulation after several years of state control), the language that was put into circulation to characterise what was happening followed the cause/effect logic. Everyone was referring to the violence as the ‘post-Godhra riots’. Everything that was happening was being traced back to Godhra. We were surreptitiously being told that our memory-scales must have a limit: don’t look beyond Godhra; that should be the only source for your explanations; treat Godhra as exceptional, so that what has followed it, despite the unprecedented levels of brutality, becomes routine. It took some time to understand that the violence was far from a riot. It was a genocidal massacre, or more aptly a pogrom – as Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi notes in his book Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India – which is “an event driven by words and images [of anti-Muslim hatred and disgust], as much as by those [acts of pre-planned violence] that accompany it.”

When you type ‘Gujarat 2002’ into Google even today, the first link that comes up is the Wikipedia entry, and it starts with the following words: “The 2002 Gujarat violence was a series of incidents starting with the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence between Hindus and Muslims…” A Google image search throws up photos, the first of which are images of the burning train compartment. The significantly detailed April 2002 Human Rights Watch report on the carnage titled “We Have No Orders To Save You”: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat opens with the sentence: “The ongoing violence in Gujarat was triggered by a Muslim mob’s torching of two train cars carrying Hindu activists on February 27, 2002.” In several critical and closely documented publications on the violence – academic, activist, journalistic – Godhra has been marked as what feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum has called “the precipitating event”.The ‘post-Godhra riots’ adage continues to be a part of the conscious and unconscious vocabulary for most Indians, and despite the activism, civil society outcry, several detailed fact-finding reports, enquiry commissions, sustained and selective media coverage, some convictions, Godhra remains that flashpoint moment that blinds us to the long-term, organised and meticulously planned continuum of anti-Muslim hatred that resulted in the Gujarat pogrom. In fact, the construction of Godhra as the enraging flashpoint closed the space to grieve for those who lost their lives in the train fire.

The spectacle of neoliberalism

On one of the days in March 2002 while the violence continued unabated in Gujarat, The Times of Indiacarried a quotation by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman on its front-page: “The government’s solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” I did not know who Friedman was (and didn’t have a way to find out since Wikipedia was just a year old and not yet very popular) nor the devastation that he and the ‘Chicago-boys’ had unleashed in South America, but at that time, looking at the reports of state complicity in the violence and the government’s inability to stop the killings, the quote seemed apt. For some reason this quote stuck with me, and years later I found out about Friedman and hislaissez-faire exploits in Chile and how his ideas inspired the US-supported military coup bringing the genocidal dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. As Naomi Klein has pointed out so powerfully in her brilliant book The Shock Doctrine: all the sham celebration by fundamentalist free-marketeers about Chile’s economic development was the history-vanishing tactic to make us forget about the pre-coup Chile where Salvador Allende – the democratically elected socialist president who was assassinated during the coup – had ushered in pro-people economic policies.

It is a cruel coincidence that an identical script has unfolded in Gujarat where the spectacle of free market economic development (or what can also be called ‘neoliberalism’ where the free market and the state become indistinguishable) has been manufactured to discipline our memories of 2002. This one regulates our memory-scales further: there is no history beyond Godhra, and all history is about Gujarat’s unparalleled economic progress. The ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit where India’s richest industrialists line up every year to offer heaps of praise for Narendra Modi’s neoliberal economic vision is a perversely planned attempt by the government to thwart efforts that try to keep alive the memories of genocide. Sample this quote by Anil Ambani: “Narendra Bhai has been described in different ways. My personal favourite comes from what his name literally means in Sanskrit – a conjunction of Nara and Indra. Nara means man and Indra means king or leader. Narendra bhai is the lord of men and a king among kings.” The deification of a man who had personally overseen the design of the pogrom, who has never expressed any remorse about the murder of thousands of Muslims as the accountable political authority in that state, and who has carried on spewing hate speech with impunity, says a lot about the intimacy between neoliberalism and genocide. And this new kind of sophisticated history-vanishing strategy is not about making us forget what happened in 2002. To put into effect the act of forgetting, there has to be some recognition of memory. But this is an insidious method that annihilates memory with such force that the need for forgetting doesn’t even arise. It creates a complete blank slate: a tabula rasa.

