Gulberg Massacre: Tortuous Journey to Justice

Timeline: Gulberg Trial

Incident takes place on 28.2.2002. FIR is dated the same day. KG Erda first PI at Meghaninagar Police station files the FIR, he is later arraigned as accused by the SIT in 2009.
Witness Survivors file several Applications under Section 173(8) of the CRPC dated 25.11.2002, 16.4.2003, 18.7.2003 and 4.11.2003 before the Supreme Court of India stays the Major trials on 23.11.2003
A total of 9 charge sheets were filed in this case out of which 3 charge sheets were considered to be defective
Citizens for Justice and Peace(CJP) represents the Witness Survivors case in the Supreme Court. The Amicus Curiae appointed in October 2003 also makes separate representations before the Court. The issue of partisan prosecutors is continually raised by the Supreme Court as is the issue of faulty investigations and threats to the survivors.


Submission by Amicus Curiae Harish Salve (March 20, 2007)

The Supreme Court appointed Amicus Curiae Harish Salve submitted a note on 27th March 2007 on the background of the riot cases as well as on Gulberg Society, Ode, Sardarpura, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya.
With regards to Gulberg, the Amicus Curiae notes that there are three different charge sheets recorded, two against the State of Gujarat and one against individual accused. The Amicus Curiae further notes that there are two primary issues present.
The first one deals with bias in the police and how they either refuse to record allegations against certain people and have done a shoddy job investigating. The second issue refers to the manner in which the accused were granted bail and the conduct of the public prosecutor which created apprehensiveness about whether justice would prevail.
Harish Salve further notes that there are already affidavits on record which address the first issue. There is already an application under section 173(8) of the CRPC before the sessions court, which along with sworn affidavits of Rupabehn Mody and 11 witnesses and survivors, alleges that in police statements of the witnesses the names of the accused were mentioned but these names vanish from investigation records and are not present in the charge sheet.
The Amicus Curae also notes a sworn affidavit mentions an alleged nexus between certain people involved in the violence and police officials. The allegations are that two CDS, which are now with the Nanavati Shah panel, contain records of all phone calls on the first five(worst days) of the riots. The allegations are that one accused, Dr. Jaydeep Patel, was in touch with the other accused as well as senior police officials including the police commissioner. Importantly, the Amicus Curae notes that the allegations need to be investigated by some agency other than those against whom the allegations are directed. Further, if the allegations mentioned above are established, they would place the matter in a completely different light, as to if they are found to be unsubstantiated.

Further details can be found here


CJP submission on appointment of SIT (March 26, 2008)

The Supreme Court noted that the cases of Godhra, Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya, Naroda Gaon, Sardarpura, Ode, Dipda Darwaza, needed to be re-investigated. The court based its findings on the counsel for both parties and the note of the Amicus Curiae and the judgement held that the considerations that the lack of investigation and the trial had similar charecteristics to the findings of the Best Bakery Case(Zahira Sheikh vs State of Gujarat). In this case, the trial was shifted out of Gujarat due to the hostile atmosphere and inability to decree proper justice. In the current case, the Court recommended a formation of a special investigation team (SIT) on the basis of unprecedented scale and magnitude of offences, nature and status of alleged officers and on an appreciation of ground reality.
In this application, the petitioners ( CJP) had requested that the appointments of officers to the SIT should be of the Survivors choice. This was not granted by the Supreme Court. The list of initially appointed members is below, but the SIT was given full control to appoint officers of varying ranks to its team.


 1. Mr.Raghavan, Former Director of the CBI;
2. Mr.C.B.Satpathy;
3. Rajnish Kumar Rai (1992, IPS);
4. Dr.Neerja Gotru Rao (1993, IPS);
5. A.K.Singh (1985, IPS

Further Details can be found here

Tabular Presentation by Teesta Setalvad to SIT team (May29, 2008)+ 2 Annexures

Tabular Presentation by Teesta Setalvad, Secretary  Citizens for Justice and Peace before the Special Investigation Team  (SIT) appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme  Court through its Order dated 26.3.2008 following Part I, II and III Statements submitted at Gandhinagar on May 9, 2008.

