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Gujarat riots: Probe ordered into police interference in Nanavati inquiry

Binita Parikh in Ahmedabad | June 19, 2003 23:26 IST

The Gujarat government has ordered an inquiry into allegations that the police is tutoring and intimidating people appearing before the two-member Nanavati Commission of Inquiry probing the post-Godhra riots.

The riots panel, comprising Justice G T Nanavati and Justice K G Shah, has been holding a hearing in Vadodara since Tuesday.

Almost all the witnesses told the panel that the police had played a satisfactory role in controlling the riots.

But newspaper reports alleged that the police had handpicked those who deposed before the inquiry panel.

Policemen reportedly called up the victims and 'explained' how to depose before the commission.

Other reports spoke of the police reminding victims of their efforts to help them.

"We felt that the police help was too little and too late," a local Muslim leader told rediff.com on condition of anonymity. "But what is the use of deposing before the commission and angering the police? We have lost faith in the commission itself. Justice Nanavati has already announced that he did not see a police hand in the riots. He said this even before completing the hearing. This has disheartened us."

Many of the NGOs who had helped the victims have also decided not to depose before the commission.

Gujarat Home Secretary Raj Kumar will inquire into the allegations of interference and submit his report within 15 days.

The presence of police and other government officials at the sittings of the commission in Vadodara is another matter of concern. It was reported that former Vadodara police commissioner D D Tuteja, District Collector Bhagyesh Jha, then joint commissioner of police P C Thakur (who now holds the same post in Ahmedabad), the deputy superintendent of police (Vadodara), and a few inspectors were among those present at the proceedings.

This has raised the question of how any riot victim can make serious accusations against policemen.

Raj Kumar said the commission controls all activities within the premises where it holds its hearings and the government has no role to play in the matter. "The commission is working in an independent manner as per the provisions of the law," he said in a press release on Wednesday. "This question [the presence of policemen at the hearing] does not fall within the purview of my inquiry," he told rediff.com

In all 196 witnesses from Vadodara and the surrounding rural areas deposed before the commission from Tuesday through Thursday.

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