This is evident in the way I hear a majority of the people in India, especially the identity-disregarding Hindu upper class/caste youth and young professionals, celebrating Modi’s economic mantra. During his recent visit to Delhi University’s Sri Ram College of Commerce to deliver the Sri Ram Keynote Oration, while there were protests outside (by both the Modi detractors and followers, and the police violence targeting only the detractors) a group of 1,800 young people (and some old I’m sure) sat inside the SRCC basketball court-turned-auditorium listening with rapt attention to Modi holding forth on ‘Emerging business models in the global scenario’.

As a FaceBook status of a lawyer friend who attended the speech said: “Listening to Modi’s keynote address at the SRCC, New Delhi… inspiring!! A blend of sound ideas, strong oratory skills and good humour. This audience is captive and captivated ☺”. The last sentence that is followed by the smiley is disturbingly telling. The neoliberal spectacle of economic growth that Modi and his government have cerebrally injected into our consciousness operates as an anaesthetic, despite several comprehensive reports pointing to the contrary. And it has a drugging effect, where none of these counter findings work as effective antidote. In fact, whenever an attempt is made to call Modi’s bluff by citing contrarian statistics, we end up being sucked into a conversation (hardly one actually) on Modi’s terms. We are made captive: a state of un-freedom where our thoughts are controlled by someone else’s diktat; but we feel that we are captivated: that we are using our rational mind cheerfully and wholeheartedly to agree with what he has to say. Such are the emerging business models in the global scenario: where genocides lay the strongest foundations for economic miracles.

In a blog-post on the NDTV website published a day after the Modi speech, a 19-year-old student from SRCC wrote: “Today we stayed back in college for over four hours to listen to him, and he did not disappoint. We got to know through our parents that there were protests outside the college. I believe the protests were not needed as there is more to Mr Modi than the Gujarat riots of 2002. We can’t judge him for that alone. He needs to be heard and judged for the contribution he’s made to the state’s development.” Yes, Modi did not disappoint. He has not disappointed those who have democratically voted him to power term after term since 2002 (and this includes a certain section of Muslim voters in Gujarat as well). The reason clearly is what this student and so many others are smoothly disciplined to believe: his contribution to the state’s economic development is so laudable that we should not “judge him” for the 2002 pogrom.

This student goes as far as to uphold Modi’s freedom of speech: “he needs to be heard”, as if his speech has been censored by those who have persistently called his bluff. Yes he needs to be heard so that more and more people are captivated to become captive by the blinding effects that genocide and neoliberalism create when they come together. And they come together in the most innocuous fashion: through Modi’s calm, smiling face, and as was pointed out in my friend’s comment on FaceBook above, his good humour. He carries his development brief (of which the genocide was an intrinsic part) with wicked sincerity to the politics of cleansing and accumulation, drawing legitimacy not only from the Hindutva brigade, but also from the sham of a democratic process that has re-elected him four times in a row, and the collective support from the likes of the 1,800 students in SRCC, most of whom will end up holding high designations in some of the world’s and India’s largest corporations.

It is not surprising that I didn’t come across a single comment on FaceBook, blogs or other publications where at least one of those who attended the speech critically reflected on it. It seems like not only the physical space, but even the mind space of whose who attended his speech at SRCC was thoroughly cleansed and sanitised. And for anyone else who tried to reason otherwise, they were either accused of being Congress supporters or of not having the privilege of authenticity: you were not present, so you have no idea. The second accusation also plays out constantly against those who attempt to keep the memory of Gujarat 2002 alive from a distance: you have no right to speak, you’ve never been to Gujarat.

