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Destroyed records resurface

01 May 2012

Excerpt from CJP’s letter to SIT investigating officer AK Malhotra, April 20, 2011



“Now, after nearly two years of the SIT saying that these records, as per the government of Gujarat’s version, are destroyed, you mentioned when I (Teesta Setalvad) brought this to your attention to be recorded in my 161 statement, that then commissioner of police PC Pande has, after the hon’ble court directed the SIT to go into the report filed by the amicus curiae, thereafter produced the entire documentary record that he had scanned and kept aside before they were ‘destroyed’! You also mentioned that there was 3,500 pages of such evidence which the SIT is now, after nearly two years of the inquiry, examining.

We wish to express, as co-petitioners and co-complainants, our distress and consternation at what we believe is a belated attempt by Shri Pande to save his skin or those of his political bosses, as all this while – including in the report submitted by yourself and Shri Raghavan to the hon’ble Supreme Court – you have maintained that these records have been destroyed. Shri Pande has, we have been given to understand, twice before been examined by the SIT in the Zakiya matter, between May 2009 and May 2010. Surely in the 12-month period he ought to have produced this record that he had so carefully scanned and preserved?

It may be assumed that if the inquiry had not reached this stage i.e. if the hon’ble Supreme Court had not impelled or compelled the SIT to go further, Shri Pande’s sudden and generous manoeuvre would have never happened, that is, the “destroyed” records would have remained buried!

Sir, We were particularly disturbed by your interpretation of the actions of Shri Pande, which seemed to be interpreted as his astute generosity (Shri Pande’s) in actually scanning and producing these records at this belated stage. The following questions arise that we wish to place specifically before you:
  1. The timing of the “destroyed” records “reappearing” in the action of Shri PC Pande suddenly handing over the scanned CD of all destroyed documents to you post-March 15, 2011 i.e. the last directions of the hon’ble Supreme Court.
  2. Since Shri Pande’s role of collusion in the conspiracy has been specifically alleged, we at least cannot see this either as a stray or innocent act and would therefore urge that a hard, objective inquiry into the previous evasion and suppression of evidence, and thereafter the sudden disclosure, takes place and offences against Shri PC Pande are also registered for the earlier suppression and subsequent disclosure.
  3. When a senior officer like Shri Pande states that records are destroyed, in the preliminary inquiry, and thereafter turns up with the vanished documents, what are we to make of this? Similarly, we believe that videos will turn up.
  4. Shri Pande’s role in the overall conspiracy and his subsequently being rewarded for his silence and suppression make him liable to be inquired into. His personal assets and accounts and those of his family members as also the assets and accounts of other IPS and IAS officials who have been favoured by the government of Gujarat need to be part of the inquiry.
  5. We thought it imperative that this matter be placed on record…

I would like to end by stating that the fresh revelations by Shri Pande amount to an effort by a highly placed officer of not merely attempting a cover-up of his suppression of crucial records for nine-plus years but subverting the inquiries into various cases by not making available these records in the individual trials and thereby committing grave contempt of the judicial process. We would like to state that though partial records in the Gulberg cases (police control room and fire brigade, etc) were made available, this happened only after applications under 173(8) were filed by witnesses and did not logically form part of the charge sheet as they should have done from the very beginning. Why were Shri Pande and other senior officials suppressing these records? Allegations of high-level involvement and complicity have been made by victim survivors since immediately after the incidents. Was this suppression related to protection of the mighty and powerful?”

The SIT in 2010

“The Gujarat government has reportedly destroyed the police wireless communication of the period pertaining to the riots… No records, documentations or minutes of the crucial law and order meetings held by the government during the riots had been kept” (p. 13 of the Preliminary Inquiry Report).

The SIT makes this observation but recommends no action for this criminal act.
 
Missing Records

Following a perusal of the documents given to the complainant Zakiya Ahsan Jaffri, she, assisted by CJP, has pointed out that the following documents are missing from the record. Since the SIT is contesting her right to have these documents, a full-fledged hearing on the question will take place before the magistrate on May 19, 2012.

