Former Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari. — File photo

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — While speaking at the launch of a book — ‘The Sarkari Mussalman’ by Lt General (Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, in New Delhi, Mr Hamid Ansari, former vice-President of India, referring to Gujarat riots of 2002 asked why Article 355 of the Constitution was not invoked by the then union government even when its defence minister was on the spot.

Lt General (Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, who had led the Army Division that quelled the Gujarat riots in the state, has narrated his observations of the Gijarat riots being at the helm of military affairs in the book.

The former vice president also said there were “no military solutions to insurgency” as normalcy can be restored only by winning the hearts and minds of people, reports PTI.

“‘The initial reaction of the civil administration was tardy; curfew had been ordered but not enforced; no attempt were made to convene peace committees and attitude of police was partisan’,” Mr Ansari quoted some of the observations from General Shah’s book on the riots.

But, Hamid Ansari observed that the book was silent “about the role of the political leadership”.

“If the civil and police administration fails to respond to a massive failure of law and order, where does the responsibility rest in a democratic and parliamentary system,” he asked.

“Why was Article 355 of the Constitution that makes it a duty of the Union to protect a state against internal disturbance not invoked even when the centre had the benefit of Raksha Mantri on the spot?” he asked, according to report.

Article 355 pertains to ‘duty of the Union to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance’.

The reportage of Gujarat happenings in the national and international media was extensive and even the NHRC took note of it, Mr Ansari said.

“In an interview to a Malayalam weekly in 2005, former president KR Narayanan had revealed his remonstrations with the government and observed, and I quote (Narayanan) — ‘Military was sent but not given the power to shoot. And, there was a conspiracy involving the central and the state government behind the Gujarat riots’,” Hamid Asari said.

The book has kicked up a controversy, alleging that transport and other logistics support “arrived a day later” for the army troops that had landed in Ahmedabad after communal riots broke out in the state.

The book launch ceremony at the India International Centre, New Delhi was also attended by General Shah’s brother and actor Naseeruddin Shah, besides other prominent persons.

(With inputs from PTI)