The struggle of man (or woman) against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. — Milan Kundera
It was not simply the number of lives lost, though the number — perhaps 2,500 — is not insignificant. It was the cold-blooded manner in which they were taken. It was not simply that 19 of Gujarat’s 25 districts burned while Neros watched, fiddled and smirked but the sinister similarity in the way they were set alight. Militias were armed with deadly training, weapons, technology and equipment; with a lethal brew of deadly intent, inspired by constructed tales of hate, using the February 28, 2002 edition of a leading Gujarati daily that urged revenge; all combined with a deadly white chemical powder that seared to burn and destroy already killed bodies. And, of course, truckloads of gas cylinders, in short supply for cooking, were used instead to blast mosques and homes. Mobile phones and motorcycles made communications easy and movement swift.
Part of the plan was to humiliate, destroy and then kill. Another was to economically cripple. But at heart the desire was to construct a reality whereby a whole ten per cent of the population lives (and a few even prosper) as carefully whipped into shape, second-class citizens. Most incidents that racked the state, except the famed Best Bakery incident, took place in the glare of the day, not the stealth of the night. Critical to the plan to mutilate and humiliate was to subject women and girls to the worst kind of sexual violence. Tehelka’s “Operation Kalank” records victorious testimonies of rapists and murderers who claim to have received personal approbations from the man at the helm. Over 1,200 highway hotels were destroyed, more than 23,000 homes gutted, 350 large businesses seriously damaged (and are still unable to recover) and 12,000 street businesses demolished.
Genocide is about economic crippling as much as death and humiliation. The Concerned Citizens Tribunal — Crimes Against Humanity 2002 called the happenings in Gujarat a genocide, because of the systematic singling out of a group through widely distributed hate writing and demonisation, the economic destruction, the sexual violence and also because over 270 masjids and dargahs were razed to the ground. The bandh calls on February 28 and March 1 by rabid outfits and supported by the party in power enabled mobs free access to the streets while successfully warding off the ordinary citizen.
Eight years on, it is this level and extent of complicity that is under high-level scrutiny. The involvement of high functionaries of the state in Gujarat did not begin, and has not stopped, with the violence. It has extended to destruction of evidence that continues until today, the faulty registration of criminal complaints, the deliberate exclusion of powerful accused and, worst of all, the utter and complete subversion of the criminal justice system by appointment of public prosecutors who were not wedded to fair play, justice and the Constitution — but were and are lapdogs of the ruling party and its raid affiliates. The proceedings in the Best Bakery case in the Supreme Court and the judgment of April 12, 2004 strips our legal system, especially lawyers, of the dignity of their office.
The hasty granting of bail to those involved in the post-Godhra carnage remains a scandal. While over seven dozen of those accused of the Godhra train arson have been in jail, without bail for eight years — and today face trial within the precincts of the Sabarmati jail — powerful men, patronised by the state’s political hierarchy who are accused of multiple rapes and murders roam free in “vibrant Gujarat” even as the trials have resumed. The few that are in jail — ten of the 64 accused in the Gulberg society carnage, eight of the 64 accused in Naroda Patia massacre, two of the 89 in the Naroda Gaam killing, eight of the 73 in the Sardroura massacres (all the 84 accused of the massacre at Deepda Darwaza roam free on bail) are those with no political godfathers. A vast majority have lived in freedom even after committing unspeakable crimes. All this and more is being investigated under the orders of our apex court on a petition filed by Zakia Ahsan Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. For the first time in our history criminal conspiracy and mass murder are the charges, the chief minister and 61 others the accused. Will the wealth of evidence be matched by the rigour of investigation? Will the will to prosecute surmount political considerations? Will the Indian system throw a spotlight on what surely must be its darkest hour? As we stood, remembered and prayed in painful memorial, with lit candles at the Gulbarg Society this Sunday we did so in both faith and hope.
The writer is the secretary of |Citizens for Justice and Peace
Below we append a press release from March 23, 2010:
Citizens for Justice and Peace
Release of Tehelka Tapes in the Public Domain
Selected Tapes of the Sting Operation where Interviewees who speak of the Direct and Indirect Role of Shri Narendra Modi in the 2002 massacre
Press Conference: Victim Survivors and CJP address the Press
Venue: PRASHANT, DRIVE IN ROAD
Time: 2 p.m.
