Saturday, April 23, 2011

End game for Modi?

Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt IPS, a senior Gujarat police officer, who was posted in the Intelligence Department during the 2002 communal riots filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on 14th April 2011.Here are the main points in the affidavit.

I am filing this affidavit to bring on record certain aspects concerning the enquiry/investigation being conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), appointed by this Hon’ble Court.

I am a Post-Graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. After completing my post-graduation, I joined the Indian Police Service (IPS) in 1988 and was allotted to the Gujarat cadre.

I was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence, State Intelligence Bureau, Gandhinagar, from December 1999 to September 2002. This was the post I was occupying at the time when the 2002 Gujarat Riots took place.
I respectfully state that owing to the post I was occupying in the State Intelligence Bureau, I came across huge amounts of intelligence and information pertaining to the events that had transpired prior to, as well as during the Gujarat Riots of 2002.

The information and documentary evidence, which I have already shared with the SIT, can throw light on the real nature of events that led to the incident of burning of the S-6 Coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra on 27th February 2002 and the larger conspiracy and official orchestration behind the subsequent Gujarat Riots of 2002.

On being summoned by SIT for the first time in November 2009, I had provided the SIT with certain relevant information and documents, including original floppy discs containing the entire cell phone/cell-site records of Godhra Town for 26th and 27th February 2002; as well as the original print-outs of very important call records of certain high-ranking functionaries of the State for 27th and 28th February 2002.

I was present at the meeting called by the Chief Minister on the late night on 27.2.2002 and was personally aware about the instructions given there at and the events that transpired thereafter. I had also provided the SIT with verifiable details regarding the on-going cover up operation; including the contemporaneous efforts made by high official of the State administration to undermine the proceedings of Writ Petition (Civil) No. 221 of 2002., which was pending before this Hon’ble Court in 2002.

Upon my request, the SIT provided me with a relevant portion of the transcript of my testimony, pertaining to the instructions given by the Chief Minister, at the conclusion of meeting held on 27-02-200, where it was tried to impress upon him that the decision to bring the dead bodies to Ahmedabad and the BJP announcement of the supporting the VHP Bandh Call would definitely lead to outbreak of communal violence in Ahmedabad and across the state; and the Gujarat police did not have the manpower resources to deal with such a situation. The relevant portion of the transcript of my testimony, as recorded and provided to me by SIT, read as follow.

The Chief minister Shri. Narendra Modi said that the bandh call had already been given and the party had decided to support the same, as incidents like the burning of Kar-Sevaks at Godhra could not be tolerated. He further impressed upon the gathering that for too long the Gujarat Police had been following the principle of balancing the actions against the Hindus and Muslims while dealing with the communal riots in Gujarat. This time the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again. The Chief Minister Shri. Narendra Modi expressed the view that the emotions were running high amongst the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent out their anger.”

The effects of these directions given by the Chief Minister were widely manifested in the half-hearted approach and the evident lack of determination on the part of the Police while dealing with the widespread incidents of orchestrated violence during the State-sponsored Gujarat Bandh on 28th February 2002 and also during the weeks that followed.

I state and submit that, I had numerous meetings presided over by the Chief Minister, even before 27th February 2002 and continued to do so thereafter as well.

I have time and again tried to bring these facts to the notice of the Special Investigation Team but they seem to be disinclined to follow-up these important leads in the course of the enquiry/investigation being carried out by them.

During the course of my deposition before SIT, there were certain other occurrences which were highly indicative of real-time leakage of information from within the SIT.

On 25th March 2011, when I again tried to bring up the issue of a larger conspiracy or official orchestration behind the Gujarat Riots of 2002, as also the ongoing attempts at cover-up, I faced unconcealed hostility from the members of SIT. This was even more obvious when I gave names of witnesses who could corroborate the fact of my having attended the said meeting with the Chief Minister on 27.2.2002.

The SIT has chosen to intimidate certain witnesses and coerce them in to refraining from stating the true facts and thereby has created an impression that the SIT is becoming a party to the ongoing cover-up operation in Gujarat.

One of the witnesses I had named, Shri K. D. Panth (Assistant Intelligence Officer with the State Intelligence Bureau in 2002) informed me that he had been called before the Special Investigative Team on 5.4.2011 and was virtually treated like an accused and was threatened with arrest and other dire consequences.

I was approached by a very high-level functionary in the Government of Gujarat and was sought to be appropriately briefed prior to my scheduled interaction with SIT.