This detailed and substantiated presentation flags several crucial issues that needed to be looked at during the further investigation by the SIT:

  • Violations of Section 154 of the CRPC in the manner in which the first FIR was registered in the Gulberg Case
  • Investigations into why the Fire Brigade had not reached the Gulberg Society the entire day on 28.2.2002 and until late the next day?
  • Defects in the first three charge sheets filed by the Crime Branch and pinning of responsibility on officers responsible for this lapse
  • Analysis of the Inquest Panchnamas of the Burned Bodies and Investigation into the deliberate non-recovery of the burned/burning bodies
  • Investigations into how and who protected powerful accused
  • Investigations into the Applications made by the Witness Survivors under Section 173(8) of the CRPC dated 25.11.2002, 16.4.2003, 18.7.2003 and 4.11.2003 before the Supreme Court of India stayed the trials on 23.11.2003
  • Swift Bail sought by accused and not opposed by PPs and police
  • Investigation into the deliberate efforts to subvert the trial by appointment of Public Prosectors with allegiences to the political dispensation: Chetan Shah was removed as PP in 2003 after an application to the local Court by Foroz Gulzar Pathan. Thereafter one VP Atre his junior was appointed and then, while the Supreme Court was hearing the matter one Vinod Gajjar who had earlier been appearing for accused in the Gulberg case was appointed as PP by the state!
  • Proper and thorough investigation(s) into Tehelka’s Operation Kalank which tapes had been authenticated by the CBI following an order by the NHRC. This sting operation accused Mangilal Jain stating that PI Erda had stated that the mob had three hours to do what it wished; He says he was in the mob; he names Atul Vaid and Bharat Teli (until then not arrested)  and Meghsingh also. Madan Chawal describes how Ahsan Jaffri was butchered bit by bit. Ashish Khetan deposed in the trial as PW 418.
  • Investigations into the Phone Call records that show a Policeman-Politician Nexus and a specific look at the Political interference into the Investigations

Further details can be found here:

Annexure 1 Tabular Presentation by Teesta Setalvad to SIT May 29, 2008: Gulberg Statement Panchnamas                                                                   

The first thing to be noted is that several people died in the incident that occurred in Gulberg society and several died inside the house of Ahsan Jaffery. This was part of the initial allegations and was confirmed by the police.
The annexure contains a list of the detailed inquest panchnamas. It shows that 38 panchnamas were created for a total of 38 dead bodies. However, several discrepancies emerge. The first was that according to the details of the panchnamas, the police obtained 32 dead bodies the day after the incident but many were not found. Despite knowing that bodies were missing (Panchnamas), no detailed examination inside the house of Shri Ahsan Jaffri was made.
Shockingly, as is reveled from a perusal of the panchnamas themselves, the Police have kept a time duration of five minutes between all the panchnamas carried out by the police and it has also been recorded that all panchnamas were completed within 20 minutes. Thus it clearly seems that police has prepared all panchnamas afterwards (post facto) or in fact have fabricated panchnamas on their own.

Thus, if police had, in fact conducted a systematic and proper investigation within the house of Shri Jaffery immediately after, that is on day after the incident, based on the statements of witnesses, there was a reasonable possibility of finding all dead bodies in a reasonably good condition. But the police have intentionally not made any such attempt to search for the dead bodies of the people killed. Therefore it seems that they have not only committed the crime of ensuring through negligence an incomplete investigation, but worse, they have permitted the destruction of, or causedthe destruction of evidence with an intention to help the accused intentionally, and have committed such act by which benefit may cause to the accused.

Further details can be found here:

Annexure 7 to Tabular Presentation by Teesta Setalvad to SIT(May 29, 2008)

Points from former CP Ahmedabad, presently DGP Gujarat, PC Pande’s Deposition before the Nanavati Shah (now Nanavati Akshay Mehta) commission.
In a subsequent deposition to the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Joint CP(Ahmedabad) M.K Tandon(in charge of areas which oversaw the two worst massacres) told the Nanavati-Shah commission that he heard about the attack on Gulberg Society at 2pm on February 28th. However, records of Tandon’s official cell phone reveal that between 11.34 a.m. and 12.09 p.m., he was in the Meghaninagar area (where Gulberg Society is). From Meghaninagar, records show, he called up the DCP in charge of the area and the CP, PC Pandey. (According to police records, violence at Gulberg Society started at 10.30 a.m. and went on till 7 p.m.)
Further details can be found here: 

