Nanavati-Mehta Commission Rejected Claims Made by IPS Officers

Sanjiv Bhatt had personal grievances against the government and higher officers claims two-member panel commission 

Published12 Dec 2019, 11:29 AM IST
4 min read

The Nanavati-Mehta Commission, while giving a clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers in the 2002 post-Godhra riots, rejected evidences and statements given by three former IPS officers and also made strong observations against them in a report tabled on Wednesday, 11 December.

The three senior ex-IPS officers -- Sanjiv Bhatt, R B Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma - had taken on the BJP government over the February-March 2002 riots, in which more than 1,000 people, most of them from a minority community, were killed. The widespread riots were triggered by the burning of two coaches of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station, in which 59 people, most of them 'karsevaks', were killed on 27 February 2002.

Bhatt, the then deputy commissioner of State Intelligence Bureau, had personal grievances against the government and higher officers, said the two-member panel headed by retired Supreme Court judge G T Nanavati.

Retired Gujarat High Court judge Akshay Mehta was the other member of the judicial commission. Sreekumar, the then additional DGP, made false allegations against the Gujarat government to malign it because he was a disgruntled officer, the commission said.

As for Sharma, the then deputy commissioner of police in control room of Ahmedabad, the panel observed he was not telling the truth, and his evidence in the form of CDs containing call details during the initial days of riots could not be accepted as reliable and correct.

Bhatt had claimed he was present in a meeting held at the CMs office on 27 February 2002, where he heard Modi directing the police and state administration to refrain from taking any strict action and permit members of the majority community to express anger against the minority community.

The commission said there was no reason to call Bhatt for the meeting as it was a meeting of top-level officers of the government. He was not a person holding such a high rank that he would have been told to attend the said meeting.

The claim made by him that he was present in the said meeting appears to be false. Obviously, his version about what was discussed and what was stated by chief minister or others in that meeting is a story made out by him and deserves to be discarded as false, the panel said in its report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on Wednesday, 11 December.

The commission also rejected as not a genuine document a fax message relied upon by Bhatt as purported to have been sent by him on 27 February 2002 to support his claim to having attended the meeting.

It observed that because of his personal grievances against the government and higher officers, he (Bhatt) has now come forward with a version of his own regarding the meeting of 27 February, to malign the chief minister and the government

Commission Rejected Sreekumars Affidavit

The commission rejected one of Sreekumars affidavits stating that many illegal instructions were given orally to officials by the chief minister.

The panel noted he (Sreekumar) is a disgruntled officer and instead of assisting the commission by placing correct facts before it, it appears that because of action taken against him by the government, he is prepared to make even false allegations against the Gujarat government to malign it.

Regarding the evidence produced by former IPS officer Rahul Sharma in the form of CDs containing call details showing involvement of ministers and officers of CMO with riot accused, the commission questioned their authenticity and said they cannot accepted as reliable and correct

CD Evidence Not Reliable: Commission

Sharma had said he was given the original CDs by P P Pande, the then joint commissioner of police (Ahmedabad) and an accused in the Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case, in which he was later discharged.

Sharma had said he prepared copies of the CDs containing call details from service providers AT&T and Cell Force, and returned the original to Pande, who later denied the claim. Sharmas evidence on this point is evasive and not consistent and leads to the conclusion that he is not telling the truth regarding possession of the original CDs and his claim that the copies of CDs produced by him contain the same and correct data as contained in original CDs, the panel said.

The data contained in the CDs produced before the commission cannot be accepted as reliable and correct, it said and also noted the state government's allegation that Sharma either de-shaped or reshaped the original data.

The report, tabled in the house by Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, concluded that the communal riots in the aftermath of the Godhra train burning were really by way of an aftermath of that incident.

The panel said, there is no evidence to show these attacks were either inspired or instigated or abeted by any minister of the state or by any religious or political party or organisations as such.

“The report blamed local members of VHP, Bajrang Dal for incidents of violence in their localities.The commission was appointed in 2002 by the then Modi government to probe the riots, that tookplace after the burning of two coaches of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station, in which 59 ‘karsevaks’ were killed.

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