Dubbing Godhra train fire incident as “conspiracy” was after-thought : ex top cop R.B. Sreekumar

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Releasing Urdu and Hindi translations of Police oficer's account of Gujarat riots

By M M Special Correspondent

New Delhi:  Former top Gujarat police officer R.B. Sreekumar disclosed that the word “conspiracy across the border ” for the Godhra train fire incident- which had been used as an ‘alibi’ for the Gujarat 2002 genocide by the then BJP government- was an after-thought and it was mentioned in the Police diary after 15 days. He also revealed that the Justice Nanavati Commission and SIT had never reconstructed scene of the crime of the Godhra incident to unearth truth and corroborated that Gujarat anti- Muslim riots were planned and the police had flouted standard procedure.

Speaking at a release function of his book ‘Gujarat Behind The Curtain’s  Hindi and Urdu editions here,  the former Additional Director General of Police Gujarat, Sreekumar, IPS (retd) said the  Sabarmati  Express train fire at the Godhra Station  on  27 February 2002   was an  “accident”  as  the bogie of a running train could not set on fire from outside.  This fact was also concluded in its report by the Justice U C Banerjee Commission which probed the incident.

He also underlined that it is a standard police procedure to reconstruct a crime in order to know how it actually happened but in the case of Godhra fire, this was never done.  He also disclosed that the word “conspiracy” for the Godhra incident was an after-thought and it appeared in the police case diary only 15 days after the incident.

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He said the police did not abide the Standard Operations Procedure during the riots which began at the Godhra railway station itself when bodies of the victims of the fire in S6 coach were handed over to the VHP on 27 February in clear violation of law which says that a body may be handed over only to the legal heir of a deceased person, the author said.

Recalling that Karsevaks misbehaved throughout the journey from Faizabad, he said they even tried to abduct a Muslim girl and take her forcibly inside the coach. He said, as customary, police informers were accompanying Rama Bhaktas all the way from Faizabad and were regularly giving information to the Police in Ahmedabad and all FIRs were suppressed.

“Fire did not start in Coach 6 while the train was on the Godhra station but when it had departed from there,” he said and added that it is not known until now how the fire started and who was responsible.

“There were some passengers who had booked their journey in that coach, their details are with the railway department, they survived but they were never questioned,” he revealed.

He said his book is his seventh attempt to ensure the supremacy of law. “Modi had told officers in the evening of 27 February that “the anger of Hindus will wane in three days, do not interfere until then,” he revealed and added that if the Standard Operations Procedure of Police is adhered to, no riot can take place.

He also alleged that the Gujarat Police force is very corrupt and, as an example, said the average income of every police station in Ahmedabad during his time in Gujarat police was Rs 25 lakh a month. He also blamed Congress’ soft Hindutva policy for BJP’s gaining foothold in the state.

The book ‘Gujarat Behind The Curtain’s Urdu translation is titled “Gujarat pas-e parda” and Hindi as “Gujarat parde ke peeche” were released here at the Indian Women Press Club in the presence of a large contingent of intellectuals and print and electronic media journalists.

Sreekumar’s account is the most authentic book on the Gujarat riots of 2002 as he was an eyewitness being the Additional Director General of Intelligence in Gujarat during the riots. Furthermore, the author also spoke during and after the riots and appeared before the Nanavati Commission which probed the riots. He openly spoke against the policies of Gujarat’s Modi government and BJP policies and was penalized for same. While former CBI director R K Raghavan , who headed the SIT to probe the major massacres of Gujarat riots, was awarded ambassadorship of Cyprus for weakening the riots cases by the present government, Sreekumar said.

The book is published by the Delhi-based publisher Pharos Media. Speaking as the publisher, noted journalist and community leader Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan said it has published books on burning issues of the time in various languages in order to present correct perspectives before the readers. Pharos Media has published many books on the terrorism narrative in the country including the best-seller “Who Killed Karkare?” which is now available in eight languages of the country, he added.

In response to a question as to what is the benefit of publishing such a book after so many years of the incident, Dr Khan said that our aim is to preserve the true history for the generations to come and to ensure that those responsible for such ghastly incidents are forever naked in front of the mirror of history. Another reason, he said, is that there is always a possibility that after the change of government such cases will be reopened and then such documentary works will be very useful.

Journalist Masoom Moradabadi said the book assumes significance as the author held a top post in the Gujarat Police during the crucial period when the pogroms occurred and lingered for months.  Right activist Ovais Sultan Khan  said Sreekumar took cudgels with the rulers of the day and suffered as a result while a person like Raghvan, who was wanted for questioning in the Rajiv Gandhi murder case, was asked to probe Gujarat riots and now for his “services” has been appointed as an ambassador in a foreign country.

Activist and journalist Humra Qureshi also spoke on the occasion.  She said the book proves that riots do not occur by themselves but are planned and executed on purpose. She said Sreekumar is a brave man who suffered while raising his voice for justice while, in comparison, Vanzara sided with the rulers and despite all his crimes, he is a free man today.

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