Date Monday, March 22, 2010
The summons to chief minister Narendra Modi on charges of mass murder and criminal conspiracy is historic and unprecedented. There is enough prima facie evidence to lodge an FIR against the accused that includes the chief minister.
The present complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others is being investigated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) following an order of the Supreme Court of India in SLP 1088/2008 filed by Smt Zakia Ahsan Jafri and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) asking for registration of an FIR on charges of mass murder and criminal conspiracy. This complaint was dated June 8, 2006 and went uninvestigated and non-registered by the Gujarat police who was by the time it was sent, headed by Shri PC Pande former Commissioner of Police Ahmedabad, by then promoted to senior most police officer, Director General of Police , Gujarat.
While the matter was still in the Gujarat High Court a tremendous boost to the complainants was given by the exposure of the extrajudicial confessions of Tehelka’s Operation Kalank (October 25-27 2007) that, in many parts spoke of the direct role of chief minister Narendra Modi in directing and masterminding the massacre. These tapes have been authenticated by the CBI under direct orders of the National Human Rights Commission. Both the Gujarat High Court and the Supreme Court of India directed that they be used as evidence at the appropriate time. The detailed and extremely courageous exposure by Tehelka and its then correspondent Ashish Khetan also point to the involvement of several persons in the conspiracy to commit mass murder and economic destruction.
Today, Tehelka, a magazine devoted to the public interest has permitted the release of portions of these tapes in the public domain. Today we release those portions that expose (a) the arms and bombs distribution in different parts of Gujarat b efore the Godhra incident ie Februaru 27 2002 and b) the direct or indirect role of Shri Modi alleged by BJP and VHP/Bajran Dal cades on camera that amount to extra judicial confessions. We, at CJP representing the victim survivors of the Gujarat genocidal carnage of 2002 acknowledge the role of Tehelka , express our gratitude to Tehelka and put these out in the public domain in the public interest.
Tehelka’s Operation Kalank
I. Babu Bajrangi (Patel) Role in Massacre
Modi’s Role In Helping Bajrangi Abscond
Bajrangi also speaks of
How Police Machinery was made ineffective on Modi’s Instructions
Manipulation of the Judiciary
2. Arvind Pandya State Government Lawyer
“Modi Nahi Hota To Kuch Nahi Hota”
Modi’s Role in Subverting Entire Criminal Justice System
3. Accountant MS University DHIMANT BHAT
Speaks of Modi’s Direct Role & VHP Meteting on Night of February 27, 2002 planning the post Godhra Conspiracy
4. HARESH BHATT former MLA Godhra
Speaks of Three Days given by Modi to do as they will
5. RAJENDRA VYAS VHP Ahmedabad City President
In charge of Train (Sabramati Express) speaks of the behaviour on board the train
6. SURESH RICHARD CHARA from NARODA PATIA (AN ACCUSED)
Modi’s Visit to Patia on evening of Fenruary 28 2002 to garland murderers and rapists saying they have accomplished a wonderful job
8. DHAWAL PATEL VHP ZILLA SANJOYAK SABARKANTHA
Speaks of Arms Distribution prior to the Gpdhra Trian Burning Pointing
to A Conspiracy
9. ANIL PATEL Gujarat VHP Vibhag Pramukh
Arms Distribution prior to the Gpdhra Trian Burning Pointing to A Conspiracy
Apart from other tapes of the Gulberg Accused, a Trial that has been stayed by the apex court
Please do attend and give wide coverage to the conference.
TEHELKA TRANSCRIPTS MODI’S ROLE
What They Said About Modi
NARENDRA MODI’s anger was palpable after the Godhra incident; he vowed revenge. Haresh Bhatt, the then national co-coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, was part of the meeting in which Narendra Modi told them they could do whatever they wanted for the next three days. After that, Bhatt says, “He asked us to stop and everything came to a halt.”
RAJENDRA VYAS, the VHP’s Ahmedabad city president, was consoled by Modi, who said, “Rajendrabhai, calm yourself, everything will be taken care of.”
