The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction

Godhra, a city of the Indian State of Gujarat, was the lead story in all Indian newspapers on 27-28 February 2002. A sha

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The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction

Table of contents :
The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction
The Anger
The Media Sources
Arson and Canards
Onlookers Get Caught
In the Interests of a Community
Authentic Inquiry
“Indisputable” Facts
After Godhra
A Few Healing Voices
A Farcical Interlude
The Nanavati Report
Heartstrings for Whom?
Pattern for Harmony
Notes & References
Extracts of Justice Nanavati-Shah Inquiry Commission report
The Godhra Riots Postscript: The Masterminds
The Role of Congress Members
The Campaign
The SIT and Sanjeev Bhatt
An Activist’s Career
The ISRO Spy Scandal
Cooked-Up Affidavits
Following the Clues
Notes & References

Citation preview

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction Nicole Elfi

Godhra, a city of the Indian State of Gujarat, was the lead story in all Indian newspapers on 27-28 February 2002. A shattering piece of news: 58 Hindu pilgrims had been burned alive in a train. “57 die in ghastly attack on train” ran the Times of India’s headline; “Mob targets Ramsevaks [Devotees of Rama] returning from Ayodhya”; “58 killed in attack on train with Karsevaks [volunteers]” (The Indian Express); “1500-strong mob butcher 57 Ramsevaks on Sabarmati Express” (The Asian Age). But the BBC’s announcement had a very different tone: “58 Hindu ‘extremists’ burned to death” … or Agence France Press on March 2: “A train full of Hindu ‘extremists’ was burnt.” A deluge of anguished news followed about a “Muslim genocide”: “Mass killings of Muslims in reprisal riots” (New York Times, March 5), “The authorities … share the prejudices of the Hindu gangs who have been busy pulping their Muslim neighbours” (The Observer, March 4). We were told that Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, intended to eradicate Muslims from the State—more than 9% of Gujarat’s population, in other words five million people. We read that the police was conniving in the mass slaughter and did nothing to prevent it. Narendra Modi was compared to Hitler, or Nero. We shuddered reading the reports describing rapes and various horrors, supposedly inflicted on Muslims by Hindus. Today, with the noises and cries of the wounds having fallen silent, what emerges from those events? What are the facts? At 7:43 A.M. on February 27, 2002, the Sabarmati Express rolled into the Godhra station, fortunately with a four-hour delay, in broad daylight. This train transported more than 2,000 people, mainly karsewaks on their way back to

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Ahmedabad after participating in the Poorna Ahuti Yagya at Ayodhya, a ritual at the traditional birthplace of Rama. As it pulled out of the station, the train was pelted with stones and bricks, and passengers from several bogeys were forced to bring down their windows to protect themselves. Someone pulled the emergency chain: the train came to a halt about 100 metres away from the platform, surrounded by a large crowd of Muslims. The railway police managed to disperse the crowd, and the train resumed its journey. Within minutes, the emergency chain was simultaneously pulled again, from several coaches. It halted at about 700 metres from the station. A crowd of over 1,000 surrounded the train, pelting it with bricks, stones, then burning missiles and acid bulbs, especially on the S-5, S-6 and S-7 coaches. The vacuum pipe between coaches S-6 and S-7 was cut, thereby preventing any further movement of the train. The doors were locked from outside. A fire started in coach S-7, which the passengers were able to extinguish. But the attack intensified and coach S-6 caught fire and minutes later, was in flames. Passengers who managed to get out of the burning compartment were attacked with sharp weapons, and stoned. They received serious injuries, some were killed. Others got out through the windows and took shelter below the coach. Fifty-eight pilgrims were burned alive, including twenty-seven women and ten children. The whole attack lasted 20-25 minutes.1 What transpired, then, in the Indian press? Let’s imagine a coach of French pilgrims coming back from Lourdes, burned alive. Strangely, instead of clearly, straightforwardly condemning the act, the Indian English-language press tried to justify it: “Pilgrims provoked by chanting pro-Hindu slogans” (they were not slogans but bhajans, or devotional songs, ending with “Jai Sri Ram” (Victory to Sri Rama). “It’s because they were returning from Ayodhya, where they asked for the reconstruction of a temple at

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the traditional birth place of Rama; this offends the feelings of the Muslims.” In sum, the victims, roasted alive, were guilty.

The Anger  Numb with shock, the people of Gujarat did not react straightaway. They remained calm at first. Till that afternoon, when the charred bodies started arriving









condemnation of this barbaric act—then these people known for their nonviolent nature and exceptional patience, burst into a frenzy. There was a revolt in the whole of Gujarat. For three days, tens of thousands of enraged Hindus set fire to Muslim shops, houses, vehicles: they came out from all sides, all parties, all classes, uncontrollable—one cannot control a revolution (except in China maybe). The fatalities: 720 Muslims, 250 Hindus, according to official figures. We read all over about a “genocide of Muslims”. Do we remember a single report on the Hindus who heroically helped save Muslims in their neighbourhood? Was even one family of Hindu victims interviewed following the criminal burning of the Sabarmati Express? One fourth of the dead in the ensuing riots were Hindus. How to classify those 250 victims? Who evoked the dead on the Hindu side? According to reports, Congress Party councillor Taufeeq Khan Pathan and his son Zulfi, notorious gangsters, were allegedly seen leading Muslim rioters. Another such character, Congress member of the Godhra Nagarpalika [municipality], Haji Balal, was said to have had the firefighting vehicle sabotaged beforehand. Then, he stopped the vehicle on its way to the Godhra Station and did not allow it to proceed any further. A man stood in front of the vehicle, the mob started pelting stones, … The headlights and the windowpanes of the vehicle got damaged … Fearing for his own and his crew's life, the driver drove the vehicle through the mob, as it was not possible to move backwards. The mob gave in but 15-20 precious minutes had been lost.2

Lost for a coach-full of innocent people gone up in flames.

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Which newspaper article stated that the most violent events took place following provocations by leaders of this sort? The Union Home Ministry's Annual Report of 2002-03 stated that 40,000 Hindus were in riot relief camps. What made those 40,000 Hindus rush to relief camps? To seek protection from whom? Why was it necessary if they were the main aggressors? More than the barbaric event itself, it is the insensitivity of the Indian “elite” and of the media that infuriated the Gujaratis. Those accused of terrorism often receive political support, are benevolently portrayed by the media, and a host of “human rights” organisations are always on hand to fight for them. But those victims whose lives are cut down for no reason, are they not “human” enough to get some rights too? The great majority of those who took to revolt in Gujarat were neither rich nor particularly intellectual—neither right nor left: they were middle- and lower-class Gujaratis, simple people, workers, also tribals. But some from the upper middle class, among them a lot of women, took part in the upheaval.

The Media Sources  Apart from local journalists usually more objective in their reports, no English newswriter thought it worthwhile to look deeper into the events at the Godhra railway station. Nobody came to question possible survivors of the tragedy. Is a coach of Hindu pilgrims even worth the trip? They had to wait for the “elite” to react; they had to receive directives from the politically correct, before picking up their pens. Worse, they reported deliberate rumours and made up versions as actual news. We were told, for instance, that when some pilgrims got off the ill-fated coaches to have tea, “some altercation took place” between them, and a Muslim tea vendor: “They argued with the old man on purpose,” wrote some newspapers; “they refused to pay for their tea” (though Gujarati honesty is well known); “they pulled his beard and beat him up ... They kept shouting ‘Mandir

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ka nirmaan karo, Babar ki aulad ko bahar karo’ (start building the temple and throw out the sons of Babar). Hearing the chaos, the tea vendor’s 16-year-old daughter came forward and tried to save her father from the karsevaks. She kept pleading and begging them to leave him alone. The karsevaks, according to this version, then seized the girl, took her inside their compartment and closed the door. The old man kept banging on the door and pleaded for his daughter. Then two stall vendors jumped into the last bogey, pulled the chain, and put the bogey on fire.” But would they have been stupid enough to set fire to the coach where their colleague’s young daughter was being held? And why were 2,000 Muslims assembled there at 7 A.M. with jerry-cans of petrol bought the previous evening? Rajeev Srinivasan, an American journalist of Indian origin, was e-mailed this anonymous report a dozen times, supposedly written by Anil Soni, Press Trust of India reporter. He contacted Anil Soni to check on the veracity of this account. Soni answered: Some enemy of mine has done this to make life difficult for me, do you understand, sir? I did not write this at all. I am a PTI correspondent. Yes, that is my phone number, but it is not my writing.3

