Skip to main content

No evidence anyone in Gujarat showed remorse during post-Godhra riots

By Rajiv Shah 
Former Gujarat DGP PGJ Nampoothari, who was emissary of the National Human Rights Commission during the Gujarat riots, monitoring the aftermath of the tragedy which befell the state in 2002, says that there’s nothing to suggest that the state administration acted in an impartial way during the riots.
He is a retired top cop, who is better known as a human rights activist. Indeed, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi wasn’t quite off the mark when he privately remarked with a sense of prerplexity about him to a senior IPS officer, “Who doesn’t know PGJ Nampoothiri?” Ex-director general of police (DGP) of Gujarat, who first attracted attention during his intensive investigations as CBI officer into the Harshad Mehta security scam in the early 1990s, Nampoothiri shot into fame as special rapporteur of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) following the Gujarat riots.
Between 2002 and 2007, Nampoothiri monitored and reported to the NHRC the manner in which the Gujarat riots were being investigated by a complacent state administration. He was also privy, first-hand, to the hurdles put up by the state administration in order to ensure that the riots accused went scot free.
“The remorse sought to be expressed by the Gujarat chief minister in a recent blog on the 2002 Gujarat riots is eyewash, and I can vouch for it”, he says, even as he seeks to relate one incident after another on the way the cases were handled. “The administration under Modi tried its level best to ensure that the riot cases never reached their logical conclusion. The political establishment sought to influence the police administration in every possible way”, he comments.
“Privately all cops admitted to me deliberate government complacency. But no top-cop dared speak out in the open, such was the fear. Senior IPS officers didn’t want them to be seen with me, lest they would be blacklisted. Efforts were made to compromise me. A top Modi emissary approached me, asking me to leave the NHRC job and work for Modi as advisor to put the state police in order”, a soft spoken Nompoothiri points out during an informal chat on a sunny Ahmedabad afternoon.
Aged 74, unassuming and straightforward, Nampoothiri, who retired from the IPS in 1998, and took over as NHRC rapporteur, an honorary job which he continued to hold on till 2007, it was the post-riots phase which seemed to agitate him. Currently living a retired life in his home state, Kerala, he was in Ahmedabad to chair a college seminar on child rights. “I’d thought I will not speak on anything but child rights here”, he says, smiling, with a copy of full text of the Modi blog, “Satyamev Jayate… Truth Alone Triumphs”, in his hand.
Written a day after an Ahmedabad metropolitan court declared that “there wasn’t enough evidence” to persecute Modi for his alleged participation in the riots, Nompoothiri decided to dish several instances to suggest how there wasn’t an iota of evidence, either, of repentance during or after the riots. “Grief, sadness, misery, pain, anguish, agony — mere words could not capture the absolute emptiness one felt on witnessing such inhumanity,” Modi wrote on December 27, 2013, terming the riots “mindless violence” for the first time in his life.
Namoothiri joined NHRC as special rapporteur in 1998 along with Gagan Sethi, a senior human rights activist, who heads the NGO Centre for Social Justice, Ahmedadad. “The administrative indifference towards the rioters was visible even during the early days of the riots”, Nampoothiri says. “NHRC chairperson justice JS Verma had come to Ahmedabad for an on-the-spot inquiry about the riots, and he was to go to Vadodara. He was already late, and suddenly, dozen-odd Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists appeared from nowhere. They created ruckus, banged at his car, yet tens of cops present there didn’t care to intervene. The driver was intelligent, and whisked us away. Justice Verma had his first-hand experience of the way the administration was behaving.”
Justice Verma went to Vadodara and Godhra. During his trip, he met Bilkis Bano at a refugee camp. She was one of the 35 persons who were attacked by rioters, leading to the death of 14. Pregnant, Bilkis was gangraped, and was abandoned – the rioters had assumed she was dead. During the interaction with Justice Verma, she named the persons who were responsible for the killings.
“The district administration appeared to be quite cooperative. It assured us of all the help. However, within six months I found, from my own sources, that the police had filed A Final report, meaning there wasn’t any evidence against the accused. The police report even said Bilkis had named some ‘reputed persons’, whose credentials could not be doubted! It was on NHRC’s intervention that the matter went to the CBI, something that the state administration tried its best to prevent by asking the local CID to investigate”, Nampoothiri says.
“The CID seemed to show such great eagerness that an official phoned me up early in the morning at 2.00 to arrange Bilkis to be taken the spot of the incident! Bilkis was rumoured to be in UP, and the CID fellows thought I knew Bilkis’ whereabouts. But for the NHRC’s decision to approach the Supreme Court, which ordered to take the case out of Gujarat, the guilty wouldn’t have been punished a decade later. The CBI did such a thorough job. It even named the state cops shielding the rioters”, he adds.
Suggesting that each of the two-dozen-odd reports he and Sethi submitted to the NHRC on the way the riots cases were being handled in Gujarat showed some or other administrative complacency, Nampoothiri insists, “Whether it was Bilkis Bano or Zahira Sheikh or other cases, the state government tried to see that none of the NHRC recommendations were implemented. I observed, non-cooperation with the NHRC remained hallmark of its behaviour till I was associated with it (2007).” He adds, “In case the the state government had followed NHRC at every step, the intensity of the riots would have reduced considerably.”
Concluding, Nampoothiri recalls, “The harried decision of the Gujarat government to appoint an inquiry commission to look into reasons behind the riots in March 2002 was itself meant to preempt the NHRC’s intervention. The administration supported those who organized dharnas and demonstrations against the NHRC. It remained indifferent when the NHRC’s effigies were burnt. Modi wanted to start his Gaurav Yatra to ‘celebrate’ the aura that he had built around himself during the riots as Hindu Hriday Samrat two months before he actually kicked it off in September 2002. He couldn’t do it only because of the NHRC’s intervention. I wonder if he was ever pained by the riots.”

