Dial M for Massacre

Three months ago, our covert story, SIT-ting on the Truth (March 2010) exosed the frivolous and shallow investigations of the Gujarat massacres undertaken by the high-profile Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court and headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan. One of the major issues raised was the deliberate refusal of SIT – influenced as it was by the three officers of the Gujarat police cadre, Shivanand Jha, Geeta Johri and Ashish Bhatia – to examine available documentary evidence to pin responsibility for complicity and gross dereliction of duty by top police officers, civil servants and politicians.

Shockingly, the documents that SIT deliberately overlooked are police control room records, station diary entries, fire brigade registers and, most of all, mobile phone call records of powerful and influential persons: calls received and made between top politicians, civil servants, police officers and the prime accused.

The gross failure, deliberate or otherwise, on the part of SIT to do its duty as assigned by the apex court forced us to undertake our own several months long close scrutiny of all these records. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) submitted these findings before the Gujarat government-appointed Nanavati-Shah-Mehta Commission of Inquiry on May 14, 2010. CJP will also soon be filing its findings before the Supreme Court. Needless to say, they have a direct bearing on the critical hearing on SIT’s investigation report pending before the apex court. It may be recalled that SIT (already appointed to investigate nine major investigation into critical carnage cases in 2008) was also appointed by the Supreme Court following a petition of Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP asking for court directions for the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others on charges of mass murder, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and subversion of justice (April 27, 2009). The matter comes up for hearing and scrutiny before the Supreme Court on August 6, 2010. A report in this matter was submitted by SIT member AK Malhotra to the Supreme Court on May 14, 2010.

Investigations into the mobile phone records of over 200 individuals have revealed that bureaucrats heading Modi’s office (CMO), ministers, top police officers and several of the prime accused were constantly in touch with each other on the critical two days of mass murder, gang rapes and arson

We bring to our readers the findings of our investigation that stretched over six months.

Our investigations into the mobile phone records of over 200 individuals have revealed that bureaucrats heading the chief minister Modi’s office (CMO), ministers, top police officers and several of the prime accused were constantly in touch with each other on the critical two days of mass murder, gang rapes and arson – February 28 and March 1, 2002 – following the fire in a coach of the Sabarmati Express on February 27 in which 56 persons were burnt to death. Ensuring law and order is the direct responsibility of the police force. The police officers who came under our scanner include Gujarat’s then director-general of police (DGP), K Chakravarti and PC Pande, then Ahmedabad police commissioner (PC) who Modi later promoted as DGP.
Pande who held the post of PC in Ahmedabad at the time of the massacres is widely accused of wilfully allowing the killings to go unchecked. Ironically, the Supreme Court appointed SIT that had access to the CD with over 5 lakh phone call records did not bother to analyze these till witnesses and victims filed applications under section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the Trial Court ion September 2009. Embarrassed by these applications for further investigation SIT was content with taking a few corrective steps.

Strangely, Pande received 15 calls from Modi’s office on the morning of February 28, the day the massacre of Muslims began. The fact that Pande did not leave his office after 11 am that day suggests the calls from the office of the top boss were intended to ensure the police did not interfere with the murderous agenda of the rampaging mobs. Stranger still, during the same period, Sanjay Bhavsar (OSD to CM) and Tanmay Mehta (PA to CM) from Modi’s office were in constant telephonic contact with VHP’s Gujarat general secretary Jaideep Patel, a prime accused in the massacres at Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam.

For the CM’S office to be in touch with Patel is indeed intriguing. It is the same Patel who was entrusted by Modi – against a strong advice to the contrary by the district administration – to escort the dead bodies of 56 people (several of them Hindutva activists), who had been charred to death in a fire in the Sabarmati Express on February 27. A compartment in the train had caught fire outside Godhra railway station.

