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. Details related to his failures as a senior policeman at Naroda Patiya can be read here.
On leaving Naroda Patiya, Tandon went to Dariapur and Revdi Bazaar areas where 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?
Witness Testimonies in Gulberg Indict Tandon on his Refusal to Claim Dead Bodies of Loved Ones
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 PB Gondia (DCP, Zone IV (Meghaninagar and Naroda areas):
⇒ Gondia’s phone call 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. Details on the role of PB Gondia then DCP, Crime Branch can be read here.
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 police 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 Jt CP 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.
Was 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?
⇒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.
1. Sitting On The Truth
2. Citizens for Justice and Peace
(The investigation and scrutiny on which this report is based was directed and supervised by Teesta Setalvad for CJP in which many of our team 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. Excerpted from the cover story, first carried in Communalism Combat, June 2010 Year 16 No.152, Cover Story 1)