Comments

TRENDING

Zakir Naik tumult, Catholic Church power abuse: will Anwar Ibrahim save Malaysia?

Anwar Ibrahim By Jay Ihsan*  Anwar Ibrahim, a hardcore reformist who took a punch to his eye in 1998 from then inspector-general of police, Rahim Noor, has finally been given the mandate by Malaysians to serve as the nation's 10th prime minister. Anwar knows too well the burden of staying true to both trust and faith the people have in him requires every once of commitment and dedication. The question is will he be apologetic for his transgressions enroute to "rebuilding" Malaysia? In his overzealousness to get the job done, Anwar, 75, needs to safeguard every bit of gumption to address prickling issues plaguing the safety of the nation especially those involving communal sensitivities. For one, dare Anwar get rid of terrorist hate preacher and fugitive Zakir Naik for inciting religious unrest in Malaysia? In November 2016, India’s counter-terrorism agency filed an official complaint against Naik, holding him responsible for promoting religious hatred and unlawful activi

Although sporting genius, Wasim Akram was mascot of cricket globalisation era

By Harsh Thakor*  Since Independence India and Pakistan produced a galaxy of cricketing stars that permeated cricketing artistry of legendary heights. Amongst this bunch.Wasim Akram manifested pure cricketing genius to the greatest height.I speculate how India’s fortunes would have changed had partition not taken place and Wasim playing for India. Wasim Akram explored realms untranscended in bowling wizardry, like a painter devising new art forms or a scientist experimenting. He simply re-defined the art of reverse swing, reversing the ball in and out. There were bowlers quicker, more accurate and with better records, but none equalled Wasim in an all-round package. He was more lethal with a new and old ball than any fast bowler ever. Wasim could produce balls that were surreal, with his reverse swing, defying laws of bio mechanics He was simply the epitome of versatility, possessing a repertoire of six different deliveries within an over itself, disguising deliveries in the manner of