Modi’s government and the BJP-VHP allege that the local Muslims had deliberately set the compartment on fire. It was the VHP’s Gujarat bandh call to protest the train deaths that triggered the state-wide violence against the Muslims from the night of February 27 onwards. For the chief minister’s office to be directly in touch at the relevant time with the man accused of leading and inciting the massacres and rapes suggests collusion at the highest level.

The then health minister Ashok Bhatt (he still retains his portfolio) was also in telephonic contact with Patel on February 28. Gujarat’s then minister of state for home, Govardhan Zadaphia —forced out of the BJP subsequently by Modi— was also in frequent touch with both Patel and Dinesh Togadia, a VHP activist and brother of VHP leader, Praveen Togadia. Another person, Amit Shah who was heading the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank in 2002 stayed in touch with then joint CP, Shivanand Jha. The same Shah who is today home minister in Modi’s cabinet is desperately seeking cover, reportedly facing imminent arrest by the CBI in Sohrabuddin’s fake encounter case.

Former minister for women and child welfare, Maya Kodnani, was arrested by the SIT over a year ago. Her phone call records show that on the day of the massacres (February 28) she was in close touch with additional CP Shivanand Jha. The depositions of witnesses in the Naroda Patiya and Gaam massacres testifying to her incitement of the mobs match with the locational analysis of Kodnani’s mobile. This corroborates her presence at the site of the massacre that fateful day.

Minister of state for power, Kaushik Jamnadas Patel, too, had been in touch with Jha as also several other police officers, right down to police inspector KG Erda, who is accused of facilitating the massacres of Muslims in the Meghaninagar locality where the Gulberg society is located. Another police inspector KK Mysorewala, and BJP state president, Rajendrasinh Rana too were in touch with Kodnani and Patel among others, lending corroborative evidence and weight to the conclusion that the massacres within Ahmedabad on February 28 and all over Gujarat thereafter were part of a well-planned conspiracy at the highest political levels.

Several key questions arise. Why would so many police officers, from JtCP down to inspectors, be constantly in touch with leaders of an outfit like the VHP? Especially with those of them who were subsequently named by eye-witnesses as leading violent mobs? Why were the cops in touch with ministers? If talking to politicians was in the normal course of duty, then surely the politicians and the police officers must account for the absence of effective police action that day. In other words, if police and politicians were in continuous touch for the right reasons what accounts for the complete failure in controlling the violence? The questions are all the more relevant considering that it was the VHP that gave the call for the bandh on February 28, 2002 and its ideological ally, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), declared its unhesitating support for the same.

In view of the above, all arguments in support of a theory of “spontaneous reaction” to the Godhra incident sound hollow.

The analysis of the mobile call records unravels many gory tales. VHP men such as Babu Bajrangi – among the prime accused for the massacres at Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam – and Atul Vaidya – accused of complicity in the massacre at Gulberg Society in Meghaninagar where among others former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri was killed – were also in touch with each other. It may be noted that Meghaninagar and Naroda are in far apart form each other in Ahmedabad city. Why would two accused in two separate incidents of organized mob violence be in touch with each other except by design? It was Bajrangi who boasted about his involvement in the massacre before Tehelka’s hidden cameras (Operation Kalank, 2007). His phone records show that he was also in constant touch with Patel and two others of the VHP on the relevant date.

The Gujarat government and its cronies continue to peddle the theory of a spontaneous outburst in explaining the presence of armed mobs in Naroda and Meghaninagar areas and the absence of adequate police bandobast in both places. It is claimed that because these were not among the known communally sensitive parts of Ahmedabad, the police were deployed elsewhere and that is how the armed mobs had a free reign. (Both CP Pande and JtCP Tandon made much the same point while deposing before the Nanavati-Shah-Mehta Commission).

