The Professional Fortunes Of Cops, Bureaucrats and SIT Members Associated With the 2002 Godhra Investigation

22 September 2017
In 2008, the Supreme Court of India appointed a special investigation team to look into three cases arising out of the riots in Gujarat in early 2002—the massacres at Gulburg society, Naroda Patiya, and Naroda Gam on 28 February that year, in which over 150 people were killed.
Manish Swarup/AP
In 2008, the Supreme Court of India appointed a special investigation team to look into three cases arising out of the riots in Gujarat in early 2002—the massacres at Gulburg society, Naroda Patiya, and Naroda Gam on 28 February that year, in which over 150 people were killed.
Manish Swarup/AP

On 18 September, the appointments committee of the prime ministerial cabinet—which comprises the prime minister and the home minister, and is tasked with filling top posts at government agencies—named the Indian Police Services officer YC Modi as the next director general of the National Investigation Agency. YC Modi previously served on a Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court. The SIT was charged with looking into three cases arising out of the riots in Gujarat in early 2002—the massacres at Gulburg Society, Naroda Patiya, and Naroda Gam on 28 February that year, in which over 150 people were killed. At the time the riots took place, the state was under the rule of the Bharatiya Janata Party, helmed by the chief minister, Narendra Modi.

The Supreme Court constituted the SIT in 2008, in a case arising out of a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Ehsan Jafri—a veteran Congress politician who was among at least 59 people killed in the Gulburg Society massacre. Jafri’s petition accused 63 persons, including Modi and other senior state government officials, of being complicit in the violence, and alleged that the state machinery had remained deliberately inactive. The first of 30 allegations levelled by Jafri, the SIT noted in a later report, was that Modi convened a meeting of senior police officers and bureaucrats in the evening on 27 February 2002, and directed them to allow the mobs to “give vent to the Hindu anger on the minority muslims.”

In a report he submitted to the Supreme Court in 2011, Raju Ramachandran, the amicus curiae for the investigation, described these allegations against Modi as “the most important.” Ramachandran submitted that a prima facie case could be made out against Modi, under the offences of promoting enmity between groups, assertions prejudicial to national integration, the disobeyance of the law by a public servant, and statements conducing to public mischief.

In 2012, the SIT submitted a closure report to the apex court, stating thatthe allegations against Modi “are not made out.” The report noted: “the allegation about the inaction on part of the State Govt. as well as police department is … not established.”

In the report, the SIT listed the names of nine people present at the meeting at the chief minister’s residence. In addition to Modi, these included: the state’s acting chief secretary Swarna Kanta Varma; the additional chief secretary for home affairs Ashok Narayan; the director general of police K Chakravarthi; the Ahmedabad police commissioner PC Pande; the home secretary K Nityanandam; the principle secretary to the chief minister PK Mishra; the secretary to the chief minister, Anil Mukim; and the additional secretary for law and order Prakash S Shah.

Arshu John is an assistant web editor at The Caravan. He was previously an advocate practicing criminal law in Delhi.

Keywords: Narendra Modi 2002 riots Supreme Court RB Sreekumar Gulburg Society Ehsan Jafri YC Modi 2002 Godhra riots Zakia Jafri SIT PC Pande
COMMENT