Alarming US data on child mental health: Wake-up call to end social malaise

By Bharat Dogra  If 1 out of 2 high school girls feel persistently sad or hopeless and one out of six students plan suicide in a year, isn’t it time for a society so affected to look inwards at what has gone wrong, so that at least, and as a first step, the causes of such a dismal state of affairs can be identified correctly? After all, effective remedial action depends first and foremost on a proper identification of causes. This is all the more necessary in a situation when, as this alarming official data for year 2019 for USA tells us, in addition there is an incredibly high rate of increase of these problems. According to the data of the  (the latest such data available at present and also quoted by the USA Surgeon General in the advisory issued by him in 2021), in 2019 37% of all high school students and half of female students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. What is more, within a decade (2009-2019), this had recorded a 40% increasing, rising from 26% to

Floods: As ax falls on most vulnerable, Pak seeks debt cancellation, climate justice

By Tanupriya Singh  Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.  Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told Reuters. By the first week of September, pleas for h

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in. Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across th

Why foreign diplomats must maintain diplomatic etiquette, protocol in Bangladesh

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder*  Foreign governments and organizations are not allowed to dictate how a sovereign country like Bangladesh should run its politics. The 12th national parliamentary elections are drawing near, and the election wind has started to blow in Dhaka. The political parties have already begun to plan their voting strategy through a variety of events. However, this time, the diplomatic community in Dhaka is very active. A number of Western ambassadors frequently meet with government departments, political party representatives, the Election Commission (EC), and members of civil society in Dhaka. At numerous forums, they discuss upcoming elections' management, fairness, and impartiality -- issues that are unquestionably domestic to Bangladesh and in no way fall under the purview of diplomacy. Additionally, it has been noted that diplomats have made public remarks on these subjects in front of the media. It raises the question of how much authority diplomatic protocol h

Bangladesh's ties with Myanmar, Nepal, China need connectivity with India's NE states

By Samara Ashrat*  On 26th November, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India is trying to improve trade and connectivity with Bangladesh and Myanmar on his two-day visit to India's Northeast region. He emphasized the importance of linking Northeastern India to the rest of the nation and reiterated Delhi is working to improve connectivity and infrastructure in the region. By taking the G20 presidency India will try to showcase the true spirit of the Northeast to the world, with its tourism benefits. But, the umbilical cord between the Indian mainland and North Eastern Region is Chicken's Neck or Siliguri corridor which brings Bangladesh into the Indian equation of northeastern development. Not only that, Bangladesh has very close relations with West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura in terms of language, culture, and history. These factors make Bangladesh an inextricable element of the development of the northeastern states. Tourism Sector and Con

25 years of CHT peace accord: A glorious chapter of conflict resolution in Bangladesh

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder*  Conflicts between the Bangladesh army and Shanti Bahini persisted in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for more than two decades. On December 2, 1997, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the Bangladeshi government signed the CHT Accord, putting an end to the violent armed conflict and improving the life of a lot of the people there. It has been made possible through just seven meetings under the worthy leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The historic peace agreement created an atmosphere of peace in the mountainous region. An atmosphere of peace has been established by ending the armed conflict. The geographical features and ethnic diversity of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are distinctive. The 13,184 square kilometer territory is bordered by Myanmar and the Indian state of Mizoram on the East and Tripura on the North. With its 1.6 million people, it entails great importance to Bangladesh for its geopolitical location. Due to the conflict-prone Northeast Indi

A classic, 'Gandhi' ignores merciless cruelty unleashed on militant freedom fighters

By Harsh Thakor  The movie ‘Gandhi’ produced by Richard Attenborough, which was released 40 years ago on November 30th, 1982, was classic in it's own right. Ironical that it took an Englishman to embark upon the making of a film on this legendary figure. I can't visualize a better pictorial portrayal of Gandhi's life or an actor getting in the skin of the character an exuding the mannerisms as actor Ben Kingsley. Episodes are crafted and grafted surgically, illustrating how Gandhi wove fragmented bits into a cohesive force, to confront he British empire. Most boldly the movie unfolds how British colonialism subjugated the Indian people to barbaric cruelty. With great mastery the cinematography captures the vast Indian landscapes and essence of livelihood of Indians under colonial rule. The movie most illustratively shows the crystallisation of anti-colonial fervour from the embryonic stage and how it fermented into an integrated movement. In a most subtle manner it illustr