NOT ONLY DID THE MODI government allow the mob fury to continue unabated, it also tried to shelter the perpetrators from the law. Modi himself arranged for Babu Bajrangi, the prime accused in the Naroda Patiya case, to stay at Gujarat Bhavan in Mount Abu, and transferred two judges to help Bajrangi get bail
SINCE THE POLICE were in control all over Gujarat, Modi instructed them to side with the Hindus, thus giving the rioters a free hand for three days until pressure from higher quarters necessitated the calling in of the army
AFTER THE NARODA PATIYA carnage, the chief minister himself went to the site and acknowledged the efforts of the Chhara tribe, who were key participants in the massacre at Naroda Patiya
ARVIND PANDYA, government counsel, is convinced that Modi’s strong leadership made the post-Godhra carnage possible
SURESH RICHARD CHARA (accused in Naroda Patia Massacre)
Richard: [On the day of the massacre] we did whatever we did till quite late in the evening… at around 7.30… around 7.15, our Modibhai came… Right here, outside the house… My sisters garlanded him with roses…
TEHELKA: Narendrabhai Modi…
Richard: Narendra Modi… He came with black commandos… got down from his Ambassador car and walked up here…. All my sisters garlanded him… a big man is a big man after all…
TEHELKA: He came out on the road?
Richard: Here, near this house… Then he went this way… Looked at how things were in Naroda…
TEHELKA: The day the Patiya incident happened…
Richard: The same evening…
TEHELKA: February 28…
Richard: He went around to all the places… He said our tribe was blessed… He said our mothers were blessed [for bearing us]…
TEHELKA: He came at about 5 o’clock or at 7?
Richard: Around 7 or 7.30… At that time there was no electricity… Everything had been burnt to ashes in the riots…Richard:We’d finished burning everything and had returned… That was when the police called us… They said some Muslims were hiding in this sewer… When we went there, we saw their houses had been completely burned down but seven or eight of them had hidden in the gutter… We shut the lid on it… If we’d gone in after them, we might have been in danger… We closed the lid and weighted it down with big boulders… Later, they found eight or ten corpses in there… They’d gone there to save their lives, but… they died of the gases down there… This happened in the evening… the dhamal [killing spree] went till night, till about 8.30…
TEHELKA: So you went in again….
Richard:We were inside… By evening, things had cooled down… We were tired also… After all, a man gets tired out… Hurling stones, beating with pipes, stabbing, all this… The way we came out from inside could only be done by a man of strong heart…
• • •
Richard: Mayaben was moving around all day in an open jeep…
TEHELKA: On the day of the Patiya massacre…
Richard: [She was saying] Jai Shri Ram, Jai Shri Ram… wearing a saffron headband… She kept raising slogans… She said, carry on with your work, I’m here [to protect you]… She was wearing a white sari and had on a saffron band… I had also tied on a saffron band…
• • •
TEHELKA: It is being said the Chharas also committed rapes…
Richard: Now look, one thing is true… bhookhe ghuse to koi na koi to phal khayega, na [when thousands of hungry men go in, they will eat some fruit or the other, no]… Aise bhi, phal ko kuchal ke phek denge [in any case, the fruit are going to be crushed and thrown away]… Look, I’m not telling lies… Mata is before me [gesturing to an image of a deity]… Many Muslim girls were being killed and burnt to death anyway, some people must have helped themselves to the fruit…
TEHELKA: There must have been a couple of rapes…
Richard: Might even have been more… then there were the rest of our brothers, our Hindu brothers, VHP people and RSS people… Anyone could have helped themselves… who wouldn’t, when there’s fruit?… The more you harm them, the less it is… I really hate them… don’t want to spare them… Look, my wife is sitting here but let me say…the fruit was there so it had to be eaten… I also ate… I also ate… I ate once
TEHELKA: Just once?Richard: Just once… then I had to go killing again… [turns to relative Prakash Rathod and talks about the girl he had raped and killed]… That scrap-dealer’s girl, Naseemo… Naseemo that juicy plump one… I got on top…
TEHELKA: You got on top of her…
Richard: Yes, properly…
TEHELKA: She didn’t survive, did she
Richard: No, then I pulped her… Made her into a pickle…
• • •
What They Said About Modi
‘To Get Me Out On Bail, Narendrabhai Changed Judges Thrice’
Transcript (EXCERPT): BABU BAJRANGI
Modi has a definite soft spot for the man who would later stall the film Parzania. The regard is mutual
AUGUST 10, 2007
TEHELKA: The day Patiya happened, didn’t Modi support you?
