Window To The Horror
The grisly massacre
at Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad lasted 10 hours in front of the police’s
approving eyes. It’s the perfect example of how the Gujarat government
orchestrated the genocide
IN THE MOST horrific
of massacres of Gujarat 2002, hundreds of defenceless men, women and children
huddled together in a small Ahmedabad locality were hacked, burnt alive
and raped in a 10-hour murderous frenzy by saffron mobs armed to the teeth.
The localities were Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon, less than four km from
the Ahmedabad police headquarters and five km from the local police station,
and the date was February 28, a day after 59 people died in the Sabarmati
Express fire at Godhra. The policemen who reached Naroda were described
by survivors as exhorting the mob to kill and rape. When the killing stopped
late in the night, the official death toll stood at 105: 97 in Patiya,
8 in Gaon.
Babu Bajrangi, the Bajrang Dal leader who led the mobs, told TEHELKA that
Ahmedabad Police Commissioner PC Pandey had the corpses stuffed into trucks
and jeeps and strewn around the city to reduce the death count at Naroda.
Hundreds of witnesses to the grisly dance of hate have been denied a hearing
in India’s institutions of justice for six years now. The Special
Investigation Team (SIT), tasked by the Supreme Court last month to re-investigate
high-profile post-Godhra violence cases, simply needs to compare the TEHELKA
tapes with the hundreds of eyewitness accounts and depositions. Besides
the sting operation, TEHELKA and lawyer Somnath Vatsa of the NGO Action
Aid analysed the police investigations and chargesheets in the Naroda
Patiya case to find that instead of playing its role of the protector,
the police was involved in a massive cover-up. Some instances:
Bodies disposed of to reduce the death toll
Once the massacre was over, began the mopup operation. As Bajrangi told
TEHELKA, the police had the bodies from Naroda Patiya rounded up and dumped
at various places across the city. According to Bajrangi, over 200 people
had died that day. Late that night, then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner
PC Pandey, who was recently promoted as Gujarat’s Director General
of Police, came to Naroda and ordered the police to have the bodies removed.
“They were piled up in trucks, it took so many vehicles, some were
even stuffed into jeeps,” Bajrangi recalled. When the bodies were
collected the second time and brought to the Civil Hospital for the post-mortem,
they were recorded as being from the area where they were found. In this
manner, the police managed to keep the death count down. The postmortem
records show that even these 105 bodies from Naroda were brought to the
hospital piecemeal, with the last few bodies being brought in a full four
days after the massacre.
on 41 bodies
After this evidence
was destroyed came step two. The bodies — charred, hacked at, bearing
shot wounds, stab marks and marks of rape — could have been strong
evidence of a brutal massacre and of the administration’s complicity.
But the police did not carry out postmortems on as many as 41 bodies recovered
from Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. No explanation has been offered for
this act of grave negligence and omission.
The pit in which a
large number of people were burnt alive was not even examined by the police.
No samples were taken of the soil, of the traces of human tissue or of
the remains of burnt fuel. The pit does not even figure in the police
version of the massacre. The dying declarations of as many as seven victims
were not recorded; two of them died on March 11 after prolonged treatment,
but no explanation is forthcoming in the chargesheet on why their statements
were not recorded.
against absconding prime accused
Many important accused
were allowed to flee after the police was forced to register FIRs against
them. Babu Bajrangi, Kishan Korani, Prakash Rathod and Suresh Richard,
for instance, were arrested three months after the FIR was issued. Bipin
Panchal was arrested after a year and a half. But the police did not follow
any of the usual procedures when an accused absconds, such as pasting
notices outside the accused’s house declaring him an absconder,
confiscating his properties, nothing.
Not one confession
Those arrested for the Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon massacres were taken
in on remand. But the remand and interrogation were a farce. Not one confession
has been annexed to the chargesheets filed in the Naroda massacres.
made of rapes
were filed in the Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya massacres. None of them
mentions a single rape, although dozens of survivors reported that women
were raped. At least one post-mortem indicated a possible case of sexual
assault, yet no investigations were carried out.
of an accused recovered from the spot not examined
On the day of the
massacre, a survivor named Mirza Hussain Biwi Moherble recovered a mobile
phone near her residence in Naroda Patiya. It had been inadvertently dropped
by one of the accused, and was handed over to the police. On enquiry,
Additional Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, AK Surolia found that
it belonged to one Ashok Sindhi, an accused in the massacre. Surolia launched
an investigation and started collecting the call records of Babu Bajrangi
and other accused, including Sindhi. Surolia was subsequently transferred.
TEHELKA FOUND as well
as recorded during its six-month-long investigation how the rioters had
the complete support of the powers-that-be in the Gujarat government and
how the political establishment had planned the pogrom. Many accused praised
the police for its role. They named senior leaders of the Sangh Parivar,
including the then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia. TEHELKA
has Babu Bajrangi on record saying he spoke to Zadaphia after the Patiya
massacre. Not only this, Bajrangi, who is the main accused in the killings,
said Chief Minister Narendra Modi visited Naroda twice after the massacre
— first in the evening of the day of the massacre (when he came
to the locality but was unable to enter it) and second on the next day,
when he went inside the locality. On both occasions, Modi patted the killers,
Bajrangi said, and told them that whatever they had done was good and
that they should do even more.
accused, Suresh Richard, too corroborated this and said Modi had also
visited Chharanagar (an area near Naroda Patiya from where many rioters
came) on the evening of the massacre and garlanded the rioters. Bajrangi
said after the Naroda killings, Modi kept him in hiding for more than
four months and then stage-managed his arrest. If that was not enough,
he also brought in a favourable judge, Justice Akshay Mehta (see accompanying
story) to hear Bajrangi’s bail petition and got him out of