My fears regarding the confidentially of my deposition before SIT was eventually confirmed as the contents of my signed deposition as well as the details of my interaction with Shri. A. K. Malhotra and Shri. Paramveer Singh-Members SIT, were somehow available to the highest echelons of the Government of Gujarat. As a result and consequence of the said breach of confidentiality. I was visited and continue to be visited with unpleasant consequences.

I became highly apprehensive about my security and the safety and security of my family members. In view of the perceived security threat, I requested the Government of Gujarat to provide me and my family members with adequate and fool-proof security cover. Unfortunately, the Government of Gujarat has chosen not only to disregard my repeated requests, but has time and again, sought to jeopardize my security by withdrawing even the existing make-shift and minimal security arrangement, worked out from within the meager resources at my disposal.

I have serious and well-founded apprehensions regarding my own safety and and the safety and security of my family members.
I am constrained to take the liberty of filing this Affidavit before this Hon’ble Court to bring on record certain disquieting aspects and inadequacies in the manner and approach of the SIT, personally experience by me during my interaction with the SIT.

As Deputy Commissioner (Intelligence) with the State Intelligence Bureau, during the Gujarat Riots of 2002, I was privy to a plethora of information pertaining to the facts and circumstances that led to and facilitated the communal carnage that took place in Gujarat in 2002. I did not bring these facts to light earlier due to the fact that I was privy to this information in my capacity as an officer of the Intelligence Bureau and was not expected to divulge the details unless under a legal obligation to do so.

Many serious incidents of communal violence, including the carnage at Gulberg Society, could have been easily prevented by firm and determined action on part of the Police.

I therefore request that this Hon’able Court be pleased to ensure that the SIT follows up on all the leads provided by me in such a manner that even reluctant witnesses feel safe and confident to state the truth. It is further requested that the Government of Gujarat and the authorities under its control may kindly be restrained from pressurizing witnesses with a view to prevent the truth from coming out.

My Take

Most of us are convinced about the main role played by Narendra Modi in deliberately escalating Communal tension in Gujarat leading to the Riots of 2002. The surprising and terrifying truth that is revealed here in this affidavit by Mr Sanjiv Bhatt is the fact that SIT appointed by the Supreme Court is trying to shield Modi from prosecution.

How will Supreme Court react to this?  Will  there be a new SIT? Then it may take many more years before any verdict can be expected. Or will the Supreme Court be brave enough to ask for charge sheeting Modi with all the present evidence? Or is there a remote and dreaded chance of Supreme Court rejecting this affidavit?
Most probably, as more and more truths are revealed  Modi will become a liability for BJP and will be asked to step down. The affidavit by this brave IPS Officer Sanjiv Bhatt may be the beginning of end game for Narendra Modi.

Affidavit full text

Monday, April 11, 2011

India's Tahrir Square Moment- But why the 'wise' men are sulking?

Last week we saw some extra-ordinary scenes from the Indian Capital Delhi.A frail old man named Anna Hazare started a fast on to Death demanding Central Government speed up the process of drafting a LokPal Bill in Parliament as a measure to control and reduce Corruption.He wanted some non-Governmental members in the Panel to draft the LokPal Bill.

The response to the Fast was amazing. Hundreds of people from all walks of life began visiting Jantar Mantar to express support. Social media outlets and TV news channels went on an over drive to mobilise support for Anna Hazare. Most Cities and towns held demonstrations and sit-ins in support of the anti-corruption drive. Reluctant Opposition politicians were also forced to express support for the movement.Jantar Mantar became a must go destinations for Celebrities and God men.Many started calling the place India's Tahrir square.

The Government first tried to defame the movement.Seeing the mass support Anna Hazare was getting Government started negotiating.An attempt to create another Group of Ministers for drafting the Bill was not accepted.By the end of 4 days the Government had to agree to almost all demands of Hazare.

By his fast Anna Hazare ensured that a stronger anti-corruption law will come into effect in India soon,probably with in few months.He also was able to put some of the key campaigners against Corruption in India in the panel to draft the Bill.

So far so good. I thought every one would be happy to see a such a public movement against Corruption.I thought the wise men/women writing newspaper columns,blogs and tweeting will be ecstatic as there is going to be a real big effort to reduce Corruption and prosecute and punish the Corrupt,one of their long standing demand.
Strangely I found most 'wise' men sulking. Whether it was a Right wing columnist or an extreme Left wing one or for that matter even a few Centrist voices, all were in  sulky mood.
Here are some excerpts.

