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Teesta Setalvad – Courage and Cowardice

 teesta
The sign of a person of some conviction is to face adversity head on, answer hostile questions and give her/his point of view. On all issues especially contentitious ones. But in the season of this election, where market forces and corporate finances are dominating even the slant of discussions on major news channels and newspapers, hard interviews are only available when the protagonist is say a Rahul Gandhi even though he may have not been as well prepared as he should have been (Times Now).
Anyway coming back to the issue of the week. If the smaller, lesser known channels have bought into and telecast an interview with the ‘Man who would be PM ‘ over the past two days,  the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court conducted a similarly pliant interview with the strongman in 2010 though it tried to make out four years ago, that the nine hour long interview had the protagonist sweating. As the pliant questions and evasive answers below show, much more likely it had the IO of the SIT, AK Malhotra, trembling.
The interview took place on 27/28.3.2010 at the SIT office in Gandhinagar. It is the first time that a sitting chief minister has been interrogated for his role in mass crimes of a heinous nature that happened under his watch. Remember also that the man who would be PM has been Home minister of Gujarat since October 2001.
 and despite the fact that I, as co-complainant with Mrs Zakia Jafri in the Supreme Court (SLP 1088/2008) had provided the SIT with valuable evidence, the SIT tiptoes around it, and avoided it.  This issue has been detailed by us in the Protest Petition before the Magistrate (which he rejected on 26-3-2013) and has been stressed in detail in our appeal now to be heard on April 11, 2014 in the Gujarat High court.
Malhotra , SIT (Question) 41: Please see a copy of the DO letter dated 22.04.2002, addressed by Shri P. C. Pande, the then CP, and Ahmedabad City with a copy to DGP and Addl. DG (Intelligence) about the undesirable activities of Sang Parivar, activists. Was this letter brought to your notice? If so, what was the action taken by you in the matter?
Ans (Man who would be PM). In this connection, it is stated that I do not remember now, whether this issue was brought to my notice or not. But, it
has been my and my Government’s approach right from the first day, that a
culprit is a culprit irrespective of his caste,creed, religion or socio political
background, as nobody is above law.
(The SIT IO Malhotra , deliberately does not probe further showing him that the letter (submitted by me to SIT) from PC Pande to then DGP Chakravarthi and ACS Home Ashok Narayan (who worked directly under the Man who would be PM) speaks of the fact that a Minister in the state cabinet Bharat Barot was, as late as April 2002 (i.e. a month after the first outburst of violence) moving around with the police in the Dilli Darwaza area of the old city of Ahmedabad and forcibly terrorizing small vendors and businessmen of the minority community and extorting monies from them).
SIT leaves out the inconvenient questions. A-1, the Man who would be PM, is not questioned on the Controversial Phone Calls from Mobiles Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) to another fellow accused, Jaideep Patel) from the VHP despite Evidence being available in the Phone Call Records Analysis provided in raw data form by Rahul Sharma, DCP Crime Branch (2002) when he produced the CD before the Nanavati-Shah Commission in 2004 and thereafter accessed by Citizens for Justice and Peace and analysed by us. We had placed this data before the SIT and the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
Q.56.(Malhotra) Did you ever use the mobile phones of your personal staff, namely Shri Anil Mukim, the then Addl. PS to CM, Shri Tanmay Mehta, PA to CM, Shri Sanjay Bhavsar, OSD and Shri O.P. Singh, PA to CM?
A (MAN who would be PM) : Telephones are installed at my residence as well as my office Whenever, I go out, telephones are available to me. I have never used the mobile phones of my personal staff at headquarters. There was a mobile phone allotted to me in the year 2002, but I rarely used the same I do not recollect its number.
(SIT was in possession of the following evidence provided by us:  After the Man who would be PM first received the fax message from Jayanti Ravi,
Collector/DM about the provocative behavior of kar sevaks leading to an altercation between those travelling in  the train and vendors who happened to be Muslims, at the Godhra railway station and the tragedy of the Godhra train burning took place, two telephone calls were made by him, the Man who would be PM. These were not made to top officials of the police or bureaucracy. But the Man who would be PM made these calls to Jaideep Patel (A-21), General Secretary of the VHP from the Mobile: 0982503743909825037439 belonging to the PA of the chief minister, AP Patel. Ironically, but not insignificantly, the PA’s (A.P. Patel) statement is the only one that the SIT has conspicuously avoided recording,. Statements of