Banal, not exceptional

Commenting on the very relaxed demeanour of Adolf Otto Eichmann – the German Nazi who was one of the frontline organisers of the holocaust – right before his execution in Jerusalem in 1962, the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt referred to this very extreme normalisation of violence embodied in a person as the “banality of evil”. The phrase points to the fact that acts of tremendous brutality are not committed by demons, but by very regular people in what they consider are very regular actions in the course of their very regular duty. It is what the media analyst Edward S Herman has called “normalising the unthinkable”. The deep tragedy of the situation in India is that it’s not just Modi’s smile, but also our state of feeling captivated by his humour, and remaining captive in the narrative chronology where there’s Godhra and then there’s neoliberal economic development (and nothing exists in between) which has become the new banality of evil: a banality that we feed and keep alive every day: from Gujarat to Kandhamal to Khairlanji to Chhattisgarh to Manipur to Kashmir, going back to 1984 and Nellie. And that’s a truncated version of a very dirty laundry list that we cannot wash clean even with the most sophisticatedly manufactured neoliberal detergent.

For those of us who’ve remained committed to keeping the memories of Gujarat 2002 alive – through our teaching, writing, activism, films or just because we will not be fooled by the smokescreen of economic development – there is an urgent need to question our own representations of Modi as the monster mastermind. We must concede the fact that our construction of Modi as the demon has been powerfully countered by the image of Modi the deity worshipped by industrialists and a majority of Indians alike. We first turned Modi into an exceptional character, and that only aided his PR strategy to represent himself as an exceptional leader: who will beat anybody else hands down, be it in his seductive speeches attracting private investments, or his hate speeches that continue to spew anti-Muslim hatred. It is this exceptionalised construction of Modi that has taken attention away from the contingent, yet significant victories in the struggle for justice in Gujarat: the Naroda Patiya and Ode convictions. We need to treat Modi and his ilk as banal: a very troubling reflection of the way we have through our everyday and ordinary, and even secular practices, constructed and maintained India’s core as Hindu where a misogynist Ram and a predatory neoliberal market have become very comfortable bedfellows.

Predicaments of memorialisation

In our fight against forgetting Gujarat 2002, we must remain very cautious of the way we use exceptional icons – like the haunting photo of Qutubuddin Ansari begging for mercy from a Hindu mob or similar such phantasmagoric images of death and devastation – that make Gujarat 2002 stand out as an aberration in the collective imagination of this ostensibly secular republic, making that a reason for it to be forgotten. We need to be attentive to how in our overzealous attempts at remembering Gujarat, we arrogantly start to claim ownership of the private trauma of someone like Ansari who has time and again asked for his photo not to be used in reference to the pogrom.

Using “photographs of agony” – a phrase coined by John Berger – to make people remember a violent past might not always have the desired effect of shocking people out of their forgetting stupor, or lazy indifference. Sometimes it is the repeated use of these images that reduce their horror-generating quotient, and numb people to respond to them with concern. Images have the power of fixing meanings that make the subject of a photograph remain captive within its frames forever. Yet another response to the use of horrific images is for the perpetrators in power and their allies to claim higher moral ground and state that we are being irresponsible in using them – just the way in which L K Advani’s drivel in April 2002 claimed: “sometimes, speaking the truth may not be an act of responsibility” – which was nothing but an attempt at circumscribing truth. We need to guard against the appropriation of our efforts to aesthetically memorialise Gujarat, through images, films or something like the Museum of Resistance being planned in Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad, to serve the ends of political parties or corporate capital. CNN-IBN has already created and broadcast a film advertising the Museum of Resistance, and one wonders what their stakes are, apart from towing the obsessive “whatever it takes” line of journalism to get their TRPs up.

The impossibility of truth

Despite the copious amounts of incontrovertible evidence gathered by several independent fact-finding teams against Modi and the Gujarat government for its complicity, the several testimonies of victim-survivors clearly identifying the organisers, the Tehelka expose, the damning revelations by DIG Sanjiv Bhat, tireless efforts by Teesta Setalvad and several other human rights defenders to take the legal process for conviction and compensation ahead, the ‘truth’ about Gujarat 2002 will always be up against the behemoth of the state-corporation-Hindutva complex.