Documents that are missing from the record presented to the magistrate’s court and given to the complainant are:
  1. Preliminary Inquiry Report by AK Malhotra of the SIT, dated May 12, 2010, submitted to the Supreme Court of India.
  2. Analysis/Comments by the chairman of the SIT, dated May 14, 2010, presented to the Supreme Court.
  3. Reports of further investigation under Section 173(8) of the CrPC conducted by the SIT.
  4. Further Investigation Reports by the SIT filed periodically in the Supreme Court of India along with accompanying documents.
  5. Any other reports of the SIT concerning this complaint dated June 8, 2006 that have been submitted to the Supreme Court.
  6. Note of the then additional chief secretary (home), Ashok Narayan, on the Godhra incident prepared, according to the SIT, on the basis of information provided by the then director general of police, K. Chakravarti, and then submitted to the chief minister for his approval (before the assembly).
  7. Statement on the Godhra incident read out in the assembly by the then minister of state for home, Gordhan Zadaphiya, according to the SIT, and prepared by the home department based on information available at that time.
  8. Circulars on police force deployment on February 27 and February 28, 2002, signed by the home minister and obtained from the general administration/home department.
  9. Statements of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials regarding the Godhra incident and its fallout, recorded by the SIT.
  10. Statement of Vipul Vijay, IPS, Gujarat.
  11. Details and analysis of the Police Exchange phone numbers that record details of internal calls made by police officers to each other.
  12. Fire brigade registers from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Anand, Kheda, Ahmedabad rural, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Dahod, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Bharuch, Ankleshwar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot – the 14 worst affected districts as outlined in the complaint dated June 8, 2006.
  13. Gujarat home ministry notings transferring/promoting/sidelining police officers as mentioned in the complaint.
  14. Gujarat law ministry notings on the appointment of special public prosecutors with ideological leanings as detailed in the complaint.
  15. Affidavits of the mamlatdar[executive magistrate], Godhra, ML Nalvaya, filed before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, dated June 3, 2002 and September 5, 2009.
  16. Transcripts and CDs of all national television coverage of the violence of 2002, beginning with the Godhra incident, available on the records of the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
  17. Documents and telephone records, analysis and CDs provided by IPS officer Rahul Sharma to the SIT in the course of this inquiry and investigation.

In addition, the SIT has been directed to make those documents that are illegible available for inspection by the complainant and CJP on May 19, 2012.

 
Archived from Communalism Combat, April-May 2012. Year 18, No.165 - Introduction, Gujarat 2002

Destroyed records resurface


Excerpt from CJP’s letter to SIT investigating officer AK Malhotra, April 20, 2011



“Now, after nearly two years of the SIT saying that these records, as per the government of Gujarat’s version, are destroyed, you mentioned when I (Teesta Setalvad) brought this to your attention to be recorded in my 161 statement, that then commissioner of police PC Pande has, after the hon’ble court directed the SIT to go into the report filed by the amicus curiae, thereafter produced the entire documentary record that he had scanned and kept aside before they were ‘destroyed’! You also mentioned that there was 3,500 pages of such evidence which the SIT is now, after nearly two years of the inquiry, examining.

We wish to express, as co-petitioners and co-complainants, our distress and consternation at what we believe is a belated attempt by Shri Pande to save his skin or those of his political bosses, as all this while – including in the report submitted by yourself and Shri Raghavan to the hon’ble Supreme Court – you have maintained that these records have been destroyed. Shri Pande has, we have been given to understand, twice before been examined by the SIT in the Zakiya matter, between May 2009 and May 2010. Surely in the 12-month period he ought to have produced this record that he had so carefully scanned and preserved?

It may be assumed that if the inquiry had not reached this stage i.e. if the hon’ble Supreme Court had not impelled or compelled the SIT to go further, Shri Pande’s sudden and generous manoeuvre would have never happened, that is, the “destroyed” records would have remained buried!

Sir, We were particularly disturbed by your interpretation of the actions of Shri Pande, which seemed to be interpreted as his astute generosity (Shri Pande’s) in actually scanning and producing these records at this belated stage. The following questions arise that we wish to place specifically before you:
  1. The timing of the “destroyed” records “reappearing” in the action of Shri PC Pande suddenly handing over the scanned CD of all destroyed documents to you post-March 15, 2011 i.e. the last directions of the hon’ble Supreme Court.
  2. Since Shri Pande’s role of collusion in the conspiracy has been specifically alleged, we at least cannot see this either as a stray or innocent act and would therefore urge that a hard, objective inquiry into the previous evasion and suppression of evidence, and thereafter the sudden disclosure, takes place and offences against Shri PC Pande are also registered for the earlier suppression and subsequent disclosure.
  3. When a senior officer like Shri Pande states that records are destroyed, in the preliminary inquiry, and thereafter turns up with the vanished documents, what are we to make of this? Similarly, we believe that videos will turn up.
  4. Shri Pande’s role in the overall conspiracy and his subsequently being rewarded for his silence and suppression make him liable to be inquired into. His personal assets and accounts and those of his family members as also the assets and accounts of other IPS and IAS officials who have been favoured by the government of Gujarat need to be part of the inquiry.
  5. We thought it imperative that this matter be placed on record…

