A senior police officer`s sworn statement to India`s Supreme Court alleges the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi deliberately allowed anti-Muslim riots in the state.
A senior officer of the state police, Sanjiv Bhatt, in an affidavit submitted to the Supreme Court told NDTV that on Feb 27, 2002, just after the Godhra train burning, Modi in a meeting with senior lawmen gave the direction.
"Modi in the meeting ordered, 'Muslims be taught a lesson," Bhatt alleged.
Bhatt was posted in the Intelligence Department when the India's worst communal riot, since the partition, killed 1,200 people across Gujarat.
Citing the reason behind his coming to the Supreme Court, the officer said he had no faith left in the Special Investigation Team (SIT). He rather accused the probe body of trying to protect the Gujarat government and hiding the truth and not working to bring in the limelight the conspiracy behind the Godhra riots.
It was the Supreme Court which constituted the agency to probe the case.
Bhatt said he had given testimony to the SIT in 2009 and last month. "In 2009, I was summoned by the SIT and then I disclosed what I knew," he said.
He also has complained to the Supreme Court that the SIT leaked his testimony to the Gujarat government and that he "is now worried about his security" and wants police protection for his family and himself.
Modi was interrogated on two consecutive days in March last year by the SIT, when he claimed that Bhatt was not present at the meeting in question. The other policemen who reportedly attended the meeting also backed Modi's version of events.
Bhatt, however, blamed that senior police officials blindly followed Modi's instructions during the 2002 turmoil.
The senior police officer alleges: "Modi further impressed upon the gathering that for too long the Gujarat police had been following the principle of balancing the actions against Hindus and Muslims while dealing with communal riots in Gujarat. This time the situation warranted that 'the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again'."
The chief minister expressed the view that the emotions were running very high amongst the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to 'vent out their anger'."
Bhatt claims that Modi was advised at the meeting that getting the bodies of Godhra victims to Ahmedabad and the BJP's support to a VHP call for bandh would lead to communal riots in the city and across the state and that the Gujarat police did not have the manpower resources to deal with such a situation.
But Modi, Bhatt claims in his affidavit, was adamant that his party had decided to support the bandh call "as incidents like the burning of karsevaks in Godhra could not be tolerated."
The senior police officer says that the "effect of these directions given by the chief minister were widely manifested in the half-hearted approach and the evident lack of determination on the part of the police while dealing with widespread incidents of orchestrated violence during the state-sponsored Gujarat bandh on Feb 28, 2002 and also during the weeks that followed."
Modi last year had denied that he was complicit in any way in the riots, or that he ordered policemen to ignore appeals for help from those being targeted in the riots.