New Delhi, Oct 10 : The revelations made by Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah (retd) about the deployment of Army during the 2002 Gujarat riots “corroborates what we have been saying”, Teesta Setalvad, the co-petitioner seeking a criminal trial of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 other politicians and government officials for alleged “complicity” in the riots, said on Wednesday.
“The account by Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah (retired) corroborates what we have been saying in the Zakia Jafri Case (still pending in the courts) since 2006,” the 56-year-old civil rights activist told IANS in an email.
She said that at the time of filing the complaint, on August 8, 2006, they had detailed “ground reports from the Gujarat state police”, which included affidavits of police officers and home department records.
She further said that all the investigation papers, 24,000 pages of records, were quoted in the Protest Petition filed before a Magistrate on April 15, 2013. “Now we have his (Shah’s) account,” she said.
“SIT (Special Investigative Team) headed by R K Raghavan (today Ambassador to Cyprus) was a travesty of an investigation. It disregarded hard, contemporary documentary evidence.
“Despite statements of Zakia Ahsan Jafri and myself (as co-petitioners) recorded in 2009, they did not record Zameer Uddin Shah’s statement. Why not? Now it is left to the Courts of India to decide,” she said.
The SIT Enquiry Report was submitted in the case of Zakia Jafri and Anr. VS State of Gujarat and Ors. Of the 30 allegations made by Zakia Jafri, widow of late Congress legislator Ehsan Jafri — who was killed in a mob attack in Gulbarg Housing Society — No. XIV was that “there was an undue delay in requisition and deployment of Army”.
The SIT report, that had cleared Modi’s name, had concluded that there was no delay “in requisition and deployment of the Army”, based on testimony of Ashok Narayan, Additional Chief Secretary (Home).
The SIT never called the Lt General for questioning. It looks apparent from its report that the SIT did not look at Shah’s After Action Report submitted to the then army chief, Gen. S. Padmanabhan, which was later submitted to the central government.
Raghavan, when contacted by IANS on the phone, said that he is “not prepared to talk”. Questions sent to him and his attache at the Indian High Commission in Nicosia seeking his views on whether the Army or it’s After Action Report was considered before reaching to the conclusion that there was “no delay in requisition and deployment of the Army” have not been answered so far.
(Saket Suman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)