We must now countenance the extra-constitutional authority with which ‘civil society’ representatives like Mr Shanti Bhushan and his son, Mr Prashant Bhushan, who between themselves passionately espouse the cause of mass killers, terrorists  and Maoists  have been vested.

We must also accept that in these terrible and terrifying times those who believe in the Constitution and constitutionalism have been abandoned to the not-so-tender mercies of the practitioners of ‘Gandhian’ blackmail disguised as ‘non-violence
 Journalist close to RSS,Kanchan Gupta in Pioneer

This kind of unison scares me. It reminds me of the happy synchronized calisthenics of the kind that totalitarian regimes love to use to produce the figure of their subjects. And all fascist regimes begin by sounding the tocsin of ‘cleansing’ society of corruption and evil...... Nothing can be more dangerous for democracy. Unrestrained debate and a fealty to accountable processes are the only means by which a democratic culture can sustain itself. The force of violence, whether it is inflicted on others, or on the self, or held out as a performance, can only act coercively. And coercion can never nourish democracy........

Shuddhabrata Sengupta a Left wing Columnist in Kafila

Sometimes a sense of unbridled virtue can also subvert democracy. The agitation by civil society activists over the Jan Lokpal Bill is a reminder of this uncomfortable truth........   the movement behind the Jan Lokpal Bill is crossing the lines of reasonableness. It is premised on an institutional imagination that is at best na├»ve; at worst subversive of representative democracy.

The morality of fasting unto death for a political cause in a constitutional democracy has always been a tricky issue. There is something deeply coercive about fasting unto death........ it amounts to blackmail.                                          
 Pratap Bhanu Mehta in Indian Express     

Anna Hazare and his movement has been called 'fascist',subverting democracy,black mailing the Government etc etc.
Oh........  and I thought that frail old man was just trying the least he can do to reduce Corruption.
Fascist?????   He was leading a most non-violent agitation.
Subversion of Democracy????? He was trying to push the Government to pass a Bill in the most democratic way inside the Parliament.

Black Mail?
 If the Government had credibility and people's support and if it was brave,it should have just ignored the Fast  or arrest Anna Hazare and force feed him as being done for Irom Sharmilla.
What stopped the Government from doing that?
Lack of credibility as UPA is neck deep in corruption scams.
The Govt knew that hundreds of others were ready to carry on the fast.
The fact that an insensitive Government lacking credibility was forced to obey the wishes of vast majority of people reminds us of the famous Fasts of Gandhiji during British regime.You can call it emotional black mail but many a time ordinary citizens of the country is left with only that legitimate weapon to get attention of insensitive Governments.
How can I be sure that vast majority of people supported Hazare?
From the way the movement was attracting supporters in a huge scale increasing hour to hour.
Good Politicians knows the people's mind.Vast majority of them sensing the mood of the people began supporting Hazare. With Assembly elections around the corner the Govt had to back track from earlier position and agree to Hazare's demand.

It was strange to see Commentators from across the political spectrum unite in condemning Hazare using similar words. They all were so critical of status quo,but when someone began an agitation to change it,they became insecure and confused. Most of these 'wise' men and the Government was caught by surprise by Hazare's Fast and the response it got.

Instead of respecting the people's sentiment they are trying to belittle its sincerity and importance. The people's response was  even called  "tele-evangelised pop agitation of Page 3 elite".

Both the Left and Right wing Commentators agreed on the theory that whole agitation was 'stage-managed' by the Government to prevent a real agitation taking roots.This claim of theirs is with no proof  while all the  circumstantial evidence and logical thinking easily allow us to reach the conclusion that it was a spontaneous and genuine movement,the response of which far exceeded the expectations of the organizers.

Is Lokpal Bill the panacea of all evils in the system?

No. It is just a short step of a long journey the country has to take.
As many pointed out the Jan Lokpal Bill has several controversial clauses needing modification.Even if a good law is passed it has to be implemented properly.

More than the Bill,constant Public questioning and pressure on Corrupt officials/politicians can help in cleansing the Polity.The Public sentiment in coming out in large numbers for a peaceful agitation against Corruption augurs well for Indian Society.It gives us hope about future of our Country.

Any movement which brings out ordinarily selfish and inert people out into the streets for a peaceful agitation for the betterment of the Society should always be hailed.