Former Gujarat top cop Sreekumar seeks security for Sanjiv Bhatt

Former Gujarat additional director general of police R.B. Sreekumar has urged the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to provide security to senior police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has filed an affidavit implicating Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots.

In a letter addressed to SIT chief R.K. Raghavan, with copies to the registrar general of the apex court, the chairman of the NHRC and the director general of Gujarat Police, Sreekumar has said that Bhatt’s affidavit contains vital evidence incriminating and damaging to Modi in relation to the meeting chaired by him on Feb 27, 2002 evening in which instructions violative of the letter, spirit and ethos of the Constitution were reportedly given.

Bhatt is currently DIG at the state Reserve Police Training College in Junagadh. Earlier, a former state minister, Haren Pandya, who submitted similar information to the Citizens Tribunal, headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, had been assassinated in suspicious circumstances. “It is learnt that police protection provided to Bhatt has been withdrawn recently, without assigning any reason. He and his family should be provided with adequate and effective security cover, after proper and comprehensive threat assessment urgently,” the letter states.

Sreekumar has stated that Bhatt, who served the State Intelligence Bureau, during his tenure as Additional Director General of Police, (ADGP) Intelligence from April 9, 2002 to Sep 18, 2002 was quite successful in collecting many advance intelligence inputs on the communal situation in those disturbed days in Gujarat, and disseminating these to concerned persons.

“I had even appended copies of 12 such reports in my First Affidavit to the Justice Nanavati judicial inquiry commission on July 15, 2002, and 2 in my Second Affidavit to the Commission on Oct 6, 2004. Bhatt was transferred untimely out of the Intelligence Bureau on Sep 18, 2002 along with me, reportedly for submitting a report, to the state government, on a controversial speech with communal overtones delivered by Modi in Mehsana district, during his Gaurav Yatra in the first week of September 2002,” it states.

Sreekumar, in his letter, has expressed the apprehension that activists of the Sangh Parivar and over-zealous fans of Modi are likely to nurture severe ill-will and hatred against the IPS officer for revealing information adversely affecting the chief minister’s image and therefore the urgent need for security for Bhatt and his family.

Bhatt, in his affidavit, says that Modi, in his Feb 27, 2002 meeting after the Godhra train burning in which 59 Kar Sevaks were killed, told officials: “This time the situation warrants that the Muslims be taught a lesson to ensure that such incidents do not recur ever again.”

“The chief minister expressed the view that emotions were running very high among the Hindus and it was imperative that they be allowed to vent their anger,” said the affidavit, made available to the media.

Court seeks details on boat hijacked by 26/11 terrorists

The Bombay High Court Monday sought details about the probe relating to the fishing vessel ‘Kuber’ which was used by the 10 Pakistani terrorists to sail to Mumbai and carry out the Nov 26, 2008 terror attacks.

A division bench comprising Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R.V. More sought the details from government counsel Ujjwal Nikam while continuing the hearings in the confirmation of the death sentence awarded to the sole surviving terrorist, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.

‘We want to be very sure and clear because there is some confusion in our mind. This is a crucial aspect, even the trial judge has discarded the evidence of this panch witness,’ Justice Desai observed, calling upon the prosecution to provide all the details by Tuesday.

Nikam stressed in his arguments that Kasab had confessed to slitting the throat of Amar Sinh Solanki, the navigator of ‘Kuber’ and keeping his body in the cabin.

He informed the court that the Indian Coast Guard had sighted ‘Kuber’ in the Arabian Sea the following day (Nov 27, 2008, a day after the terrorists arrived), at 1640 hours.

Later it was brought to Sasoon Dock in south Mumbai and a ‘panchnama’ of the vessel corroborated with Kasab’s subsequent statement.

Nikam said the trial court judge had discarded the panch evidence after observing that the prosecution had failed to prove that ‘Kuber’ was not tampered with after it was anchored at Sasoon Dock.

The high court then wanted to know that since the trial court judge had disbelieved the ‘panch’ evidence, then what did he say about the recovery of cellphones, satellite phones from ‘Kuber’ as the prosecution had connected all this to the main attacks conspiracy.

The matter will continue further in the Bombay High Court Tuesday.

On May 6, Kasab was awarded the death penalty for murdering 166 people during the 26/11 attack, and is presently lodged in the high-security Arthur Road prison.

Metro accident victim moves court, seeks Rs.50 lakh relief

Twentytwo-year-old Mehjabi who lost her legs in a freak accident at a Metro station in March moved the Delhi High Court Thursday seeking a compensation of Rs.50 lakh from Delhi Metro and a government job.

In her petition, she demanded that the safety standards at Metro stations be improved.

Hearing the petition, Justice S. Muralidhar asked the Delhi Metro to file its reply by Jan 12, 2011.

Through her petition, she asked the court to pass directions to the Delhi Metro to provide a 24-hour ambulance service at busy stations and at all stations during the rush hour. She also demanded a government job.

‘Security personnel should be deployed at all stations to manage the surging crowds. The customer service staff and other personnel should be trained to deal with situations of emergency – a common feature of major metro stations across the globe,’ she said in her petition.

The Delhi Metro must install emergency help buttons which can be activated to report disturbances and to summon help during an emergency, said the petition.

She also said that the Delhi Metro must appoint a 24×7 doctor at the busiest metro stations to assist the needy in times of emergency.

‘The Metro must be directed to install passenger alarms at eye-level in carriages near the double doors and talk back facilities built into these alarms so that passengers can explain to trained staff the problem faced. Also adequate number of CCTV cameras must be installed,’ the petition said.

The petition said that the Delhi Metro must start a safety course for its employees so that that they are equipped with the necessary skills to deal with an accident.

‘Emergency stop plungers should be installed which can be used to stop an approaching train from entering the station. If the train is already at the platform, it will be prevented from moving off,’ said the petition.

In her petition, she alleged that the Metro employees who rescued her were not trained to handle a case of emergency.

‘The Metro employees who went to check on the petitioner (after she came under a train) were neither trained in the administration of first aid nor did they offer medication to stop bleeding,’ it said.

The 22-year-old was doing her journalism course in her hometown Dehradun, and was close to landing a job with a news agency when the incident occurred.

She received artificial limbs free of cost in May from an NGO.

Court seeks exact figure on below poverty line families

Apparently not convinced with the official data, the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the government to come up with a ‘reasonable number’ on people living below poverty line (BPL).

The court said this after the government claimed that there were 5.9 crore BPL families in the country.

A reasonable number on BPL families would help take care of the twin problem of providing food grains to the poor and storage of food grains in warehouses, said an apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma.

The figures on BPL families placed before it by petitioner People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) were ‘startling’, the court observed.

The court said that all the calculations of the BPL families were based on 2001 census.

During the last 10 years, they must have expanded and grown, the court told Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran indicating it was much better to distribute food grains to poor than letting it rot.

The court said that as it is the vagaries of weather and other factors were damaging the stored food grains and from Oct 1, the government has started procurement of kharif crop.

‘The government may consider (the option of revising the BPL families’ figures) on its own,’ Justice Bhandari told Parasaran.

Parasaran admitted that there were differences in the central government’s and states’ parameters for identifying the BPL families. It was because of the differences in criteria that the states were quoting a higher figure on BPL families as compared to the central government, the ASG said.

The court also asked Parasaran on what basis the central government had arrived at the figure of 5.9 crore families under the BPL category.

‘You have come to the conclusion on what basis? Have you conducted an empirical survey,’ asked the court.

Arguing for the PUCL, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves said that even the Planning Commission member Arjun Sengupta did not agree with the parameters adopted by the commission in identifying the BPL families.

The court was told that Sengupta said that the number of BPL families was much more than the figures given by the government. He said that it was nothing but fudging of figures.

The senior counsel told the court that the government was trying to reduce the number of families in the BPL category by lowering the per capita income figure that determines whether a family is poor or not.

After the conclusion of pleadings by the PUCL and the central government, the court Tuesday commenced the hearing on the submissions by state governments. The hearing would continue Thursday.