2002 riots: Is it good cop vs bad cop in Gujarat?

The politician-police collusion in the backdrop of the 2002 is emerging as a badly kept secret in Narendra Modi’s state. Is a big cover up operation in progress in the state?

Akshaya Mishra August 12, 2011 17:28:43 IST
2002 riots: Is it good cop vs bad cop in Gujarat?

The country is nowhere close to unravelling the masterminds behind the Gujarat riots even after close to a decade. Over the years, it has only turned more mystifying with layers and layers of conspiracy surfacing in bits and spurts. If there’s indeed an effort to cover up the riot crimes and protect the high profile faces behind these by the state’s machinery, it has to be the biggest such clandestine operation, and the most efficient, in independent India.

A strong hint of collusion between the rioters, the police establishment and the political bosses during the riots has been in the air from the beginning. It has got stronger with the revelation of the dubious role of the politico-police combo in the encounter killings of Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan, alleged gangster Sohrabuddin and the witness to his extra-judicial murder, Tulsi Prajapati.

2002 riots Is it good cop vs bad cop in Gujarat

Not much has come out of the police officers' whistleblowing act. AFP Photo

The CBI has concluded Prajapati's killing was followed by a massive cover up operation. Gujarat’s minister of state for home Amit Shah, a close associate of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is facing charges of murder in the Sohrabuddin case. What these apparently disconnected developments bring to the fore is the close association between the police brass and politicians in Gujarat from the days of the riots.

The official burning of records pertaining to the riots – the government maintains it is routine procedure to destroy old documents – muddles the whole picture. Obviously, there’s something amiss. Powerful people are seriously at work to achieve something. The probe teams have not been able put their finger on it yet.

Senior policemen, who have been silent so far for unknown reasons, are coming out in the open to provide 'proof’ of the Modi government’s complicity in the riots. The state has been unusually harsh on them in retaliation.

Rahul Sharma, a 1992 batch IPS officer and DCP (Ahmedabad City Control) in 2002, has been served a notice and faces charges under the Official Secrets Act for giving call record details related to the riots to the Nanavati Commission without informing the government. The call records available with him purportedly show that rioters on the streets were in touch with policemen and politicians. The government maintains that some of these records are inaccurate and the CD submitted by Sharma to the commission is doctored.

The state has suspended Sanjeev Bhatt, a1988-batch IPS officer, for unauthorised absence. He had hogged the headlines after he told the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigative Team that he attended a meeting on 27 February 2002, chaired by Narendra Modi, where the Chief Minister ordered the police not to stop the rioters from attacking the Muslims. He also informed the court that the state government, instead of prosecuting the accused in the riots, has actually been leaking information to them to help them prepare their defence.

RB Sreekumar, 1971-batch officer, who was additional DGP (Intelligence) during 2002, had deposed before a state-appointed panel that the government had ordered the police to be partisan during the riots. He was denied promotion as DGP by the state as a consequence.

Rajnish Rai, whose probe in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh fake encounter case led to the arrest of IPS officers DG Vanjara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN, has been shunted to the insignificant Crime Records Bureau.

All of them are respectable officers, given their ranks. Some of them were in close proximity to the establishment during the riots and in the vantage position to know what exactly transpired among all the players involved. But not much has come out of their whistleblowing act. It’s possible their stand against the Gujarat government is motivated but they claim to have proof or access to proof to nail the real brains behind the riots. That they have been punished for their stand is additional proof that they pose a threat to powerful people in the establishment. Unfortunately the follow up action on their claims has been inadequate.

Is it a bad cop vs good cop drama playing out in Gujarat? Are the good cops being targetted by others in the department backed by the political establishment? Is it a massive cover up operation in progress in the state?

There are too many unanswered questions in Gujarat.

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