Gulberg Massacre: Tortuous Journey to Justice

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: June 1, 2016


Thus, if police had, in fact conducted a systematic and proper investigation within the house of Shri Jaffery immediately after, that is on day after the incident, based on the statements of witnesses, there was a reasonable possibility of finding all dead bodies in a reasonably good condition. But the police have intentionally not made any such attempt to search for the dead bodies of the people killed. Therefore it seems that they have not only committed the crime of ensuring through negligence an incomplete investigation, but worse, they have permitted the destruction of, or causedthe destruction of evidence with an intention to help the accused intentionally, and have committed such act by which benefit may cause to the accused.

Further details can be found here:

Annexure 7 to Tabular Presentation by Teesta Setalvad to SIT(May 29, 2008)

Points from former CP Ahmedabad, presently DGP Gujarat, PC Pande’s Deposition before the Nanavati Shah (now Nanavati Akshay Mehta) commission.
 
In a subsequent deposition to the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Joint CP(Ahmedabad) M.K Tandon(in charge of areas which oversaw the two worst massacres) told the Nanavati-Shah commission that he heard about the attack on Gulberg Society at 2pm on February 28th. However, records of Tandon’s official cell phone reveal that between 11.34 a.m. and 12.09 p.m., he was in the Meghaninagar area (where Gulberg Society is). From Meghaninagar, records show, he called up the DCP in charge of the area and the CP, PC Pandey. (According to police records, violence at Gulberg Society started at 10.30 a.m. and went on till 7 p.m.)
Further details can be found here: 


SIT and Survivors
Police officials from Gujarat deputed by the SIT to conduct further investigations, showed a marked hostility to eye–witnesses and cross-examined them as if they were defence counsel rather than an investigating team recording the statements of key eyewitnesses, statements that would be crucial in the subsequent prosecution. This attitude was objected to in writing by survivor eye-witnesses. Neither of the two senior officers (Raghavan and Satpathy) hand-picked by the apex court to head the SIT at the time was available to hear the complaints of witness survivors. This was also stated before the Supreme Court in 2009-2010 when the CJP tried to ensure a re-constitution of the SIT on these grounds. Witnesses were partially successful when IPS officers Geeta Johri and Shivanand Jha were precluded by the Court from being part of the investigation team thereafter (May 2010).
 
Two sets of 161 statements recorded (Gulberg case)
The First set of 161 statements recorded by SIT officials in May-June 2008 at its specially appointed premises in Gandhinagar. Four months later the investigating officer (IO), JM Suthar, appointed by Ashish Bhatia, summoned some of the witnesses to another location, the Special Operations Group (SOG) office in Juhapura. Complaints were made to higher echelons of SIT in this regard.
 
On an examination of the SIT charge sheet it has been found that the September 2008 date was used by SIT deputed IO to concoct 161 statements that entirely water down the first set of statements recorded by SIT. When the crucial eyewitnesses began deposing before the trial court from November 2, 2009 onwards, each one of them denied ever having recorded a second statement. A close scrutiny of the testimonies of witnesses in the Gulberg massacre case reveals that the investigation by the SIT (aimed to weaken its own prosecution case) has been torn to shreds. This too was pointed out to the Supreme Court in 2009-2010.

Public Prosecutor RK Shah’s resignation letter dated February 25, 2010 states this let down by SIT clearly:
“All the while Mr. Bhatia (Ashish Bhatia Member of SIT) insisted upon to see that the victim eye-witnesses should depose according to their statements before SIT. It may please be seen that the witnesses speak as per their first statement before SIT but they disown their further statements which I find to be damaging to the prosecution and at times wiping out their first statements. I fail to understand why such further statements were required to be recorded which no witness would admit particularly when they have engaged a private lawyer. “ This Letter was shown to Hon SC on 15.3.2010

2009

Application in the Supreme Court, praying for the reconstitution of the SIT (CJP) (April 17, 2009)

The petition stated that the Gujarat state affidavit, which made reference to certain portions of the SIT report which cast aspersions on Ms Teesta Setalvad and Advocate Mr. Tirmizi on the grounds of directing certain witnesses, should be expunged. Since the matter is reserved for orders, the petition observed that it attempted to take attention away from the main thrust of the matter of providing justice to victims of a violent carnage and also due to the fact that it appears that the quotation from the report is totally out of context with malafide intentions to diminish the efforts made by members of the civil society. Further, the petition said that an opportunity to respond to the maliciously selective leaks being flashed in the media of the SIT report could be one recourse by the court.