But our locational analysis of the mobile phone records reveals a sinister twist that exposes this contention as hollow. What were six persons from Modi’s office (CMO) doing in the Meghaninagar locality where the Gulberg society is located on February 27, 2002, the day of the Godhra mass arson and eve of the massacres? According to the call records, all the six persons from the CMO were in the area during 2.00-5.00 pm that day, while Modi was in Godhra. At the same time, then health minister Ashok Bhatt and Tanmay Mehta (PA to CM Modi) are shown as located at Narol- Naroda between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm. These very locations were the sites of the carnage the next day. How is the presence of key and influential persons here to be explained? What were they doing there, who all did they meet?

Even on the day of the massacres at Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaam (February 28) call records show that officials from Modi’s office, ministers Bhatt and IK Jadeja (former urban development minister), and even DGP Chakravarti were present in these areas. The question arises: What were these bigwigs doing in those areas and why could they not stop the killings?

Most significantly, the locational analysis of mobile phone records also corroborates the critical, secret and illegal meeting held at the residence of the chief minister on the night of February 27, 2002. The graphs confirm the presence of officers from Modi’s office and senior policemen in and around his residence in Gandhinagar, Gujarat’s capital. This corroborates the fact that secret/illegal meetings did take place, where instructions to allow free reign to the organised mobs led by men of the VHP/Bajrang Dal are alleged to have been given.

What is truly mysterious is why the high-profile SIT specially appointed by the apex court failed to carry out a professional investigation. For example, eyewitnesses and victim-survivors have spoken of the anguished calls made by Ahsan Jafri (before he was finally killed in a bestial fashion) to people at the highest levels in government. Was this mere human lapse or a pre-planned conspiracy at the very highest levels to allow people to be hounded, trapped, raped, molested, burned and killed at the Gulberg Society in an orgy of violence that started around 10 am and went on until 5.30- 6.00 pm?

An honest SIT investigation ought to have concentrated on the following facts:

  • The post-mortem of the bodies of those burned in the Sabarmati Express (coach S-6) was done hastily at Godhra railway yard itself, allegedly on the insistence of the CM (phone call records between the personal secretary to the CM and the health minister).
  • Modi’s insistence on taking the dead bodies to Ahmedabad, that too under the charge of Jaideep Patel, vice-president, VHP and not any government functionary (affidavits of additional chief secretary, home and collector, Godhra filed before the Nanavati-Shah Commission).
  • The bodies carried by road to Civil Hospital, Ahmedabad in open trucks against the advice of government officers?
  • Call for Gujarat Bandh given by the VHP.
  • State government’s endorsement of the bandh through an official press note.
  • The CM called a meeting of senior police officers & bureaucrats on the       night of February 27, 2002 at which officers were allegedly “advised” not to take action against the riotous mobs the next  day and let people vent their anger.
  • (Meeting attended by chief secretary, ACS (home department), DGP, Gujarat, principal secretary to the CM, CP, Ahmedabad city. Testimony of the meeting was given to Concerned Citizens Tribunal by the then minister of state, revenue, Haren Pandya on May 18, 2002 before Justice (retired) PB Sawant, KG Kannabiran and Teesta Setalvad, convenor of the tribunal).
  • Thereafter, over the next two days:
  • Positioning of senior ministers/party functionaries at police control rooms to monitor the massacres and to ensure police inaction.
  • Muslim residential colonies, shops & establishments identified beforehand.

PC Pande‘s role as revealed on analysis of the call records

  • Analysis of call records of police commissioner Pande suggest that he is being protected by SIT.
  • The phone call records of both Pande and JtCP CP Tandon (see below) show that at the critical time when the latter visited Gulberg Society on February 28 (between 11.43 am and 12.42 pm) when the mob build-up was at its peak, the two spoke to each other six times. For Pande or Tandon to say as they did in affidavits before the commission that neither was aware of what happened at Gulberg Society defies explanation.
  • A close and dispassionate analysis of the police control room (PCR) records of Ahmedabad city co-related with the analysis of mobile phone call records reveal that:
  • Adequate forces were not sent to Gulberg society despite repeated calls made to the police control room (PCR) as is evident from its own official records though Pande would get intimations every 15 minutes of the PCR information.
  • The first time that the fire brigade was called to Gulberg Society was at 6.55 pm in the evening (February 28) when the massacre was over and the entire colony was aflame. Despite this call to the fire brigade, the official panchnama shows that the fire inside Ahsan Jafri’s home was burning for three-four days after the crime.

