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Home > News > Report

Top cop refuses to name guilty Gujarat politicians

Sheela Bhatt in Ahmedabad | August 31, 2004 22:04 IST

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was spared a major political crisis on Tuesday whenR B Sreekumar, additional director general of police (reforms), refused to name before the Justice G T Nanavati Commission those politicians who had interfered with the working of the police during the 2002 riots that killed more than 1,000 people.

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But the government was not able to escape embarrassment entirely because Sreekumar stood by his sensational affidavit that exposes the ruling partyon many counts, particularly its communal stance.

Sreekumar admitted to the commission that some politicians were interfering in police work, as a result ofwhich officers were feeling "depressed and helpless." This is the first time a serving police officer has said such things on record.

The two-member commission is inquiring into the communal disturbances after the carnage at Godhra. The other member is Justice K G Shah.

Despite repeated questioning by Mukul Sinha, a lawyer representing the Jan Sangharsh Samiti, a citizens' organisation, Sreekumar refused to name the politicians.

Sreekumar was reminded that the commission is also looking into the conduct ofpoliticians, including the chief minister, and that they are all open to scrutiny. He was advised that he could give the names without divulging his sources.

But the officer stuck to his line. "If I disclose the names of the politicians," he said,"it will damage my sources, so I am not inclined to disclose them."

Sreekumar said his officers had told him these details confidentially, and he could not betray their trust.

Sreekumar had filed his extraordinary affidavit before the commission on July 6, 2002. He had been made additional director general of police (intelligence) soon after the Godhra incident, on April 9, 2002.

His statement is seen as an indictment ofthe Modi government for failing in its duty to maintain law and order.

He has given a detailed account of how the government ignored intelligence reports about the return of kar sevaks from Ayodhyaand the likely attack on religious places. Everything from the faulty recording of FIRs to the extortion activities of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has been covered in his affidavit. He has also denied the existence of intelligence reports about a conspiracy by Muslim fundamentalists.

Though the violence had subsided by the timeSreekumar took over as state intelligence chief, he had access to past records, on the basis of which he filed his explosive affidavit when the commission was appointed.

From the beginning of the hearing today, Sreekumar was subdued. He quoted the Rigveda and Kautilya, discussed the finer points of the techniques of intelligence gathering, but refused to divulge the names of the politicians who allowed anarchy to grip the state.

Kanika Kaul, a human rights activist who has been attending the hearingsregularly, said, "Sreekumar's affidavit was very strong, the boldest of all. Today though he was not looking hostile, he didn't lookrelaxed."

Darshan Desai, a senior journalist who has reported on most of the hearings, said the statements made by serving police officers, whenconsidered together, are nothing short of an indictment of the ruling party.

The Modi government, however,is embarrassed only because of the media attention the commission isgetting.In Ahmedabad, the general public appears disinterested in its proceedings and the unfolding story of the riots. Though the commission's hearingsare open to all, hardly anyone but journalists and lawyers are found in attendance.

Thus, for the governmentit is just a media event. Sreekumar's appearance definitely needed all the attention because no other police officer has dared come out so boldly and put everything in cold print.

Media reports about Sreekumar's submission had raised expectations.He stood by his affidavit, which gives aninside account but does not offer much by way of hard evidence. He did say,though,that when he was posted in the state intelligence department he had prepared a report about the communal scenario in Ahmedabad because of which Police Commissioner P C Pande was removed.

"I would still say he was remarkable today," Sinhalater told "He stood by his affidavit. His affidavit says volumes against the government. What more can he say? I agree he could have named the politicians, but it's a good indication that there were such politicians who interfered."

On a lighter note he remarked, "Poor chap got too exposed in the media before he could depose before the commission."

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: why bring the same cat every time ?

"atrocities" on kashmiri pandits is no excuse for gujarat riots. besides, it did not have the complicity of the state administration (ministers, police etc). besides, ...

Posted by pankaj

Sub: Riots in Gujarat-Role of pseudo-secularist human rights activists

someone should tell these so called human rights activists like kanika kaul to report on the human rights violations that were committed against kashmiri pandits ...

Posted by a.k.



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