Be it Gujarat 2002 or Delhi 1984, we have had to fall back on a legal system controlled by the very state whose agents are being tried. This is a classic case of the ‘victor’s justice syndrome’ repeating itself in a domestic scenario (rather than international one) day in and day out as legal battles continue. And we pride ourselves for having an independent judiciary? It is no surprise that it took the NDA government no time to pass a draconian special security legislation like the Prevention of Terrorist Act after the December 13 Parliament Attack, or the UPA to strengthen the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after the November 26 attacks in Bombay; but the Communal Violence Bill drafted in the wake of Gujarat 2002 lies in cold storage. Why would the state legislate on curbing its own impunity?

What hope do we have of justice when truth is an impossibility? When I went to Gujarat in 2002 as a student volunteer to work at the Shah Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad and conduct interviews as part of yet another fact-finding team – as one of the many voyeuristic tourists deliciously consuming the trauma of others so that I could live to tell the tale of my sham heroism – I experienced something that changed my perspectives of justice and healing forever. At the end of a very taxing day of recording survivor testimonies, I was waiting for my colleague at the entrance of Shah Alam camp when I heard the laughter of children coming from within the dargah. In the midst of the injured and maimed, this sounded other-worldly. I followed the sound to the central courtyard of the dargah and saw a huge group of children (many of them orphaned) along with some very energetic members from a group called Play-for-Peace standing in a circle, holding hands and singing a very funny song called Bajra: about the everyday practice of grinding theBajra to make chapatis at home.

The chorus of so many children laughing and singing together was for that particular moment a magical feeling. Their laughter was infectious – everyone around joined the cacophony. The circle marked the formation of a very different kind of community: one joined in sorrow through laughter. In the non-competitive games, the children who made mistakes were never ‘out’, rather they occupied pride of position ‘in’ the circle to lead the game. The very serious-looking, serious-sounding, serious work that many bourgeoisie volunteers like me were doing looked poorly pretentious in the face of songs and games that could evoke spontaneous laughter in children who’ve either been orphaned, seen their family members brutally raped and killed or ‘disappeared’. I never knew that the power of collective laughter could not only heal but also arrest cycles of violence. This was an equally powerful way to mourn. Despite my privileged position of an outsider, who will eventually go back to safer quarters, playing with the children, and spending those few days in Ahmedabad laughing with them gave me a contingent sense of our shared commitment to mourning in precarious times: be it through crying, or laughter.

Beyond what the legal process will achieve, while our struggles against state impunity and the spectacular onslaught of neoliberalism continue, we need to think of ways in which we can use the powers of mourning to mobilise political communities of human beings, as Judith Butler says, joined through a shared feeling of loss and vulnerability, to forge ethical relationships that connect us with those whose lives were destroyed: not through sentimentality, but solidarity. Gujarat 2002 is paradigmatic of the brutality that a majoritarian secular democracy is capable of. We cannot undo this truth even if Modi is convicted. We can only hope to mourn together, laugh together and ensure that we never forget. That will be our lived truth.

The author is an academic currently based in Melbourne researching the legal, testimonial and aesthetic archives through which Gujarat 2002 is remembered and forgotten.

Infochange News & Features, February 2013



Framed and acquitted: My tryst with late Umarji

By Abu Zafar1/17/13


“Jail se aane ke baad mere ghar ke samne bahot se patrkaar the, magar maine unhe baat karne se mana kardia. Gujarat mein Sach baat kadvi lagti hai (There were several media persons present outside my house after I was released from jail, but I chose not to interact with them. Truth sounds bitter in Gujarat),” said Maulana Hussain Ibrahim Umarji when I first met him about two weeks after his acquittal.

(A memoir into the life of Moulana Umarji who spent eight years in jail in connection with the Godhra train burning incident and was later acquitted of all charges)

I remember that Umarji was not ready to talk to any media person after his release. He had spent more than 8 years of his life in jail for no offence of his.

Gujarat Police had termed him as a ‘key conspirator’, while the media preferred ‘mastermind’, of the Godhra train burning incident which led to the death of 58 Karsevaks (workers affiliated to right-wing groups) travelling in the Sabarmati Express on 28 February 2002.

Though Umarji passed away last Sunday, his tryst with destiny has raised several questions which continue to haunt a secular and democratic state like India.