Call records of Pande
Pande was in his office till about 1.00 am on the night of February 27/28. Normally, he would leave office at around 7 pm every evening. This clearly suggests that he was aware of the gravity of the situation following the Godhra train fire that day. He was back at his office by around 8.00 am. His normal schedule shows that he used to arrive at his office at about 10.30 am. His early arrival again shows that he was aware of the gravity of the situation.

Pande left his office at around 9.45 am and went towards Gota. This is likely to be his visit to the Sola Civil Hospital, where the dead bodies of the Godhra victims had been kept. He returned to his office around 10.50 am. He then remained confined to his office for the entire day and did not move out till about 7.10 pm, when he probably went to Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar.

The important point to be noted is that during the peak hours of the massacres, he did not move out of his office. It also appears that he did not issue clear and firm instructions to any of his officers and let things take their own course.
An analysis of the call records of Pande shows that on February 28 he made or received a total of 302 calls from his mobile phone. He had dialled 39 numbers from his mobile phone. Out of these 39 calls, he called the DGP, K Chakravarti, six times. He spoke to JtCP Jha eight times and his DCPs eight times. Significantly, he called DCP, Zone IV, PB Gondia only twice: 15:16:12 hrs and 15:54:39 hrs. This despite the fact that both the worst-affected Gulberg society, Meghaninagar and Naroda areas were under Gondia’s jurisdiction.

What is truly mysterious is why the high-profile SIT specially appointed by the apex court failed to carry out a professional investigation. For example, eyewitnesses and victim-survivors have spoken of the anguished calls made by Ahsan Jafri to people at the highest levels in government

Calls to/from CMO/Secretariat
There were as many as 15 calls received/and made to the bureaucrats who constantly shadowed the CM. Some secret numbers used by the chief minister himself have been revealed to us by members of Modi’s cabinet at the time that reveal calls made to a set of un-located and unknown numbers. At least about 40 per cent of the calls shown up in the phone records even today remain untraced showing a wilful refusal of both AT&T and Cellforce companies to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. If the Supreme Court were to directly order these companies to cooperate would they be able to get away with such deliberate non-compliance?

  • There were five incoming calls received by Pande from the PA to the chief minister, Tanmay Mehta (PA to CM) on February 28, 2002: 11:14, 13:21, 15:38, 15:57 and 19:26 hours. This was the time of the peak violence when neither Pande, nor any political heavyweight in the state moved to the affected areas.
  • Pande received two calls from Sanjay Bhavsar, OSD to Modi: 13:07 and 14:22 hours.
  • Pande received/made seven calls to/from Anil Mukhim, additional principal secretary to the chief minister on that day. His call records show that he received four calls from Mukhim: 13:09, 13:12, 15:43, 15:50 and 21:14 hours. At 20: 09 hours and again at 21:03 hours he made calls to Mukhim’s number.
  • Pande also received one call from the mobile number of AP Patel, PA to the CM at 17:17 hours on February 28, 2002.
  • Pande was in touch with Ashok Narayan (then additional chief secretary, home) eight times during the day. Each time it is he who made the calls: 13:52,14:17, 14:19, 15:02, 15:25,  20:11, 23:26 and  23:42 hours.
  • Pande got in touch with SK Nanda, secretary, health and family welfare board, once during the day (at 15:05 hours).