five other officials from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) have been recorded.
Another PA, O.P. Singh, PA to chief minister, has had his statements recorded by the SIT twice on 9.11.2009 &  25.3.2011. In his reply to the SIT,
OP Singh clearly says that CM would regularly use his phone when he was out. To quote, “….Sometimes when the CM is out ….and is staying overnight and the calls are received on my mobile phone, I hand over the same to the CM after ascertaining his willingness to talk. Normally the CM talks over my mobile phone only when there is an extreme urgency.” The tragedy at Godhra was clearly one such where the Man who would be PM immediately sought out hardliners of the Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) rather than policemen and officials after he first heard the news.
One more example of the SIT’s pliant approach:-
Q.57. Whether Jaydeep Patel, Babu Bajrangi and Dr. Mayaben Kodnani,
MLA were in touch with you during the riots from 28-2-2002 onwards?
Ans. I came to know Babu Bajrangi through media reports and he is
not known to me. Dr. Mayaben Kodnani is a MLA from BJP and used
to meet me Jaydeep Patel is a VHP leader, who is also known to me. As far
as I recollect, they never contacted me over phone during the riots.
In the analysis of phone records submitted by us to the SIT, there is a detailed analysis of the landline numbers of the chief minister.
Though the SIT had this evidence no harsh questions were put to the Man who would be Prime Minister. What was the evidence the SIT was in possession of ? That there were barely seven phone calls in toto on 27.2.2002 and 28.2.2002 on the seven residential and office landlines of the chief minister, A-1 Modi is not
questioned on this serious lapse given the fact that the state had been in
turmoil, Ahmedabad and its environs burning and the chief minister is not contacted by irate residents at all. How could a political head
of state records such few phone calls?  On those two days. Ahsan Jafri also kept contacting the Gandhinagar offices of the government, including the chief minister. The SIT not only does not question the Man who would be PM on this but does not even attempt to seize the phone records of the chief minister’s residence and office that should/could have been made available to a Special Investigation Team appointed by no less than the Supreme Court of India.
Post Script: Of the 7 calls received by the Man who would be PM on his landline one is from VJP strongman, Jaideep Patel is one of them.
The crux of our allegations of Conspiracy (already laid out as several warnings of the State Intelligence Bureau of communal build up by the VHP/Bajrang Dal and RSS cadres were being ignored by the state home department) began when the Man who would be PM spoke to Jaideep Patel immediately on hearing of the Godhra tragedy on the morning of 27.2.2002, dispatched him to Godhra, instead of instructing the police and bureaucratic machinery about the fall out and repercussions of the incident
and directing precautionary and preventive steps. Then the conspiracy went further as post mortems of the unfortunate dead were allowed out in the open, even with Jaideep Patel and later in the afternoon/evening the Man who would be PM, present. The final act of illegality was the decision taken at the every highest level of government, at the Circuit house in Godhra to hand over the bodies of the dead to none less than the same Jaideep Patel, a man who belongs to the VHP, even though many of them were unidentified. This amounted to not merely direct interference in the criminal case lodged by the railway police. It also set the stage for furthering of the cynical conspiracy to, in the words of the Concerned CitizensTribunal headed by Justice VR Krishna Iyer, PB Sawant and Hosbet Suresh. To quote from Volume II of the Tribunal Report,Crimes Against Humanity (  http://www.sabrang.com/tribunal/vol2/compgovt.html ) “ It was the chief minister who decided that the charred, unidentifiable dead bodies be taken from Godhra to Ahmedabad in a motor cavalcade. As the cavalcade headed for Ahmedabad, senior members of his party and organisations affiliated to it shouted slogans and incited mobs to retaliate. The CM’s role in condoning this behaviour, and in using official machinery to propagate the unsubstantiated view that the Godhra tragedy was a sinister conspiracy, is condemnable. Thus, it was the chief minister who was primarily responsible for the spread of violence, post-Godhra, in the rest of Gujarat.”
These questions have so far not been put to the Man who would be PM. Neither by any Investigating Agency nor any intrepid person from the Media.

 

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