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Did Narendra Modi play a role in worsening Gujarat riots?

Last updated on: January 13, 2012 20:18 IST

Did Narendra Modi play a role in worsening Gujarat riots?

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Former Gujarat minister of state for home Gordhan Zadafia on Friday told the Nanavati Commission that the decision to bring back bodies of the victims of the 2002 Godhra train burning incident to the city "could have" been taken by Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Bringing dead bodies back to the city is believed to have worsened the violence that followed.

Zadafia was on Friday cross-examined for nearly three hours by the riots-probe panel, where he also revealed that he never instructed former minister I K Jadeja to go to the director general of police's office on February 28, 2002, contrary to the latter's stand.

The former MoS home, who is no longer with the Bharatiya Janata Party, also refuted the allegations of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt that he was lying about not having knowledge of the emerging tense situation at various places in the city on February 28.

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Image: Gordhan Zadafia


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"The decision to bring back bodies could have been taken by the two senior ministers who were there in Godhra -- Ashok Bhatt and the CM (Modi)," Zadafia said, in an answer to a question by Mukul Sinha of the NGO Jansangharsh Manch.

During his earlier deposition before the commission on November 19, 2010 Zadafia had said this decision was taken by two senior ministers, but had not named anyone.

In the deposition in December last year, Zadafia said that the bodies were brought to Ahmedabad as most of the victim-karsevaks were from the city or nearby areas.

But today Zadafia said the decision to bring back charred bodies to Ahmedabad was taken prior to their identification. He also said he came to know about this decision only in the morning of February 28, 2002.

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Image: Gujarat CM Narendra Modi


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When asked if he had instructed the (then) minister for urban development I K Jadeja to go to the DGP office in Gandhinangar, Zadafia said, "I did not tell Jadeja to go to the DGP office or anywhere."

Jadeja, during his cross examination in December before the Nanavati Commission, had said he was present in the DGP office on February 28 on the instruction of Zadafia. Jadeja is accused of interfering in police work when violence was unfolding across Gujarat.

On Bhatt's allegation that Zadafia was incorrect in stating that he was not aware of riots in Naroda area and Gulburg society, Zadafia today said he was not aware of Bhatt's letter to the commission, nor had he received any messages on this during the riots.

Bhatt, who was the deputy commissioner of police with the State Intelligence Bureau during the 2002 riots, has claimed in his letter to the commission that both Modi and Zadafia had been informed of the likely repercussions of bringing the dead bodies back, as well as of the violence at Gulberg Society and other places.

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Image: Sanjiv Bhatt


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When asked why the state government failed in preventing the Godhra killings, Zadafia said, "We did not have any prior information that such an incident could happen."

He said he had given necessary directions to the police about taking preventive action after the Godhra incident, but dodged a question as to why the state government failed to prevent the riots, stating that he could not speak for the whole government.

On his statement of November 2010, where he had denied that the Modi government ever asked the administration and police not to act against rioters for 24 hours after the Godhra incident, Zadafia today said he had said so because he was not aware of any such instructions (from Modi or others).

In 2002 he was MoS Home, but did not have independent charge of internal security, which was with Modi himself. The police did not report to him (Zadafia) on internal security directly, he said.

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Image: A file photograph of the Sabarmati Express that was set on fire in Godhra


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On February 27, 2002, Zadafia said, Modi directed him to go to Godhra. When asked if Modi had told him about the late evening meeting at CM's residence, Zadafia said that he came to know about it only later. He did not remember if he had attended other meetings called by the CM on February 28, 2002, Zadafia said.

Further, he did not remember if the BJP had supported the Gujarat bandh call of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, he said.

Zadafia admitted that he might have talked to some of the persons, now accused in the Naroda Patiya or Naroda Gam riot cases, immediately after the Godhra incident, but said he did not remember the nature of conversations as nearly 10 years had passed.

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Image: A file photo of the Godhra carnage site


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