I would like to end by stating that the fresh revelations by Shri Pande amount to an effort by a highly placed officer of not merely attempting a cover-up of his suppression of crucial records for nine-plus years but subverting the inquiries into various cases by not making available these records in the individual trials and thereby committing grave contempt of the judicial process. We would like to state that though partial records in the Gulberg cases (police control room and fire brigade, etc) were made available, this happened only after applications under 173(8) were filed by witnesses and did not logically form part of the charge sheet as they should have done from the very beginning. Why were Shri Pande and other senior officials suppressing these records? Allegations of high-level involvement and complicity have been made by victim survivors since immediately after the incidents. Was this suppression related to protection of the mighty and powerful?”

The SIT in 2010

“The Gujarat government has reportedly destroyed the police wireless communication of the period pertaining to the riots… No records, documentations or minutes of the crucial law and order meetings held by the government during the riots had been kept” (p. 13 of the Preliminary Inquiry Report).

The SIT makes this observation but recommends no action for this criminal act.
 
Missing Records

Following a perusal of the documents given to the complainant Zakiya Ahsan Jaffri, she, assisted by CJP, has pointed out that the following documents are missing from the record. Since the SIT is contesting her right to have these documents, a full-fledged hearing on the question will take place before the magistrate on May 19, 2012.

Documents that are missing from the record presented to the magistrate’s court and given to the complainant are:
  1. Preliminary Inquiry Report by AK Malhotra of the SIT, dated May 12, 2010, submitted to the Supreme Court of India.
  2. Analysis/Comments by the chairman of the SIT, dated May 14, 2010, presented to the Supreme Court.
  3. Reports of further investigation under Section 173(8) of the CrPC conducted by the SIT.
  4. Further Investigation Reports by the SIT filed periodically in the Supreme Court of India along with accompanying documents.
  5. Any other reports of the SIT concerning this complaint dated June 8, 2006 that have been submitted to the Supreme Court.
  6. Note of the then additional chief secretary (home), Ashok Narayan, on the Godhra incident prepared, according to the SIT, on the basis of information provided by the then director general of police, K. Chakravarti, and then submitted to the chief minister for his approval (before the assembly).
  7. Statement on the Godhra incident read out in the assembly by the then minister of state for home, Gordhan Zadaphiya, according to the SIT, and prepared by the home department based on information available at that time.
  8. Circulars on police force deployment on February 27 and February 28, 2002, signed by the home minister and obtained from the general administration/home department.
  9. Statements of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials regarding the Godhra incident and its fallout, recorded by the SIT.
  10. Statement of Vipul Vijay, IPS, Gujarat.
  11. Details and analysis of the Police Exchange phone numbers that record details of internal calls made by police officers to each other.
  12. Fire brigade registers from Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Anand, Kheda, Ahmedabad rural, Vadodara, Panchmahal, Dahod, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Bharuch, Ankleshwar, Bhavnagar, Rajkot – the 14 worst affected districts as outlined in the complaint dated June 8, 2006.
  13. Gujarat home ministry notings transferring/promoting/sidelining police officers as mentioned in the complaint.
  14. Gujarat law ministry notings on the appointment of special public prosecutors with ideological leanings as detailed in the complaint.
  15. Affidavits of the mamlatdar[executive magistrate], Godhra, ML Nalvaya, filed before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, dated June 3, 2002 and September 5, 2009.
  16. Transcripts and CDs of all national television coverage of the violence of 2002, beginning with the Godhra incident, available on the records of the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
  17. Documents and telephone records, analysis and CDs provided by IPS officer Rahul Sharma to the SIT in the course of this inquiry and investigation.

In addition, the SIT has been directed to make those documents that are illegible available for inspection by the complainant and CJP on May 19, 2012.

 
Archived from Communalism Combat, April-May 2012. Year 18, No.165 - Introduction, Gujarat 2002

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