Note: The three men close to the chief minister, Tanmay Mehta (PA to CM), Sanjay Bhavsar (OSD to CM) and OP Sinh (PA to the CM) did not file any affidavits before the Nanavati-Shah-Mehta Commission till recently.  Mehta filed his two page affidavit dated January 22, 2010, Bhavsar on January 22, 2010 and Sinh on February 1, 2010. Until then, for eight long years after the carnage, they found no reason, nor were they asked to, file an affidavit.
In these two page affidavits they have explained away the calls made or received from Zadaphia (MoS, home) and Jaideep Patel saying they were probably official and due to passage of time they do not recall what was spoken. There are no averments/explanations in these affidavits about the CMO being in touch with the commissioner of police Ahmedabad while violence had raged: 15 times during the day, a period that also coincided with complete and utter inaction on the part of the Ahmedabad Police. What were they talking to each other about?

Calls to/from other ministers

  • Pande received six calls from MoS, home, Govardhan Zadaphia on February 28, 2002: 11:31, 14:20, 14:5, 16:20, 17:16 and 19:11 hours.
  • Pande spoke to Narottam Patel, minister for water supplies and resources at 13:56 hours form his office landline number.
  • Pande spoke to Ashok Bhatt, state health minister twice: 15:09 and 18:31 hours (both were incoming calls).

Calls to/from main accused

  • Pande spoke to Jaideep Patel, VHP Gujarat general secretary and accused in the Naroda Patiya and Gaam massacres once during the day at 19:31 ours (incoming call). By then the massacre was over.
  • Analysis of calls made from his office landline phone to mobiles of officers show that he connected to mobiles operating in Ahmedabad city only 13 times (out of 302 calls). Of these, 12 were incoming calls on his landline phone. He made just one phone call from his landline number and that too was probably not to an officer. In addition, this single call was made at 20:10:56 by when most of the massacre and mayhem was over. It can be concluded that he did not use the landline to pass orders or instructions to his field officers.

Pande has so far stuck to his ludicrous claim that he had no information of the happenings in Naroda Patiya or Gulberg Society. In the deposition before the commission he attributed this to memory loss concerning the events of February 28, 2002. Pande must be recalled by the commission and re-examined in the wake of these fresh disclosures. That he was fully informed about the developments at Gulberg Society and at Naroda are obvious from his call details. The police control room records confirm that KG Erda, PI Meghaninagar police station (Gulberg Society is under its jurisdiction) called the PCR 10 times.

Has Erda been made the fall guy for the lapses of his superiors?

Pande is also guilty of not declaring curfew on time. Curfew was declared only at 12.54 pm on February 28, 2002 after PCR Shahibaug reported that a 5,000-strong mob had gathered there (12.38 pm) Piecemeal curfew was declared at 12.38 (in another area, not in Meghaninagar) and then at 12.54 pm in the Meghaninagar area instead of a single order being issues for the whole of Ahmedabad city where mobs were on the rampage in different areas simultaneously. Why?
Was this a part of the strategy to keep areas unprotected and to leave the mobs to roam free?

The inaction on the part of Pande is apparent. The real question that arises is the root cause of this inaction: Did he omit to take necessary measures of his own volition, or was he coerced into doing so?

There is another aspect that requires detailed consideration and investigation. On the evening/night of February 27, a meeting was called by the CM. Pande was one of the officers who attended the meeting. What instructions were issued by the CM at the meeting? Were the officers instructed to take firm action? If that was so, then would any officer have dared to disobey the CM over a legal order?

The state government has till this day not taken any serious disciplinary action against any officer. Denying a handful of officers a few months’ salary is all that the government has to show by way of disciplinary action for gross dereliction of duty. It is evident from such farcical action that the Gujarat government was not agitated by the intentional lack of compliance of its legal orders, assuming it had issued any.

The inaction on the part of Pande (then police commissioner), Ahmedabad is apparent. The real question that arises is the root cause of this inaction: Did he omit to take necessary measures of his own volition, or was he coerced into doing so?

Role of JtCP Tandon
Tandon too was in his office late on the night of February 27/28, until about 1.15 am. He was back at his office at by about 8.30 am.

