Gujarat police officer implicates Modi in riots

Published: April 23, 2011
In separate development, Samjhauta blast accused claims innocence.

In separate development, Samjhauta blast accused claims innocence.


A senior Indian police officer has accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the massacre of Muslims during riots which swept the state in 2002, a report said on Friday.

In an affidavit filed in India’s Supreme Court the officer, Sanjeev Bhatt, quoted Modi as saying Hindus should be “allowed to vent their anger”, the Press Trust of India said, citing unnamed sources.

Modi, a prominent member of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) touted as a future prime minister, has long been accused by human rights groups of turning a blind eye to the violence that killed around 2,000 Muslims.

He has always denied any wrongdoing in connection with the riots.

Bhatt said in the affidavit that he had attended a meeting called by Modi in February 2002 at the height of the carnage where he asked police officers to be “indifferent” to the brutality, the news agency said.

The riots came after 59 Hindu pilgrims perished in a blaze at a railway station in Gujarat, sparking an anti-Muslim backlash that resulted in some of India’s worst religious violence since independence from Britain in 1947.

Hindu mobs rampaged through Muslim neighbourhoods during three days of bloodshed.

Bhatt’s affidavit was filed in connection with a special investigation into the riots and is expected to be separately considered by the Supreme Court on April 27.

The Press Trust of India said that Bhatt confirmed the filing of the affidavit but declined to disclose its contents.

Responsibility for the train fire has been the subject of fierce dispute between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities.

Last month, a court handed down 11 death penalties and 20 life terms to Muslims convicted of burning Hindus alive in the blaze.

The trial verdicts were seen as supporting Hindu claims that the fire was a planned attack rather than the result of mob violence.

Muslims have always denied setting the train ablaze.

Meanwhile, proclaiming his innocence, Samjhauta Express train blast accused Swami Aseemanand said on Friday that he had done nothing wrong, Asian News International (ANI) reported.

“I am innocent. I have done nothing wrong,” Aseemanand, who has also been charged for plotting the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast, said while leaving the court.

The Samjhauta Express train blast was a terrorist attack, which took place in February 2007 on the Pakistan-India friendship train service in Panipat, killing 68 people, including 42 Pakistani nationals.

The accused, who had confessed his role in the Ajmer, Mecca Masjid, Malegaon and Samjhauta Express blasts, turned hostile earlier last month and accused investigating agencies, including National Investigation Agency and Anti Terrorist Squad of coercing him into making the ‘confessions’.

According to ANI, he told the Ajmer Chief Judicial Magistrate that his confession to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was under coercion from investigation agencies.

“I have been pressurised mentally and physically by the investigating agencies to ‘confess’ that I was behind these blasts,” stated Assemanand in a letter submitted before the Jaipur local court.

The CBI arrested Aseeman­and on November 19 last year for his alleged involvement in Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad that left nine persons dead.

AFP with additional input from news desk

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (28)

  • John
    Apr 23, 2011 - 9:55AM

    The police officer Bhatt is as much a culprit as Modi is for his indifference and dereliction of duty. Difficult to prove. All knows his involvement.

    BJP won’t go anywhere with Modi candidacy, that much is sure and there are other BJP leaders. Recommend

  • Atheist, India
    Apr 23, 2011 - 10:49AM

    I don’t know what to say here. BJP is hopelessly communal and Congress is shamelessly corrupt. Given a choice, I would vote for the corrupt every time as you can cure corruption of the politics but there is little hope for those whose minds are corrupted by religion. Communal people like Modi are a blot on the whole idea of India I sincerely hope this man is hanged to death for what he did in Gujarat.Recommend

  • india
    Apr 23, 2011 - 1:13PM

    He was sleeping for last 9 years and only woke up once congress paid him big money to use this communal agenda to gain muslim vote bankRecommend

  • Ravi
    Apr 23, 2011 - 2:31PM

    @Atheist, India:
    Even if BJP is communal i am up for it because i choose development over anything….
    If muslims want they can still move to pakistan……..
    that ll be good riddance………..Recommend

  • Paras Vikmani
    Apr 23, 2011 - 2:40PM

    The ghost of 2002 is back to haunt him
    anyone found guilty ought to be punishedRecommend

  • Nasir
    Apr 23, 2011 - 3:01PM

    Whoever had done or on whom’s directions, however, it was a planned attack on Samjhota Express and afterwards, killings of thousands of Muslims in Gujrat in the name of riots. Indian Govt has failed to unearth (deliberately) the actual masterminds of these incidents.Recommend

  • Sobriquet
    Apr 23, 2011 - 4:10PM

    @Ravi: You state that if Muslims want they can still move to Pakistan. Well they don’t want to move to Pakistan that’s why they are in India! In any case all Indians have equal rights. You need to come to terms with this because just as the past was, the future of India is secular. Recommend

  • G. Din
    Apr 23, 2011 - 5:12PM

    This man’s boss, his DIG then, and now retired, has sworn in a statement to the SIT that he, Sanjay Bhatt, was not even present in the meeting in which he says Modi made that offending statement. Evidently, the man is lying and has been pressured to make the statement against Modi. Why else, did not he speak up earlier or at his deposition before the same SIT? Modi is a man of high integrity and you can do nothing to bring down a good man!Recommend