After trying hard for two weeks, Umarji had finally agreed to talk to me. In an exclusive interview in March 2011, he told me that he had never seen the Sabarmati Express as it passes Godhra only at night.

He even justified his reluctance of talking with media-persons by saying that he did not see any benefit in it. He said that there were chances of him being harassed by the state machinery again.

As he continued talking, he went on uncovering how Police fabricated cases against innocents and recorded confessional statements after meting out mental and physical torture.

“Is system ko badlo warna police har jagah dastakhat lekar kahani ghad le gi (Change this system, otherwise the police will take signatures everywhere and start fabricating stories),” he said.

According to Umarji, his only crime which attracted the wrath of the state machinery was that he submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpaee, who had visited Godhra during the riots in 2002.

In the memorandum, Umarji had pointed out the sort of preparations done by the rioters before the Godhra riots itself. According to him, post-Godhra incidents were not riots but ‘mass murder’.

He had also shared his and other victims’ difficulties with Vajpaee and human rights organizations.

“They wished that none should complain against their cruelty and should tolerate whatever is being done. Our action offended them,” Umarji said in a bitter tone.

Discussing the riots, he recalled that Godhra was a target of communal forces since a long time. On 23 March 1948, Godhra was set on fire and even during Advani’s Rath Yatra 26 Muslims were killed.

In the post-Godhra riots, 258 Muslims were killed only in Panchmahal district and their bodies were not even given to us, he had said.

Umarji, who had graduated from the well-known Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband in 1967, headed relief work during and after the Gujarat riots. He also managed a relief camp which housed about 3500 refugees of the Gujarat carnage.

He had very close relations with the former Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind chief Maulana Asad Madani and had met former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and H. D. Deve Gowda during his days of social work.


Maulana Hussain Umarji- He died a broken man

JYOTI PUNWANI, The Hindu, Jan 17/1/2013

Maulana Hussain Umarji. File Photo
PTIMaulana Hussain Umarji. File Photo

Though Maulana Umarji was the first to apologise on behalf of his community for the Godhra incident, he died tarnished, accused of being the mastermind even after his acquittal

Maulana Hussain Umarji died of brain haemorrhage on Sunday night, a free man but a tarnished one. As his son Saeed said, “His mind could never free itself of the stain on his reputation. Even after he was acquitted, the media kept asking: how did the ‘mastermind’ go free?”

Few outside Godhra knew of Maulana Umarji till Coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express was burnt there on February 27, 2002, leading to the gruesome death of 59 passengers, most of them Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) followers. The subsequent violence against Muslims in Gujarat saw thousands of injured, raped, orphaned and widowed Muslims pour into Godhra from neighbouring villages, necessitating the setting up of relief camps for them. Maulana Umarji, the head of the town’s Ghanchi community, ran the three camps, and thereby entered the limelight, finally leading to his arrest as the mastermind of the train burning, a year after the incident.

As Saeed Umarji said, “If this is the reward you get for doing social work, God save this country.”


It wasn’t just social work that Saeed’s father did in those violent months of 2002. Running the camps without much help was difficult enough. But that could have been done by others equally efficiently. Maulana Umarji did what no one else could. He kept his flock in check. Notorious for their impulsive violent reactions to any slight to their faith (it was outside their settlement near Godhra station that the Sabarmati coach was set on fire), Godhra’s Ghanchi Muslims couldn’t contain themselves as they heard tales of atrocities from the villagers who poured into their relief camps, punished for something with which they had had no connection. (Incidentally, Narendra Modi is a Ghanchi.) Additionally, in those days, night curfew was on, and the police were conducting nightly raids on Ghanchi localities, hunting for those who burnt the train, picking up anyone they could. (As many as 63 of the 94 accused were acquitted.)

In this explosive atmosphere, Maulana Umarji succeeded in preventing a major flare-up between the police and his flock. But that was not his only achievement. The Maulana was the first to apologise on behalf of his community for the burning of the Sabarmati coach.

He did this at the first peace meeting called by Godhra’s Collector, and then at subsequent meetings. He apologised too in front of then Prime Minister Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi, when they came to see the burnt coach. These apologies went unreported, as did his condemnation of the incident and his appeal for peace sent to newspapers.