SIT and Survivors
Police officials from Gujarat deputed by the SIT to conduct further investigations, showed a marked hostility to eye–witnesses and cross-examined them as if they were defence counsel rather than an investigating team recording the statements of key eyewitnesses, statements that would be crucial in the subsequent prosecution. This attitude was objected to in writing by survivor eye-witnesses. Neither of the two senior officers (Raghavan and Satpathy) hand-picked by the apex court to head the SIT at the time was available to hear the complaints of witness survivors. This was also stated before the Supreme Court in 2009-2010 when the CJP tried to ensure a re-constitution of the SIT on these grounds. Witnesses were partially successful when IPS officers Geeta Johri and Shivanand Jha were precluded by the Court from being part of the investigation team thereafter (May 2010).
Two sets of 161 statements recorded (Gulberg case)
The First set of 161 statements recorded by SIT officials in May-June 2008 at its specially appointed premises in Gandhinagar. Four months later the investigating officer (IO), JM Suthar, appointed by Ashish Bhatia, summoned some of the witnesses to another location, the Special Operations Group (SOG) office in Juhapura. Complaints were made to higher echelons of SIT in this regard.
On an examination of the SIT charge sheet it has been found that the September 2008 date was used by SIT deputed IO to concoct 161 statements that entirely water down the first set of statements recorded by SIT. When the crucial eyewitnesses began deposing before the trial court from November 2, 2009 onwards, each one of them denied ever having recorded a second statement. A close scrutiny of the testimonies of witnesses in the Gulberg massacre case reveals that the investigation by the SIT (aimed to weaken its own prosecution case) has been torn to shreds. This too was pointed out to the Supreme Court in 2009-2010.

Public Prosecutor RK Shah’s resignation letter dated February 25, 2010 states this let down by SIT clearly:
“All the while Mr. Bhatia (Ashish Bhatia Member of SIT) insisted upon to see that the victim eye-witnesses should depose according to their statements before SIT. It may please be seen that the witnesses speak as per their first statement before SIT but they disown their further statements which I find to be damaging to the prosecution and at times wiping out their first statements. I fail to understand why such further statements were required to be recorded which no witness would admit particularly when they have engaged a private lawyer. “ This Letter was shown to Hon SC on 15.3.2010


Application in the Supreme Court, praying for the reconstitution of the SIT (CJP) (April 17, 2009)

The petition stated that the Gujarat state affidavit, which made reference to certain portions of the SIT report which cast aspersions on Ms Teesta Setalvad and Advocate Mr. Tirmizi on the grounds of directing certain witnesses, should be expunged. Since the matter is reserved for orders, the petition observed that it attempted to take attention away from the main thrust of the matter of providing justice to victims of a violent carnage and also due to the fact that it appears that the quotation from the report is totally out of context with malafide intentions to diminish the efforts made by members of the civil society. Further, the petition said that an opportunity to respond to the maliciously selective leaks being flashed in the media of the SIT report could be one recourse by the court.

That while making the suggestions below as directed by this Hon’ble Court, Citizens of Justice and Peace would like to reiterate that given the malafide actions mentioned above, the pressures on the conduct of the criminal trials are likely to remain given the state of Gujarat’s hostile and unreasonable attitude. Transfer of these trials remains the best remedy under the circumstances. Hence if the NHRC petition for transfer out of the State of Gujarat is not granted, Special steps including Day to Day Observation by independent Observers in each of the trials appointed directly by the Supreme Court, would be required to ensure that the trials having reached this stage are not subverted.
Further suggestions in the petition were made with specific reference to Designated Courts, Prosecutors, Victim Protection, Monitoring the trials and Recording of Evidence.

Further details can be found here:

Media Links

Sit Ordered to Probe Incomplete Investigation(September 8, 2009)
      Application Under 173(8) filed by Witnesses and Citizens for Justice and Peace

Media Reports highlight how the Special Investigation Team(SIT) which was to probe into the 2002 riots was ordered by a special court to produce evidence in front of the court which was missing. This included video evidence as well as meta data. The meta data was the phone records of former MP Ehsan Jaffery. This order came about after an application filed by CJP which highlighted the holes in the investigation conducted by the SIT. The CJP advocate alleged that several witnesses had told the SIT in their statements that Ehsan Jaffery had called many police officers and leaders with desperate pleas including Director General of Police K Chakrabarty, then Police Commissioner P C Pande to then city’s mayor and the Leader of Opposition. But the SIT had not bothered to investigate it. With regards to the video evidence, the application suggests that video recording by journalist Ashish Khaitan in a sting operation which recorded a conversation between Babu Bajrangi and others accused in the related cases. The media reports were from a variety of papers such as Daily Pioneer, Times of India and DNA.