  • Ravi
    Apr 23, 2011 - 6:02PM

    Secularism in india is because of hindus and not muslims.
    Let the muslims come in majorty as they probably will (thanks to their exceptional birth rate) and then you see there will be all the rabid talk of sharia law and all that, frequent conversions to islam by force and hence communal voilence…Recommend

  • Arif
    Apr 23, 2011 - 6:07PM

    9/11 and BL may be a gimmick, but this guy is devilish ‘rakshish.’Recommend

  • Dr Mishra
    Apr 24, 2011 - 1:45AM

    Ravi, from one Indian to another- your comment is crude- ….If muslims want they can still move to pakistan……..that ll be good riddance………..
    Sorry, Indian muslims are my brothers. We are here on ET to debate and to build bridges. Pl contribute sensibly.
    The burning of 59 hindu pilgrims by muslim mobs was evil, but a good state and police force should have hunted down the culprits ruthlessly. What happened was that a lot of innocent muslims, and hindus died in the riots that followed.Recommend

  • G. Din
    Apr 24, 2011 - 2:44AM

    “…In any case all Indians have equal rights.”
    You can brandish rights only after you have fulfilled your responsibilities. Unlike in Islam, rights in any secular democracy are EARNED not entitled by any divine decree! And, only those rights shall be enjoyed which are granted by general consensus.That means, no rights are permanent; they can be given and they can be taken away!
    “…the future of India is secular…”
    That it is! And, it will be secular with or without Muslims. We have plenty of minorities besides Muslims. They are happy with us and we, with them!Recommend

  • pl/sql
    Apr 24, 2011 - 6:15AM

    I for one just want religion to keep the hell out of state’s business in India. I don’t care what religion you belong to, practice it at your home. Don’t bring it into the public sphere.Recommend

  • Anon
    Apr 24, 2011 - 10:34AM

    @ Ravi – I disagree, I would go with Congress still. Development at the cost of divisiveness is not worth it. And let us not take away credit from Indian Muslims. India is secular because of its people irrespective of religion. And you are talking like the muslims of pre partition India. They felt they needed a separate homeland for muslims to be safe and thought they would not have any problems once they got their own land. Pakistan today proves how wrong this thinking was. So driving away/letting go of Indian Muslims will not solve any problems of India. It will not solve naxalism, corruption etc. All problems are dealt with when you engage with it. The problem lies in the attitude of people. Today we are divided along hindu-muslim lines. If muslims go away we will fight along some other lines (may be brahmin – dalit or rich- poor). (This is same as what is happening in Pakistan …Shia-Sunni, Legally Muslims – Ahmediyas). So the problem lies with our thinking. We can either be united no matter what or divided.Recommend

  • Apr 24, 2011 - 11:49AM

    @Ravi –

    I disagree. Personally I admire Modi for all the development he has done for Gujarat but remember, the Uniqueness of India lies in its Diversity, the day we lose that, the day we lose our Identity!Recommend

  • Prud balochiaman
    Apr 24, 2011 - 2:53PM

    Modi is incorruptible .This is what wiki leak cable said about him!!

    He is an ideal leader to become PM if he softens down his stand and shows off some minority friendly policy .

    The underlyiing point is that he is always working for both hindus and muslims!!
    but he needs to show off like congress doesRecommend

  • G. Din
    Apr 24, 2011 - 4:49PM

    “…the Uniqueness of India lies in its Diversity, the day we lose that, the day we lose our Identity!”
    Diversity of India does NOT depend on whether Muslims form part of it or not. Therefore there is no particular danger in losing our “identity” if we happen to lose Muslims! Our other minorities should not be taken for granted and instead, appreciated for the richness they contribute to India and have always done so without being Islamic prickly!!Recommend

  • FAZ
    Apr 24, 2011 - 5:17PM

    “frequent conversion to Islam by force”. What a crap!!. Go through history!!! 800 years of muslim rule was enough to wash away every hindu *, along with your culture and civilization had the mughals wanted it that way. Muslim empire, globally, was twice as large as the roman empire in the days of the caliphate. This is why you will find “local” muslims in nearly all parts of the world.Recommend

  • FAZ 2
    Apr 25, 2011 - 2:39AM

    @FAZ::: they tried their best man..
    but they couldn’t.Recommend

  • Cherish Raj
    Apr 25, 2011 - 4:39AM

    Hinduism is the only ancient culture that survived the onslaught of the so called ‘people of the book’. We were just too many to be washed away by the Mughals though Babur and Aurangazeb tried their best. Go learn history.Recommend

  • Rakib
    Apr 25, 2011 - 7:27AM

    Amazing! One commentator here talks of sending 150 million Indian Muslims to Pakistan; another has nightmares of Muslims becoming an overwhelming majority; yet another has got the screaming ones that all Hindus will be converted while a chap day-dreams that somehow all Muslims will vanish and then India will remain Secular! OTOH, Pakistani Muslims would do well to prevent slaughter of fellow-Muslims closer home and bring their guilty to book.

