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Modi govt tried to coach witnesses: Tehelka

March 03, 2005 19:28 IST

In its latest issue Tehelka reveals how Gujarat Home Secretary G C Murmu has been tutoring witnesses appearing before the Nanavati-Shah Commission probing the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The weekly newspaper reports that action is being taken against witnesses who refuse to toe the government line.

The Tehelka report describes how, on August 25, 2004, Home Secretary Murmu and Government Pleader Arvind Pandya summoned Additional Director General of Police R B Sreekumar to tutor him on his deposition before the Nanavati Commission on August 31, 2004.

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Sreekumar, in his capacity as additional director general of police (intelligence), had filed a damning affidavit before the Commission on April 24, 2002, exposing the state government's failures and detailing subsequent efforts by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal leaders to subvert justice.

Murmu and Pandya, Tehelka reports, led Sreekumar through the line of questioning he should expect and the answers he should give.

Sreekumar secretly recorded the meeting and made the recording available to Tehelka.

In Sreekumar's case Murmu and Pandya went through every aspect of his likely testimony while telling him what the Indian Police Service officer should and should not say.

Pandya pointed out that if he did what he was told, then 'on that day, the value of the 24th report would immediately come down to zero.'

Murmu specifically brought up the April 24, 2002 report and said, 'your duty is not to go too deep into the veracity, that is, whether there was government failure etc (in controlling the riots). You are for processing the information, disseminating the same and thereby bringing to the notice of relevant persons.'

Tehelka reports that Pandya then went on to claim that 'whatever brief we are giving you, we are telling every witness.'

When Sreekumar refused to toe the line and stuck to his guns before the Commission, the Gujarat government issued him a letter on September 28, 2004, claiming that his promotion to the AGDP post was wrong.

On February 23, 2005, the Gujarat government issued an order promoting three of four Additional DGPs to the rank of DGP. Among those promoted was P C Pande, police commissioner in Ahmedabad during the 2002 riots.

Sreekumar's junior, K R Kaushik, currently Ahmedabad's police commissioner, was also promoted to the rank of DGP while continuing in the same post, which was upgraded to the DGP rank. Sreekumar remains a ADGP.

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi