Gujarat’s senior IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt told the Nanavati-Mehta commission that he could name other witnesses who would vouchsafe his presence at a crucial meeting called by Chief Minister Narendra Modi Feb 27,2002 in addition to the names he mentioned in his affidavit made before the Supreme Court.
“I will give the names of the witnesses only when asked by the Supreme Court since the issue was pending before the apex court”, he said in his disposition before the judicial enquiry committee probing the 2002 riots.
Bhatt, who stated that at the meeting Modi had not only “directed” top police officers to “allow the Hindus to vent their anger”, but also failed to issue any instruction even in the two subsequent meetings held on the next day.
The meeting was held at the chief minister’s residence Feb 27, 2002 evening after the train carnage at the Godhra railway station early in the morning that left 58 people dead.
Bhatt was emphatic that he had attended all three meetings.
“The chief minister had called two meetings on February 28, the day of the bandh call, one in the forenoon and the other in late afternoon and I had attended both the meetings in the company of my superior, the additional director general of police and state intelligence chief G.C. Raigar.”
He claimed that by the time the second meeting was held, the intelligence department had “real-time information” about the mob build-up and the tense situation in the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad.
Bhtt said that he had personally informed the chief minister about the build-up in Gulberg Society, the threat to the residents there, including to the former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, and the “complete police inaction” across the city.
But the chief minister did not give any instruction for protective action, Bhatt said.
He also claimed that the state director general of police (DGP), K. Chakravarthi, was present when he informed the chief minister about the situation in Gulberg.
Referring to the Feb 27 meeting, Bhatt stated that both the then state DGP and the Ahmedabad police commissioner, P.C. Pande, tried to convince the chief minister about the inherent dangers in the BJP supporting the Viswa Hindu Parishad’s protest bandh call given for the next day as it would amount to the government supporting it.
Similarly the two top officers also tried to dissuade the chief minister from bringing the bodies of the train carnage victims from Godhra to Ahmedabad and from taking out the funeral procession with the bodies.
Pande even told the chief minister that this could lead to an incendiary situation, Bhatt said.
He added that he had also briefed the chief minister about the large scale mobilisation by the Sangh Parivar even in interior areas and the possibility of large scale violence.
The chief minister was also briefed about the paucity of police force to deal with the situation emerging out of such a course of action, Bhatt said.
Bhatt Monday moved an application seeking directions to authorities to allow him access to requisite and relevant information, records and documents of the state control room and the Intelligence Bureau, and the offices of the director general and inspector general of police for the period from Feb-Sept 17, 2002.