    Indian Society is not Secular. Therefore it is necessary for Indian Polity to be scrupulously so. Government & its Institutions -Admin,Judiciary, Police, Army-must stay neutral among conflicting customs/mores/ sects/religions. Queen Victoria realised that as far back as 1858! India retained the underlying principle; Pakistan jettisoned it. That is where we parted company.

    Secularism is not a chosen luxury. It is a necessity for the very survival of India. Modi has damaged that faculty by involving an institution of the state, supposed to be neutral,in his anti-Muslim agenda. Professionals like Sanjay Bhatt represent the old traditions of one such institution, unfortunately compromised beyond redemption by Modi’s henchmen. Modi will go one day but the evil created by him will live on. One day it will come to haunt other minorities-not only religious but also regional & linguistic ones-and even Hindus themselves.

    I hold Modi guilty of murder,not of any individuals but of Institutions. He provides the clear evidence of what is in store for India if ever a RSS Pracharak (demagogue) comes to absolute power. Though relatively clean, that Modi is incorruptible is an exaggeration. It is a well cultivated facade.His Party isn’t incorruptible. And traditionally Gujarat is the best catchment area for “funds”. Modi is good in his work but he is not the only one engaged in developmental work. There are other States too that are doing quite well. I would rate Nitish Kumar of Bihar as a far superior CM any day. And he does not have to run anti-Muslim jamborees either to impress the loonies.Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 25, 2011 - 11:21AM

    For all the anti-muslim image of Modi now-a-days, Gujarathi muslims now prefer to vote to him rather than the divisive oppurtunists who oppose him.

    Dear mods, you have blocked a previous post of mine which I wrote to the same effect. What I write is truth and if you refuse to allow it, well, atleast you have fun :)Recommend

  • bvindh
    Apr 25, 2011 - 11:41AM


    800 years of muslim rule was enough to
    wash away every hindu

    If you look at the life of Aurangzeb (who ruled the physically largest mughal kingdom), he dedicated his life (till the point of death) in futility trying to defeat the small hindu Maratha kingdom. This was one of the chief reasons he left Delhi in disarray for decades together and without any strong heirs to his “Islamic kingdom”. These circumstances eventually ensured the collapse of Mughal empire.

    This is precisely Akbar alone was called “The Great” among all the Mughals. He foresaw such a situation and preferred the wiser way of reconciliation and harmony. Alas, he couldn’t foresee that arab mullas would one day produce an Aurangzeb in his family. Apart from the hen pecked drunkard called Jehangir and Shah Jehan who ruined country to build a grave for his wife (if he loved his wife so much, would have shown some pity not impregnate her for 14 consecutive years)

    Mughals were indeed Mongols who were historically (comparitively) tolerant towards other religions. Even the terrible Ghengiz Khan was known to be very tolerant towards other religions. It was the arab influence that eventually corrupted the true tradition of Mughals and pushed them towards the path of self-destruction.

    History has a habit of repeating itself. Do you find the present day story of Pakistan to be faintly similar to above story? Especially if you replace Aurangzeb with Zia?Recommend

  • joy
    Apr 25, 2011 - 7:58PM

    @ Ravi

    let a thousand flowers bloomRecommend

  • let there be peace
    Apr 25, 2011 - 10:17PM

    @Prud balochiaman:
    Modi is incorruptible. yes, and i am sure so must have been Hitler & Auragzeb. Agreed gujrat riots deaths were tiny number compared to hitler, stalin or islamic rule victims but punishment for 10 murders and and 10 thousand murders is same.

    Agree with most of Rakib’s comment .

    Disagree with Ravi regarding a comment about muslims which sounds almost fascist.
    HOWEVER if the same is said about the ideology that muslims follow and not about muslims as people, then I agree.Recommend

  • FAZ
    Apr 27, 2011 - 5:44PM

    @All my “hindustani” friends:
    Its useless to comment when u guys have ur own versions of history! But calling the mongols tolerant just made me rofl!!! Hats off to you bro!!
    My piont is that there are these “extreme” elements in our society that wont lead us to any thing. I hope we recognize them asap!!Recommend

  • Apr 29, 2011 - 11:44AM

    @G. Din: In an equal rights democratic system equality is a birthright and you do not need to earn your birthrights; you get them automatically when you are born—not by divine decree but by political decree. You earn a wage and get awarded a medal. So don’t confuse birthrights with what you earn or get rewarded. If you are still unsure read up on the human rights convention and democratic systems.Recommend

  • Apr 29, 2011 - 11:51AM

    @Ravi: In the context of your original post it is irrelevant as to who or what led India to secularism. You said that if Muslims want they can still move to Pakistan. To which I commented that they don’t—that’s why they are in India and, just as the past was, the future of India is secular.

    Your tirade that the Muslim population will eventually subsume other groups in India ignores the fact that nature doesn’t favour monoculture of any sort; this is why the world has diversity. And even when suppressive dominance takes root, it is always temporary. Recommend

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