SIT forced to submit police records in Gulberg Case, phone records of 3 accused missing (October 7, 2009) – Press Release by CJP
Despite finally producing the missing evidence after being directed by a special Court, the SIT’s dossier still doesn’t account for all the evidence.  The mobile phone records of all three accused, Madan Chawal, Prahlad Raju and Mangilal Jain caught making filthy confessions by Ashish Khaitan of Tehelka(in a previously mentioned sting operation) were again reported by SIT to be ‘missing.’ The reason given was varying statements by mobile telephone companies like  BSNL etc that ‘they did not preserve mobile phone records beyond six months to one year.
Furthermore, the press release mentions the lack of thorough investigation by the SIT. This can be seen as the statement of Ashish Khaitan was recorded by SIT on January 18, 2009 and again on March 12, 2009. However, no efforts were made by SIT to interrogate the three Gulberg accused on whom Ashish Khaitan had conducted a sting operation nor claim their mobile phone records of the relevant time. Moreover, despite citing him as a Prosecution witness no efforts had been made by SIT to acquire the equipment used by Khaitan for the investigation or speak to his senior in Tehelka magazine. In short no efforts were made to authenticate Khaitan’s evidence.

Media Reports: Witnesses Statement- Jafri did call Modi for help during riots (November 2009)

An eyewitness in the 2002 Gulberg massacre case told the fast-track court, that while his house was under attack by rioters, Congress leader Ehsan Jafri did indeed make a phone call to Chief Minister Narendra Modi for help only to be abused. The witness, Imtiaz Said Khan Pathan is one of the survivors of the Gulberg Society massacre. According to his deposition, Pathan said that due to the mob attacking the society, he had gone to Jafri’s house for protection. Furthermore, Pathan said that Jafri revealed to him that he was going to call Modi for protection and after inquiring about Modi’s response; Jafri said that the Chief Minister had abused him instead of providing help.
A week later, another witness, Rupa Mody deposed before the same court. Rupa Mody confirmed Imtiaz Pathan’s deposition which alleged that Ehsan Jafri did call Chief Minister Narendra Modi for help. Rupa Mody further elaborated on the brutality of the massacre which occurred at Jafri’s residence. Her statement also alleges that the police had forged her statement dated July 1, 2002 and that they pressured her to change her statement in front of the Nanavati Shah Commission in return for help in finding her son.
The reports are from The Indian Express and The Times of India

  1. ‘When Jafri called Modi for help during riots, CM abused him’ (The Indian Express) (Nov 5, 2009)
  2. Jafri had called CM for help, Parzania mother tells court  (The Times of India) (Nov 11, 2009)


Media Reports: Gulberg Society victims demand transfer of trial, allege Judge’s bias

Some witnesses and victims of the Gulberg Society communal riots massacre in 2002 have demanded transfer of the trial from the special court of Judge B.U. Joshi, alleging a “bias” in favour of the accused. A transfer petition was subsequently filed in the court of principal sessions Judge G.B. Shah. The transfer petition alleged that the Judge, Joshi, showed a distinct bias in favour of the accused. After the first two witnesses, Irfan Pathan and Rupa Mody had recorded their statements, no other witnesses were allowed to identify the accused and any objections raised by the lawyers of the witnesses were constantly overruled.
Furthermore, the petition states the treatment of accused constable Rajesh Jinger. Jinger was arraigned as an accused, but the judge did not order his arrest and allowed him to go free on a bond. This occurred despite the fact that Jinger did not file a bail plea.
The petition states how the victims don’t see any hope of justice from Judge Joshi and cited the example of the Best bakery case as one which was transferred to another court.

The media reports are from The Hindu, The Indian Express, CJP Online and The Times of India.

  1. Gulberg Society victims demand transfer of trial  (The Hindu) (Jan. 26, 2010)
  2. Witnesses call trial judge biased (The Indian Express) (Jan. 26, 2010) 
  3. GULBERG TRIAL UPDATE Victim Witnesses Move Tranfer Petition,  Judge Biased (CJP Online) (Jan. 25, 2010) 
  4. Gulbarg massacre witnesses demand change of judge (The Times of India)  (Jan. 26, 2010) 


Application in the Supreme Court highlighting the Inadequacies in the SIT investigation(Phone call records) (March 29, 2011)

Advocate for the victims and witnesses in the Gulberg Society Massacre case, S M Vohra, has filed a detailed application urging the Trial Court to order the SIT (Special Investigation Team) appointed by the Supreme Court to rectify the loopholes in evidence brought on record in this case.

The application details how under provisions of the Evidence Act it is critical that the integrity and authenticity of the CD placed on records by Rahul Sharma then DCB Crime before the Nanavati Commission is verified and call records ownership are authenticated and locational reach of mobile towers are proved. By deliberately being lax in tying up the evidence, an escape route could be provided to the perpetrators.
For example
–the destruction of phone records of Ahsan Jafri has not been probed by SIT nor statements recorded or criminal responsibility pinned on the policemen perpetrators responsible for this offence
–similarly the phone records of senior cops like then Commissioner of Police PC Pande who received 15 calls from the Chief Minister's Office between about 12 noon and 3 pm when both Gulberg society and Naroda were under attack has been left un-investigated with no statement being recorded of Pande or the CMO in this connection.

