Panel gives clean chit to Modi on Gujarat riots

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - New Delhi: Giving a clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra riots case, the final report of Nanavati-Mehta Commission has held that the riots were not organised and the state administration had taken all necessary measures to control the situation.

“There is no evidence to show that these attacks were either inspired or instigated or abated by Chief Minister Narendra Modi or any minister of the state,” the commission said in its report tabled in the state legislative assembly on Wednesday.

Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeepsinh Jadeja tabled the final part of the report, which runs into over 1,500 pages.

The report deals with riots that took place in 2002 after the burning of two coaches of Sabarmati Express train near Godhra railway station, in which 59 Hindu ‘karsevaks’ (volunteers) were killed. More than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were later killed in communal riots.

The report said the allegations against then chief minister Modi that he went to Godhra to inspect the S6 coach in order to “destroy evidence” were found to be baseless.

The commission also refuted charges against Modi that he visited Godhra without informing anyone.

“The Gujarat state administration had information about Modi’s visit to Godhra,” the commission said.

The report quoted Modi as saying that “I was personally reviewing the situation continuously by holding review meetings of the senior government and police officials responsible for maintaining law and order to ensure that normality is restored.”

The report observed that the local police was ineffective at certain places in the state and lacked competence to control mob violence.

“Besides the ineffectiveness of the police and lack of competence to deal with the situation in some places, there was also lack of eagerness on the part of the police to deal with mobs during 2002 riots,” the report emphasised.

On some incidents of communal riots in Ahmedabad, the Commission observed that the police “did not show competence which was necessary”.

Also it questioned the role of three senior Indian Police Service (IPS) officers — Sanjiv Bhatt, Rahul Sharma and R B Shreekumar. The Commission has recommended inquiry against the erring police officials.

Meanwhile, state Home Minister Jadeja told Al Khaleej Today the report exposed “conspiracy” by Opposition Congress party and certain non governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country to defame Prime Minister Modi globally.

“The commission’s report clarifies all doubts regarding the role of Narendra Modi and his ministers in 2002 riots in the state. It also exposes conspiracy by certain NGOs and Congress to malign Modi’s image in the world,” Jadeja said.

He said NGOs such as ‘Jan Sangharsh Manch’ and ‘Citizen for Justice and Peace’ were mainly behind the “conspiracy” to defame Modi.

Although Congress did not immediately react to the findings of the report, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ramesh Gupta wondered what took the state administration so long to table the report.

“The two-member inquiry commission submitted its final report in 2014 to then Chief Minister Anandiben Patel. The state government withheld it since then. In September this year, the government, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), submitted in Gujarat High Court that it would table the report in the next assembly session. The government must explain why it sat over it,” Gupta told Al Khaleej Today.

Inquiry panel

The Nanavati-Mehta panel, comprising retired Justices G T Nanavati and Akshay Mehta, was appointed in 2002 by then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in order to probe the 2002 communal riots in the state.

The panel was originally given six months to conduct the inquiry and submit report. However, the first part of the report was submitted in 2009 after several extensions.

The first part was tabled in the Gujarat legislative assembly in 2009. The commission submitted the final part of the report to the Gujarat government on November 18, 2014. Notably, the first part also gave clean chit to Modi.

Earlier in 2012, Modi was cleared of complicity in the mob violence by Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the apex Supreme Court. The SIT also rejected claims that the state

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