Bajrangi: He made everything all right, otherwise who would have had the strength… It was his hand all the way… If he’d told the police to do differently, they would have f****d us…. they could have… they had full control…
TEHELKA: They had control?
Bajrangi: They were very much in control all over the city, all over Gujarat… [But] for two days, Narendrabhai was in control… from the third day… a lot of pressure came from the top… Sonia-wonia and all came here…
• • •
TEHELKA: Didn’t Narendrabhai come to meet you [in jail]?
Bajrangi: If Narendrabhai comes to meet me, he’ll be in deep trouble… I didn’t expect to see him… Even today, I don’t expect it…
TEHELKA: Did he ever talk to you over the phone?
Bajrangi: That way I do get to speak to him… but not just like that… The whole world starts singing…
TEHELKA: But when you were absconding, then he…..
Bajrangi: Hmm… I did speak to him twice or thrice…
TEHELKA: He’d encourage you…
Bajrangi: Marad aadmi hai [he’s a real man], Narendrabhai… If he were to tell me to tie a bomb to myself and jump… it wouldn’t take even a second… I could sling a bomb around me and jump wherever I was asked to… for Hindus…
TEHELKA: Had he not been there,then Naroda Patiya, Gulbarg etc…
Bajrangi:Wouldn’t have happened.Would’ve been very difficult.
• • •
SEPTEMBER 1, 2007
TEHELKA: Did Narendrabhai come to Patiya the day of the massacre?
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai came to Patiya… He could not make it to the place of the incidents because there were commando-phamandos with him… But he came to Patiya, saw our enthusiasm and went away… He left behind a really good atmosphere…
TEHELKA: Said you were all blessed…
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai had come to see that things didn’t stop the next day… He went all around Ahmedabad, to all the places where the miyas [Muslims] were, to the Hindu areas… told people they’d done well and should do more…
• • •Bajrangi: [After the massacre] the commissioner issued orders [against me]… I was told to leave my home… I ran away… Narendrabhai kept me at… the Gujarat Bhavan at Mount Abu for fourand- a-half months… After that, [I did] whatever Narendrabhai told me to… Nobody can do what Narendrabhai has done in – Gujarat… If I did not have the support of Narendrabhai, we would not have been able to avenge [Godhra]… [After it was over,] Narendrabhai was happy, the people were happy, we were happy… I went to jail and came back… and returned to the life I’d led before.
• • •
Bajrangi: Narendrabhai got me out of jail…… He kept on changing judges…. He set it up so as to ensure my release, otherwise I wouldn’t have been out yet… The first judge was one Dholakiaji… He said Babu Bajrangi should be hanged — not once, but four-five times, and he flung the file aside… Then came another who stopped just short of saying I should be hanged… Then there was a third one… By then, four-and-a-half months had elapsed in jail; then Narendrabhai sent me a message… saying he would find a way out… Next he posted a judge named Akshay Mehta… He never even looked at the file or anything…. He just said [bail was] granted… And we were all out… We were free….. For this, I believe in God… We are ready to die for Hindutva…
What They Said About Modi
‘His Rage Was Great’
Transcript: RAMESH DAVE
The fury Modi evinced at Godhra was understandable to a fellow Sangh die-hardThe fury Modi evinced at Godhra was understandable to a fellow Sangh die-hard
JUNE 12, 2007
Ramesh Dave:We went to the [VHP] office that night… the atmosphere was very disturbing… Everybody felt that [we had taken it] for so many years… Narendrabhai gave us great support…
TEHELKA: What was his reaction when he reached Godhra?
Dave: In Godhra, he gave a very strong statement… He was in a rage… He’s been with the Sangh from childhood… His anger was such… he didn’t come out into the open then but the police machinery was turned totally ineffective…
What They Said About Modi
‘He Has Done What No CM Ever Has’
Transcript: HARESH BHATT
A Bajrang Dal leader in 2002, Bhatt cannot fathom the opposition to his icon
JUNE 1, 2007
TEHELKA: What was Narendra Modi’s reaction when the Godhra incident happened?
Haresh Bhatt: I can’t tell you this… but I can say it was favourable… because of the understanding we shared at that time…
TEHELKA: Tell me something… Did he…
Bhatt: I can’t give a statement… But what he did, no chief minister has ever done …
TEHELKA: I won’t quote it anywhere…For that matter… I am not even going to quote you
Bhatt: He had given us three days… to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that… He said this openly…After three days, he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt…
TEHELKA: It stopped after three days… Even the army was called in.
