An NGO which represents the 2002 Gujarat riot victims in the Nanavati-Mehta inquiry panel is considering moving court against the state government for destruction of evidence.
This follows Wednesday’s disclosure by state government counsel S.B. Vakil that Gujarat’s IB records of 2002 were destroyed in 2007 according to “standard procedure”.
Lawyer activist Mukul Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) said on Friday that the NGO was mulling legal proceedings because the destroyed documents – relating to telephone and vehicle logbook details and movement diaries – could have helped establish the role of CM Narendra Modi and senior police officials in the carnage.
Vakil’s revelations have also incensed R.B. Shreekumar, who had headed the Gujarat Intelligence Bureau for a brief period in 2002.
The retired Gujarat DGP alleged that the police, while following the “standard procedure” and destroying crucial documents, had overlooked the provisions of the Gujarat Police Manual as well as the Indian Penal Code.
“The police manual clearly states that any document pertaining to a matter under judicial process shall have to be preserved until the completion of the judicial process,” he said, adding that the Supreme Court had been looking into the riots since April 2002, after activist Mallika Sarabhai and the National Human Rights Commission filed a PIL in that connection.
“The Gujarat government has been translating its electoral majority into immunity from legal bindings. This is a dangerous trend,” Shreekumar said. He rued that allegations against the high and mighty of the state polity as well as the police department may never be proved, now that the key documents had been destroyed.
Shreekumar had maintained a diary of his own during his tenure as state intelligence chief and had submitted it before the Nanavati-Mehta panel as well as the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). The diary had the number of key records, but the originals are now destroyed.
Shreekumar observed that the state government had given him a chargesheet for not handing over his semi-official diary when he relinquished his post as the intelligence chief. The chargesheet was later quashed by the Gujarat High Court.
“Had I submitted the diary then, they would have surely destroyed it as well,” he said. The diary forms the basis of Shreekumar’s affidavits, which have significantly embarrassed the state government as they establish the collusion between BJP leaders and the police at the time of the riots.
Vakil’s revelation of destruction of documents has brought more despair for the riot victims, who see it as yet another hurdle in their quest for justice. “The Gujarat government did not submit any of these documents before the SIT. We kept on asking about them for a long time,” said Tanvir, the son of Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was burnt to death in the Gulbarg Society massacre during the riots. Ehsaan’s wife Zakia had filed a complaint before the Supreme Court against Modi and 63 other high-profile BJP leaders and senior policemen after the 2002 carnage.