A senior police officer, who has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court implicating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots in the wake of the Godhra train burning, says he will not backtrack from his statement despite any pressure.
Bhatt said in his affidavit that Modi had said that Hindus should be allowed to vent their “anger” after the death of 59 kar sevaks when two bogies of the Sabramati Express were set afire Feb 27, 2002. He also expressed his doubts about the neutrality of the Special Investigative Team (SIT) probing the violence that followed and which claimed over 1,000 lives.
Answering a question by CNN-IBN Friday on pressure on him to withdraw his testimony, Bhatt said: “I have never backed out from saying the truth anywhere, anytime in my life.” He said that any kind of pressure would only make him more determined. “Instead of worrying me, this kind of subversion makes me more resolute because all I am doing is stating the truth. I am stating what I know,” said Bhatt, a 1988 batch Indian Police Service officer.
He added that he had not publicly disclosed the information earlier as he was governed by conduct rules. “I was privy to a whole lot of information as an intelligence officer. So I can only disclose if I was under a legal consideration and not before that,” he said, pointing out that he had covered all these points in his testimony to SIT.
In 2002, Bhatt was based in Gandhinagar as deputy commissioner of intelligence in the State Intelligence Bureau. He is now posted as principal of the State Reserve Police Centre in Junagarh.
Bhatt said there was no question of his leaving the police force. “Not at all. I have 13 more years to go.” Bhatt added that concerns of safety of his family had been raised in his affidavit. He said that he had asked the state police to upgrade his security, but this was ignored – rather, his current security detail was also withdrawn.
Bhatt, in his affidavit, said: “The chief minister expressed the view that the emotions were running very high among the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent out their anger.”
“This time the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again,” Bhatt quoted the chief minister as saying when a section of officers told him that bringing the bodies of the train burning victims to Ahmedabad from Godhra would only inflame passions.