Tandon had visited Gulberg society at around 11.25 am on February 28. But as police witness testimonies before the trial court show, on reaching the spot accompanied by a strike force, he found there a restive mob in an ugly mood. Junior officers on duty pleaded with him to rush additional police personnel to the trouble spot. But he simply left the place with his well-armed strike force in tow. Was his decision to leave Gulberg society unprotected a professional decision or governed by political pressure?

Tandon’s call records show that he received many calls from political bigwigs and some of the prime accused:

  • In the early hours of February 28 (0.32 am) he received a call from Zadaphia; much later, around 5.00 pm a call from Kaushik Jamnadas Patel, state minister for power. Nimesh Patel, accused of killing eight people, got in touch at 22:28:34 on February 28.
  • At 12:06:57 pm (afternoon) Tandon received a call from his immediate boss Pande. Tandon was at Gulberg Society at that time. They talked for about 75 seconds. What they talked about is not known?
  • At around 12:10 pm, there was a wireless message from a vehicle of the Meghaninagar police station to the police control room informing that police had resorted to firing at Gulberg Society. Anyone familiar with police operations would agree that it is not routine practice that the police rush to inform the police control room as soon as they resort to firing. Police would normally inform the Control room only after the situation eases a bit. This can only mean that when Tandon got a call from Pande, police had either already resorted to firing or the mob surrounding the Gulberg Society had become so restive that police firing was imminent. In such a situation, Tandon would certainly have mentioned to Pande the grave situation prevailing at the Gulberg Society.
  • At 11:34 am he made a call to his DCP PB Gondia while he was somewhere near the Shayona Plaza Tower area, which is within 1.5 mtrs. of the Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar. Eye-witnesses and police witnesses have testified to Tandon’s visit and this fact has not been denied by Tandon either.
  • Again at 11.43 am he made a call to Pande on the latter’s mobile number. He made a call thereafter to the police control room at 11.47 am. He then received a call at 11.48 am from an undisclosed landline number. Ten minutes later, he made another call and yet again at 11.58 a.m. He took another call from an undisclosed number to the Control room landline. At 12.06 pm, he received a call from Pande (mobile). Thereafter, he made a call to RJ Savani, DCP Zone V (a neighbouring zone) at 12.09 p.m. He was still in this area when he called Pande at 12:.37 pm.  In between at 12.11 pm he made a call to DCP Jabelia of Zone VI while his location shows him at Kailash Complex, Naroda. When he received a call from Savani at 12.13 pm, he was at the same location but a minute later at 12.14 when he called Pande his location showed up as Kubernagar.
  • There are other calls including two calls made to Pande at 12.18 pm when he was at the Kubernagar location. Between 12.11 pm and 12.33 pm, when he received and made calls his location is shown as Kailash Complex Naroda. Thereafter at 12.41 pm. and 12.42 pm he is shown at Vishal Diamond Factory near New India Colony at Bapunagar. This is a factory owned by MOS home, Zadaphia. Then he is out of the affected area and is shown to be in the vicinity of or at the Bora marriage Hall, Rakhial, Char Rasta (12.44 pm).

The phone call records of both Pande and Tandon show that at the critical time when the latter visits Gulberg Society (between 11.43 am and 12.42 pm) when the mob build up was at its height, the two spoke to each other six times. Tandon’s justification of his departure without leaving behind the strike force (evidence before the Trial Court).

Tandon at Gulberg Society
While just outside Gulberg Society, Tandon received a call from Pande and it may be assumed that the two would have spoken about the violence and restiveness of the mob at Gulberg society at the time. PCR records also reveal that by the time Tandon got a call from Pande when he was at Gulberg society, the police had either already resorted to firing or the mob surrounding the Gulberg Society had become so restive that police firing was imminent. In such a situation, Tandon, ought to have informed Pande about the grave threat to the Gulberg Society. Yet Pande states on oath that he had no knowledge of the happenings there until much later?