This was the man arrested as the “mastermind” of the train burning, on the basis of a statement made by a criminal in custody who retracted it the moment he was produced before a magistrate. Everyone in Polan Bazar, Godhra’s main Muslim area, saw the police take away their 63-year-old spiritual leader just before dawn from his house, hobbling without spectacles or walking stick. The next day, the media went berserk with lurid tales of contacts with Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Mullah Umar, fiery sermons, hidden wealth … all these accompanied by close-ups of the Maulana’s face contorted in anger, fitting exactly the stereotype of the “jehadi antinational Mullah.” Such was the impact of this coverage that when he was acquitted eight years later, Hindus across Gujarat cursed the police and the judge for letting the “mastermind” off.

No support

For the Maulana, there couldn’t have been a worse charge. As he told this reporter in April 2002, “Muslims have been taught to be patient, so all this (violence) we are facing today, we shall suffer it. But what makes me angry is when they question our patriotism. Don’t they know that 14,000 ulema had been hung from the trees of Delhi for fighting for freedom? My own guru was in jail in Malta for six years. The British promised him freedom if he only gave up Gandhiji. He refused. I fear the country is not safe in their hands. It will be ruined.”

The tragedy was that when he was arrested by the BJP government, not even the Congress for whom he had campaigned in the December 2002 Assembly elections, spoke up in his defence. This campaign was one of the reasons for his arrest. The other was that with his outspoken denunciation of the treatment of Muslims to the Prime Minister, and his open help to the families of those arrested from Godhra, he had become the defiant face of Gujarat’s Muslims at a time when the entire community was cowed down.

Maulana Umarji never got bail, even after the charges of terrorism were removed in 2009. While he languished in jail, six of his children were married off. In February 2011, as his community thronged his house after he finally came home having been acquitted, his first question to this reporter was to inquire about her health, and narrate how jail had actually done him good thanks to Ramdev’s yoga classes there.

Apparently, not enough good to counter the stigma Modi’s government and the media had put him through. Even though a fiercely protective son prevented him from donning his community’s leadership again, he lasted barely two years after his release.

(Jyoti Punwani is a Mumbai-based journalist and writer.)


Gulberg riots: Zakia Jafri’s plea referred to larger bench

NEW DELHI A Supreme Court benchonMondayreferredtoa larger bench the plea of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri’s widow seeking documents on probe by Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the Gulberg Housing Society riot case in Ahmedabad in 2002.
A two-judge bench of JusticeDKJainandJusticeMadan B Lokur said it cannot go into theissueasSITprobeandrelated issues concerning the Godhra and other riot cases of 2002 in Gujarat was dealt by a three-member special bench which on September 12, 2011 had passed the order relating to supply of documents to Jafri’s widow, Zakia Jafri.
“Weareoftheviewthatthe said order was passed by another bench and so it would be appropriate that the matter be heard by the same bench. Let the matter be placed before that larger bench as expeditiously as possible,“ it said.
The bench said it would not be proper for it to pass the order and propriety also demands that the matter be referred to the larger bench which had passed the order.
The apex court on September 12, 2011 had directed the SIT to forward its final report regarding the Gulberg Society riots to the local court.
The SIT headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan had probed the riot cases including the Ahmedabad Gulberg Housing Society massacre case in which Jafri, a former Congress MP, was killed.
An Ahmedabad trial court had on November 27 accepted the SIT closure report filed on March 13, 2012 in the case.
Zakia Jafri has filed the SLP challenging the trial court’s order rejecting her plea for some documents relating to the investigation in the case.
Jafri was seeking the documents to file a protest petition against the SIT’s closure report in the probe into the Gulburg Society riots in which 69 people were killed by a mob on February 28, 2002. PTI

Jafri (centre) has filed SLP challenging a trial court’s order rejecting her plea for documents relating to the probe in the case


Dalit kids get Muslim guru at temple

By , TNN | Dec 6, 2012, 03.54 AM IST

GODHRA: When chief minister Narendra Modi announced the Sadbhavana Mission in 2011, professor V K Tripathi could not avoid a wry smile sitting in his office in IIT, Delhi. After all, he has been running an organization with almost the same name for two decades before the poster-boy of Hindutva embraced Muslims under the glare of TV cameras.

