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Modi tried to undermine court proceeding, top cop tells panel

Monday May 23, 2011 09:31:47 PM, IANS

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Ahmedabad: Gujarat's senior police officer Sanjeev Bhatt Monday told the Nanavati-Mehta Commission probing the 2002 riots cases that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had made attempts to undermine a court proceeding seeking relief for the riot victims.

Bhatt claimed that Modi tried to weaken the proceedings of a case filed by renowned danseuse Mallika Sarabhai and others before the Gujarat High Court seeking compensation for the victims and prosecution of the accused in the riots cases.

The senior Indian Police Service officer was with the state intelligence bureau during the 2002 communal riots that followed the Godhra train carnage.

Answering a question by B.M. Mangukia, who appeared for Islamic Relief Committee, Bhatt said the then minister of state for home, Amit Shah, had asked him not to divulge any details before the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

He said Shah had briefed him after he was summoned by the SIT and was told not to divulge the "truth".

Counsel questioned Bhatt in connection with his affidavit filed before the Supreme Court and sought the name of the government functionary who had briefed him.

Bhatt also filed an application seeking action against Chetan Shah, a lawyer who recently urged the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner to take action against him. It was rejected.

Mangukia, who questioned him on the presence of the then minister of state for home Gordhan Zadafia at the meetings held at the chief minister's residence, was told by Bhatt that while Jhadapia was present at some of the meetings, he was not there in the Feb 27- 28, 2002, meetings.

Bhatt also told the panel that when Congress leaders Amarsinh Chaudhari and Shankersinh Vaghela met Modi March 1, threatening to go on hunger strike to protest against the plight of Muslims, the chief minister told them that in the present atmosphere what is happening to the Muslims "can happen to you and me as well".

The chief minister, however, assured the two that police were taking action against the rioters.

Bhatt had last week claimed before the commission that he had informed Modi about the attack on Gulberg Society and threat to lives of people living there but the chief minister had not taken any action or issued any orders.

Bhatt had submitted that he was present at the emergency law and order meetings held at the chief minister's residence Feb 27 and 28, 2002.

The probe panel has allowed an NGO, Jan Sangharsh Manch, which is representing some of the 2002 riot victims, to cross examine Bhatt.

The NGO had moved an application through Mukul Sinha before the commission and sought to cross-examine Bhatt in connection with the role played by Modi during the riots. However, counsel for the state had opposed the application.

Bhatt, in an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court had alleged that Modi had instructed top state officials to allow rioting Hindus "to vent out their anger" during the communal clashes and wanted "Muslims to be taught a lesson".

However, the Supreme Court refused to take this affidavit on record in proceedings of a petition moved by Zakia Jaffery in connection with the Gulberg Society massacre case.

Further hearing is slated for Tuesday.





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