–Similarly the location records of then Jt CP Zone IV MK Tandon and DCP PB Gondia, revealed after witnesses were granted an application for further investigation under section 173(8) of the CRPC on 7.9.2009, have also been left un-investigated by SIT.

Further details can be found here: 

The same issues had been raised in the Trial Court hearing the Gulberg case and before the Nanavati-Shah Commission in 2010.

Evidence from phone call records(2010-11)

Analysis: How Gujarat’s Top Cops Deserted Residents of Gulberg Society
Where were the Top Cops when Armed Mobs Surrounded and Attacked Gulberg Society?

Commissioner of Police PC Pande
Curfew was declared in the Meghaninagar area where the GulbergSociety is located at 12.54 pm (according to the Police Control Room Records-PCR ). By then, according to data of the PCR itself, the Gulberg Society had already been surrounded by a mob of 4-5,000 armed with weapons. (12.38 p.m., PCR Records).
In law, the Commissioner of Police, PC Pande has the responsibility of declaring curfew on time. At 2.09 p.m. PI Meghaninagar KG Erda even asked for Central Forces but the PCR records show no deployment of paramilitary forces in the area till late in the evening,a decision that should have been taken by the Commissioner of Police, PC Pande .
Joint Commissioner of Police, Sector II, MK Tandon
He finds himself more comfortable in the Revdi Bazar area between 2 and 3 p.m. immediately after he received a call from his boss, Commissioner of Police PC Pande informing him of the attack on the residents of the GulbergSociety in the Meghaninagar area (Revdi Bazar is five kilometres away from the Gulberg Society)
When the PCR sent a message to Tandon mentioning that Shri Ahsan Jafri and other residents of the Gulberg society were in danger, Tandon was still seen in Revdi Bazar area which was apparently calm, with no incidents of violence.
In spite of Meghaninagar PI KG Erda desperately seeking additional deployment at Gulberg around 2.30 p.m. MK Tandon leaves the Revdi Bazar area only after he was ordered to do so by City Police Commissioner, PC Pande around 3 p.m. Ironically, Revdi Bazar where Tandon appears to have sought asylum falls under the jurisdiction of his counterpart  Shivanand Jha who during those crucial minutes was in the comfort of his own office at Shahibaug.
DCP Zone IV, P.B. Gondia
Not only did Tandon shy away from the engulfed and burning Gulberg society, even his deputy,DCP Zone IV, PB Gondia  inspite of being repeatedly informed by PCR (Police Control Room) about the attack on Gulberg Society stayed away from the worst affected areas and from attending to the helpless cries of residents. He preferred to stay at the Kuber Nagar area, 6 kilometres away.
Gondia arrives at the Gulberg Society a few minutes before 2 p.m. on that fateful day only to leave the place in less than one hour, leaving a free way of passage to the armed mob. Later
that afternoon Gondia moves to the Kalupur area which does not come under his jurisdiction.
The safety of the entire Meganinagar area during the most crucial periods of the day, from 11.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. was left on PI KG Erda’s shoulders despite the fact that Erda had himself asked the PCR to inform his bosses about the gravity of the situation and also to ensure that senior officers remain physically present as things were beyond his control.
Today, KG Erda is an accused in the trial but P.B.Gondia, M.K. Tandon and P.C. Pande have escaped the in vestigator’s net.
Clearly evident is the fact that the top Gujarat officers turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to the pleas of victims under attack for reasons best known to them.
The entire Meghaninagar area was left unmanned by senior police personnel even when a residential society along with a neighbouring police chowkey were set afire leading to huge
casualties. Among the 69 persons maimed, massacred and burnt to ashes, were
former parliamentarian ShriAhsan Jafri.
(Source: Phone Call Records Analysis Co-Related with PCR Records)

Post 2011

The Trial runs intermittently from then on, just a few days a week for and for over 11 months the Special Investigation Team(SIT) actually ensures it does not continue by appealing against an Order of Judge Dhanda who had granted the Witnesses papers related to the role of Joint Commissioner Police MK Tandon and Commissioner of Police PC Pande in the Zakia Jafri case, Finally documents are allowed to the witnesses after which the trial resumes.


Finally, the stay on the final judgement imposed by the Supreme Court is lifted and the Judge is directed to pronounce his verdict. Only one extension is granted after this.




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