Sadbhav Mission was started in 1990 after Tripathi, a professor of physics, and others were deeply moved by the Bhagalpur riots and wanted to find common ground between Hindus and Muslims. In December 2002, when Modi was still taking jibes at Muslims, the mission had organized special classes for 1,000 standard XII students of both communities.

Cut to 2012. Some 150 dalit children of different ages from a nearby slum gather at a Ram temple in Godhra and wait for their tutor. Enters Imran Pola, a young Muslim, and starts giving lessons even as idols of Ram, Sita and Laxman watch over this harmony. This is one of two classes the mission has been holding in the ground zero of the 2002 riots for the last few years. It is one of the rare bridges over the ever-widening rift between ghettoised Hindus and Muslims here.

The classes, running since 2008, were shut for a month recently after some people started harassing the Muslim teachers, but were restarted after parents of the children approached the Muslim teachers and promised them security. Don’t take away hope from the children, the parents insisted.

“A man who does not seem to believe in sadbhavana has started the Sadbhavana Mission,” Tripathi says sardonically. “I have been asking the state government to give access to central scholarships for minority children since 2008, but they insist they will not implement the scheme as it discriminates in the name of religion.” The children around Imran seem excited. “I could not even get 50% marks in standard VIII but then I came here and got 75% marks in standard IX,” says Priyanka Solanki, 15, one of the students. “Hopefully, I’ll get 85% in standard X this time and become a teacher one day.”

“I would fare badly until I came here,” says Kunal Garg. “This time, I know I will get good marks.” Parents of both children are daily wage earners. Well-known doctor Sujat Vali, who monitors Sadbhav Mission in Godhra, says, “Once a year, we take Hindu and Muslim children on a picnic around Godhra. It is moving to see kids of both communities together.”

#Gujarat- Memorial to a Genocide: Citizenship of Junk #NarendraModi

We built a monument here, to the witness as storyteller, to the activist as historian. And to the spectator as a citizen who will not be allowed to forget

Shiv Visvanathan

I’ll begin personally. I’m a sociologist and I have served as a kind of assistant munshi to Teesta Setalvad and RB Sreekumar (former Director General of Police, Gujarat) during the 10 years during which these riots were studied. I want to begin very practically. Romila Thapar put it beautifully. Genocide — and here I want to distort it a bit — like Hinduism, is a way of life. And when it’s a way of life, how does the
survivor remember?

This question came in a very pragmatic way when I was tailing the photographer who shot many of the pictures that you see here today: Binita Desai. And the first question she asked was, What are we building?

It cannot be a monument, because, we felt, and she agreed, that a monument is a tribute to forgetting. We want to remember. She said it can’t be a museum because a museum is a tribute to erasure and we need to remember. Mukul Mangalik said it beautifully (when he asked), How is philosophy possible after the genocide?

I think comedy is possible after a genocide because the most tragic comic figure in Gujarat is Narendra Modi. And if I had to build a museum today I would do a Madame Tussaud’s on Narendra Modi… It is very interesting that Modi’s range of colours are a semiotic delight. He uses speech because he somehow thinks speech can exonerate a genocide.

The other point that I want to emphasise is how to remember when a society is desperate to forget and when a society thinks development is the art of forgetting? When these photographs were being shot, an old man came to us just as we were moving out to the car; he stopped and he said, I want to just tell you a story. He said, My son was arrested at the age of 15, he is 25 today. They put him in jail in Calcutta. I don’t have the money to go and see him. Can you send him a message?

I think comedy is possible after a genocide because the most tragic comic figure in Gujarat is Narendra Modi. And if I had to build a museum today I would do a Madame Tussaud’s on Narendra Modi

It is this struggle of memory against erasure that we want to capture here. Because what we want to build here is a memorial… because what we watched after the riot was how a citizenship of memory was constructed between a group of activists and a group of survivors. It’s an invitation to story-telling and why  storytelling is important?

