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ACCUSED: MINISTER IN MODI GOVT

17 Apr 2002

ACCUSED: MINISTER IN MODI GOVT  
    
FROM Sujan Dutta
 
FROM SUJAN DUTTA 
A minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet in Gujarat has been accused of leading mobs that torched and burnt houses in an Ahmedabad locality in complaints lodged with the Ahmedabad police commissioner.

The incidents took place on February 28, the day after the Godhra killings when the VHP called a Gujarat bandh. The bandh call was supported by the BJP.

So far, the allegation against the Modi administration has been that it had tacitly backed the pogrom in the wake of Godhra. But the written complaints lodged with the Ahmedabad police commissioner, if true, will mean that members of the Modi government directly incited the violence.

A total of 13 complaints allege that the Gujarat minister for revenue, Haren Pandya, led mobs in his constituency Ellis Bridge in Ahmedabad. Pandya refutes the charge.

So far, there has been no death in my constituency. So far, there has been not a single FIR against me. (These allegations) are not at all true. You can also ask the police commissioner. Complaints that are not backed by FIRs and police investigations mean little,” Pandya said when asked for his version. He also explained why he would not participate in such violence but requested that part be kept off the record.

The Ahmedabad police commissioner, P.C. Pande, was not available at home, in his office or on his cellphone till late tonight.

Allegations that the police did not accept FIRs naming the perpetrators of violence are further buttressed by these complaints. One complainant has specifically written that he did go to the police station to file an FIR but the police did not accept it.

There are 12 complainants in one incident that occurred around 12.30 pm on February 28. They have filed the complaints separately. Each complaint is dated March 18 and is acknowledged to have been received on April 6.

Here is a gist of the complaint (written in Gujarati): On February 28, 2002, at about 12.30 pm a violent mob gathered near Gandhi Travels. This mob first destroyed Gandhi Travels, then Hotel Aram and then Hotel Hans Inn and burnt them down. Thereafter, the mob came towards Mohlatwad. The mob was carrying deadly weapons like pipes, swords, tridents and containers of inflammable liquid like petrol, diesel, kerosene. Initially, the mob pelted stones at our Mohlatwad residence because of which we fled and took refuge in Vankarvas, just behind Mohlatwad. Shri Amrutbhai and Valjibhai, residents of Vankarvas, saved our lives. The mob looted our households and all the houses were burnt down. We have seen the following persons in the mob: Haren Pandya, MLA, Ellis Bridge, Paldi; Bhadio alias Patel of Kochrab village; Sailesh (cycle parking attendant), Baldev Rabari who lives near Paldi petrol pump, Bholio from Aman Auto, Paldi village, Amrit Travel Wala and others.”

All the 12 complainants were residents of Mohlatwad and are now sheltered in refugee camps.

The second complaint is more specific in that the complainant says he was not allowed to file an FIR. Fazalbhai N. Gandhi, a trader who lived in Tarana Apartments opposite Jethabhai Bus Stand, Narayan Nagar, Paldi, says the incidents occurred between 2 and 6 pm on February 28.

A gist of the complaint: On February 28, as there was a Gujarat bandh, I remained at home. On that day, around 2 pm, a big mob with weapons led by minister Haren Pandya had come. Among those in the mob were the owner of Siddharth Provisions and Rinku Sardarji and their friends from the Shantivana Society (a well-known residential complex in Narayannagar). The mob pelted stones on our flats and also hurled burning rags inside and I could leave only around 5.25 pm. I had gone to Ellis Bridge police station on March 11, 2002, to give a written complaint but they did not record it the way I wanted them to. The police did not want to record the people I was naming. Now that curfew has been lifted, I am making this complaint.”

The complaint is dated March 20, 2002. It was received in the police commissioners office on April 5. Fazalbhai N. Gandhi adds: I had gone to see my flat on March 19 when somebody came and told me your flat has been burnt down; if you come again, you will be burnt too. I also complained about this incident to the deputy commissioner of police on telephone number 3225867 and requested for police protection.”

The Ellis Bridge police station also recorded an FIR on the incidents on March 1, 2002 (C.R. no. 121 of 1/3/2002) but named no names.


The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia was formed in 1993 to combat rising religious intolerance in South Asia and to campaign for peace and justice in the region. We are committed to working towards a just, non-violent resolution of the crisis we are currently living through. If you are interested in joining us in this work, please call 617-983-3934 or e-mail info@alliancesouthasia.org

28 Jul 2007

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