Inexplicably, after talking to Pande, Tandon heads for Naroda Patiya. If this movement was on the instructions of Pande, it shows that Pande, who has reportedly pleaded ignorance of the incidents at Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya before the Commission of Inquiry, was actually fully aware of the entire happenings. And that would mean he committed perjury in wilfully misleading the Commission.

Tandon reached Naroda Patiya at around 12.15 pm, imposed curfew at 12.29 pm in Naroda Patiya (wireless message records of the same are available), and then left Naroda Patiya at about 12.33 pm – within 4 minutes of imposing the curfew! At this point a huge mob had already gathered at Naroda Patiya and its intentions to kill and plunder were apparent. It was for this reason that Tandon had to order the imposition of the curfew. However, Tandon made no effort to implement the curfew. He left the place leaving the hapless residents of Naroda Patiya undefended.

On leaving Naroda Patiya, Tandon went to Dariapur and Revdi Bazaar areas where nothing all was quiet. Thus, Tandon was neither at Gulberg Society nor at Naroda Patiya despite having full knowledge of the prevailing situation at the two places. He was not present at the places where the crime was taking place despite having sufficient police force at his disposal. He, thus, clearly abdicated his responsibility and abetted the commission of the crime by the riotous mob.

Was this omission on the part of Tandon a mere act of cowardice or was it an intentional omission to leave the mob free to kill, rape and loot? Was it that he was expected to fall in line and allow the pre-planned pogrom to be executed without any obstruction or resistance?

Were JtCP Tandon’s decision to stay away from the massacre spots a mere act of cowardice or was it intentional to leave the mob free to kill, rape and loot? Was he expected to fall in line and allow the pre-planned pogrom to be executed without any obstruction or resistance?

Witnesses deposing before the trial court in the Gulberg society case have testified to Tandon’s refusal to allow them to take the slain bodies of their near and dear ones when they (survivors) were rescued around 5.30 pm. Evidence also points to the fact that until then the bodies were in a recognisable state. Three days later, when survivors were called for the mass burial of their near and dear ones at the Kalandari Masjid Kabrastan, the bodies were charred lumps of flesh. Is not the joint commissioner of police Ahmedabad guilty of destruction of the bodies and therefore also tampering with evidence?

Role of JtCP Shivanand Jha
Jha, too, was in his office till about 1.15 am on the night of February 27/28 and was back there only a few hours later, at about 5:10 am. As in the case of Pande, his being in his office till late hours and arriving very early suggests that he, too, was aware of the gravity of the situation. It is seen that both the sector heads – Tandon and Jha did not move out of their offices till about 11.00 am despite mounting tension and reports of gathering mobs and skirmishes.

On February 27, 2002 Shivanand Jha received 68 phone calls, mostly from numbers not listed in the official government directories. This suggests they were private phone numbers owned by politicians or officials or they were using phones actually in other’s names. The next day, Jha’s call records show as many as 192 calls of which four are the ones he made to then Gujarat power minister, Kaushik Jamnadas Patel (an MLA from Jha’s jurisdiction). Another three are those that he made to then MLA from an area outside his jurisdiction, Dr. Maya Kodnani. Jha’s phone call records show that he called JtCP Tandon once at 18:16 hours. Jha and Pande were in touch nine times during the day which shows that they were clearly aware of the inaction of the police and action of the mob.

Jha was also in touch with Harsh Bhahmbhatt, a close aide of the chief minister, from whose instrument the chief minister could have made calls at 19:35 hours.