The biggest monument that Narendra Modi as a fascist administrator built to the riots was a waste dump. When the riots began it was exactly two-and-a-half feet high. Today, it’s seven storeys high, higher than Humayun’s Tomb and it is a tribute to the survivor. Because today the survivor realises he is treated by the Gujarat government as a piece of junk and junk needs to remember. Junk refuses to be erased, junk demands that its role in history be told and retold.

And this memorial is the tribute to the survivor, to the witness. And I want to just begin with one last story which captures for me the craftiness of this whole process. One of the journalists who went to Godhra came back and said the BJP is moving towards an electoral plan for Godhra — the social contract they offered captures what I call the evil of this project. Because they went to each of the Muslim families and said, If you vote for us we might release some of the sons arrested over the last 10 years. That is the kind of evil we have to confront and to do that we built a monument here, to the witness as storyteller, to the activist as historian. And to the spectator as a citizen who will not be allowed to forget.

Shiv Visvanathan is a social scientist and commentator.

From the  Hardnews :


Naroda Case: Kodnani, Bajrangi Get Life Term #Justice

Naroda Case: Kodnani, Bajrangi Get Life Term

Naroda Patiya: Maya Kodnani gets 28 years, Babu Bajrangi jail till death

PTI | AhmedabadAug 31, 2012


A Special Court today awarded life imprisonment to BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 other convicts for the 2002 riots here at Naroda Patiya where 97 people were brutally killed.

The Court named Kodnani, a sitting MLA and former Gujarat Minister, as “a kingpin of riots” in Naroda area and sentenced her to 18-year life imprisonment after serving 10 years jail term under IPC Section 326 (voluntary causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means).

Bajrangi, another high profile accused, will have to spend his entire remaining life behind bars, it said and described communal violence as “cancer”.

Seven other convicts were given jail term of 21 years by Additional Principal Judge Jyotsna Yagnik. They will also have to first serve 10-year imprisonment under Section 326.

The remaining 22 convicts were given simple life imprisonment (14 years).

The Court had on Wednesday convicted 32 and acquitted 29 persons in the worst riots case in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage. It did not pronounce sentence against one accused who is absconding.

“Communal riots are like cancer on Constitutional secularism and the incident in Naroda Patiya was a black chapter in the history of the Indian Constitution,” the Judge observed.

“Acts of communal violence are brutal, inhuman and shameful. It (Naroda) was a clear incident of human rights violation as 97 people were killed brutally within a day which included helpless women, children, aged persons. The climax of this inhuman and brutal act of violence was reflected in murder of an infant, who was 20-day old,” the Court noted.

The Judge accepted that one victim, who was also a witness, was gang raped, but due to lack of evidence, the court has not charged anybody for that offence.

However, the court directed the Gujarat Government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim.

Rejecting the defence theory that the communal violence was a reaction to the Godhra carnage, the court said, “This was a pre-planned conspiracy and it cannot be mitigated just by saying it was a reaction of Godhra train burning incident. Nobody can be allowed to take law into their hands because India is a country that upholds rule of law.”

The Court’s inclination was against awarding death penalty in the case.

“Death penalty brings justice and it is desirable to reduce the crime in the society but this court cannot overlook the global trend prevalent in recent years. By 2009, 139 countries had repealed death sentence and there is a global campaign against death penally and progressive societies are advocating for restricting death penalty and this court believes use of death undermines human dignity.”

Regarding Kodnani, the court observed that she was the “kingpin of entire riots” that took place in Naroda Patiya area. She led the mob and incited them for violence. She abetted and supported the violent mob, it said.

Kodanai, who was MLA of Naroda at the time of riots, was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in 2007 in the Narendra Modi Government. She had to resign after she was arrested in the case in March 2009.

The three-time legislator, who was considered close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case. Kodnani, who was present in the court, broke down after she was sentenced.

The massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

On February 28, 2002, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had called a state-wide bandh to protest against the Godhra train carnage. On that a large crowd gathered in Naroda Patiya area in Ahmedabad and attacked people belonging to minority community, resulting in the death of 97 people and injury to 33 others.

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