Bhatt: All the forces came… We had three days… and did what we had to in those three days…
TEHELKA: Did he say that?
Bhatt: Yes… That is why I am saying he did what no chief minister can do…
TEHELKA: Did he speak to you?
Bhatt: I told you that we were at the meeting.
and the upper castes too have come out now in support of the Parivar…
What They Said About Modi
‘Were Modi Not A Minister, He Would Have Burst Bombs’
Transcript: ARVIND PANDYA
The Gujarat CM is the Hindu samaj’s new saviour, says the government counsel in the Nanavati-Shah Commission
JUNE 6, 2007
Arvind Pandya: [The Muslims of Godhra] thought they could get away with it because the Gujarati is mild by nature. In the past, they had beaten the Gujarati, they have even beaten the entire world, and nobody has shown any courage… Nobody had ever resisted them… They thought they’d get away with it just like they always do, but they used to get away with it because there was Congress rule here earlier… To get their votes, the Congress would suppress Gujaratis and Hindus… But this time, they were thrashed… It is Hindu rule now… All of Gujarat is ruled by Hindus, and that too from the VHP and the BJP…
JUNE 8, 2007
TEHELKA: Sir, is it true that when Modi went to Godhra on February 27, that VHP workers attacked him?
Pandya: No, they didn’t. It’s like this… There are 58 bodies… and it’s evening… people are bound to say,
what have you done…
TEHELKA: From 8 in the morning till evening, he didn’t land up… So, when things got heated, then Modi ji got angry and he…
Pandya: No it’s not like that… Modi’s been on our line for a long time… Forget that matter… But he’s occupying a post, so naturally there are more limitations… and he has quite a few… It is he who gave all signals in favour of the Hindus… If the ruler is hard, then things can start happening…
TEHELKA: Did you meet… Narendra Modi after he returned from Godhra on the 27th?
Pandya: No, I will not answer queries on this… I shouldn’t…
TEHELKA: Sir, I want to know what was his first reaction?
Pandya: When Narendra Modi first heard it over the phone, his blood was boiling… Tell me, what else do I say… I’ve given you some hints and I can’t reveal more than that… nor should I say it…
TEHELKA: I wanted to know this… what his first reaction was…
Pandya: No, his reaction was like this: if he were not a minister, he would have burst bombs… If he had the capacity and was not a minister he would have detonated a few bombs in Juhapura [a Muslimdominated locality in Ahmedabad].
TEHELKA TRANSCRIPTS (EXCERPTS)
MEETINGS HELD TO PLAN MASSACRE
Conspirators & Rioters
‘The Idea Came From Modi Himself’
Transcript: DHIMANT BHATT
The chief auditor of MS University, Bhatt reveals the minute planning and mobilisation that went into the attacks
MAY 19, 2007
Dhimant Bhatt: I have two charges… I am chief auditor for the entire university [MSU] as well as chief accounts officer… this is a financial matter… everybody needs funds… this is why it is hectic… I am a staunch Hindu… suppose somebody from the Sangh says we have to promote Hindu fundamentalism, I will be the first to volunteer… I will go and say, brothers, put the Sangh’s lathis aside and pick up AK-56s … pick up AK-56s because if you have to develop Hinduism, it is clear who the enemies are… There are two who are against Hinduism… Muslims, who are open… but the Christians… they are like a bacterial virus … and there’s a third, the Communists, who are developing now… red waale… If you have to fight them, you need power and that power will not come from the lathi… only the bullet will do… we go to RSS shakhas … pick up the lathi and use it… All that is fine but now they should be replaced with AKs and a Hindu
brigade should be formed…
• • •
Bhatt: After Godhra, there was this reaction and a certain climate was created in the Parivar by the top leaders, meaning the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the BJP and the Durga Vahini… and in that we had Narendra Modi’s support… Let people say what they like, [we had] support in the sense that if Hindus are going to be burnt like this… if conspiracies are going to be hatched to burn Hindus… they wanted to burn the whole train [the Sabarmati Express]… and now if we don’t do anything, if we don’t generate an adequate reaction, another train will be set on fire…. This was the idea, the thought that came from him [Modi]… I was
present in the meeting…
TEHELKA: Where, sir…