Role of PB Gondia (DCP, Zone IV (Meghaninagar and Naroda areas):

  • Gondia received two calls from Maya Kodnani at 10.39 hours and 17.05 hours. Gondia received three calls from the accused Jaideep Patel of the VHP at 11:40, 11:52 and 12: 20 hours.  This is a crucial time when the violence was building up, mobs were attacking Naroda Patiya, Gaam and Gulberg Society. Gondia spoke to the accused Nimish Patel six times during the day: 13:53, 14:13, 15:01, 18:55, 21:43 and 22:10 hours.
  • Gondia received two calls from minister Kaushik Patel at 17:24 and 17:29 hours.
  • He also received three calls from K Nityanandan, secretary home department: 19:40, 23:15 and 23:16 hours.
  • Gondia’s records show that from 12:35 hours to 22:01 hours on February 28, 2002 he was in the Meghaninagar and Narol (Naroda) areas and yet did nothing to dispel the mob, call the fire brigade or stem the violence. At 18:55:59 and then again at 21:43:23 Gondia received a call from Nimesh Patel (9824255788). It appears as if this officer was regularly reporting to Nimish Patel and Jaideep Patel: at 22:10:52 Gondia called Nimesh Patel and at 11:40:02 he received a call from  Jaideep Patel  

Role of KG Erda (Police officer, Meghaninagar police station)
KG Erda, investigating officer, Meghaninagar who was accused by SIT in its charge-sheet dated May 16, 2009 before the trial court is the lowest officer in the chain of command vis-à-vis Gulberg Society carnage:

  • Erda’s phone call records show that he had been in constant touch with the Control room throughout February 27 and 28. Even on the day of the Godhra tragedy, Erda had been in touch with the Control room from 1.21 pm right up to 11.10 pm, and even kept regular contact with his immediate superior Gondia.
  • On February 28, of the 28 logged calls made and received by him, 13 were made by him to the police; 10 calls logged on his mobile show that he called the Control room 10 times speaking for a total of about 12 minutes; three calls were made by him to the local Meghaninagar police station during which he spoke a total of 65 seconds; two calls were made to DCP Gondia and two calls to JtCP Tandon.
  • The fact that this police officer, the man on the spot, was in touch with the control room except between 15.33 pm and 17.52 p.m. (that is for a period of two hours and 20 minutes) when he preferred to call his immediate bosses Gondia and Tandon could be significant. This is because this was a critical period of the killing and carnage at the Gulberg Society when frantic messages to the control room could have yielded more immediate help.
  • In police and law enforcement language, a call to the control room effectively means a call to the commissioner of police, CP Ahmedabad in this case. Various officers in charge of the control room are expected, to report to the CP area-wise every 15 minutes. A close scrutiny of the phone call log records of the various police stations connected with these trials, the police control room, Shahibaug Ahmedabad, and state police control room, Gandhinagar would reveal which officers performed their duties and kept their superiors constantly briefed. If these records then show that after having received such critical information a close coterie of senior officers who were in touch with the CMO did not act, allegations of conspiracy get substantiated.
  • To top it all, the phone call records of Erda also reveal that on February 28 he was in touch with influential and key accused at various times of the day. At 15:20:35 Erda received a call from the then MLA Maya Kodnani’s office. (It may be recalled that Kodnani was Gujarat’s minister, women and child development, in 2009 when she was served notice of arrest by SIT. She then absconded for several days before surrendering. Kodnani thereafter resigned her position and was refused bail by the Gujarat high court. At 18:20:31 Erda again called Kodnani on her mobile and spoke for 93 seconds from the Meghaninagar area. Mysteriously, at 17:59:24 the same evening, Erda also called the accused Nimesh Patel that lasted 24 seconds. In what could be the strangest co-incidence or have the ingredients of a sinister conspiracy, Nimesh Patel spoke to Kodnani from his mobile four times – at 12:40 for 29 seconds, at 10:03 for 32 seconds, at 20:58 for 22 seconds and at 12:21 for 154 seconds.                 

(The investigation and scrutiny on which this report is based was directed and supervised by Teesta Setalvad in which the entire staff of CJP and Sabrang Trust participated wholeheartedly and with dedication. Many individuals from Ahmedabad who were witness to the 2002 massacre but who wished to remain anonymous made invaluable contributions to the investigation.)

Archived from Communalism Combat, June 2010 Year 16    No.152, Cover Story 1



Related Articles