Anil Soni apparently had heard about it from numerous people, and was upset to see a false report circulated in his name. Inquiries with the Railway staff and passengers travelling in the Sabarmati Express showed that no quarrel whatsoever took place on the platform between a tea vendor and pilgrims, and no girl was manhandled nor kidnapped. As the Nanavati Report established later, this fictitious report was in fact circulated by the Jamiat-Ulma-E-Hind, the very hand responsible for the carnage. It nevertheless went around the world, exhibited as “the true story.” Aren’t we compelled to conclude that the assailants, in India, are those who dictate what’s “politically correct,” and instruct the media?

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Arson and Canards  On February 27 evening, the very day of the carnage, Chief Minister Narendra Modi, took steps to deploy the Rapid Action Force (RAF), State Reserve Police and local police at sensitive points. Apprehending the seriousness of the situation, he requested “ten coys [companies] of central paramilitary forces to be provided immediately ... in addition to the four coys of R.A.F.”4 He also issued a statement expressing deep shock at the attack and appealed to the people to remain calm and exert self-control, assuring them that the crime would not go unpunished. On the afternoon of February 28, Gujarati Hindus’ revolt broke out. A few journalists then booked their tickets for Gujarat. As far as we can see, they had a framework in place: the outbreak would be dealt with independently of the Godhra carnage, as a different, unrelated issue; it was a planned violence perpetrated by “fundamentalist” Hindus against Gujarat’s Muslims, fully backed by the State of Gujarat. From this day on, the burning of coach S-6 was to be left behind, forgotten. March 1, 11 A.M.: the actual deployment of troops at sensitive points had begun. Violence abated in most major cities, after their arrival with orders to shoot on sight. But security forces were largely outnumbered by the angry flood of people, spreading for the first time like rivers in spate, to rural areas and villages. The Gujarat Government requested from the chief secretaries of neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, ten companies of armed police from each state to assist the Gujarat government in “handling law and order situation”. As Madhu Kishwar points out,5 at that time all three states had Congress I governments. And all three turned down the request. Why did no one report this fateful refusal? Instead, at the peak of the turmoil the same day, the National Human Rights Commission faxed a notice to the Gujarat Government, calling for a

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report within three days on the measures being taken … “to prevent any further escalation of the situation in the State of Gujarat which is resulting in continued violation of human rights of the people”! To which Gujarat Chief Secretary sent a request to grant 15 more days, as “the State machinery is busy with the law & order situation ...”6 Indeed. But the NHRC was silent on the Gujarat Government’s urgent calls for assistance, as well as on what had led to such a situation in the first place. One major event which received a great deal of attention from the media was the conflagration at the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, home of a former Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffri. This man, rather refined and usually respected, did not feel threatened. But on February 28 morning, a crowd surrounded his house, in which a number of Muslims had taken refuge. Jaffri made a number of panic-stricken phone calls for help to authorities and to his colleagues, journalists and friends. The crowd was growing … (from 200 to 20,000, figures vary in the reports). The Indian Express (March 1, 2002), as well as police records, reported that “eventually, in panic, he fired at the 5,000-strong mob … 2 were killed and 13 injured ... That incensed the mob …” which at 1:30 P.M. set the bungalow ablaze by exploding a gas cylinder. Final toll: 42 (March

11 edn). Human Rights Watch, an NGO based in New York, published a dossier (April 30, 2002) about the Gujarat events which caused a sensation and fed a large number of articles in the international press.7 In this report, Smita Narula had an unnamed “witness” at hand, to relate the attack on Jaffri’s house. First “a 200 to 500-strong mob threw stones; refugees in the house (also 200-250 people—sic!) also threw stones in selfdefence.” Then the crowd set the place on fire at about 1:30 P.M. Our witness then jumped from the third floor where he was hiding—and from where he had been observing in minute detail all that was going on in the ground floor, even the theft of jewels (it would seem the floors between the third and the ground floor were transparent). At that point we jump into the sensational. Narula’s

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witness sees that “four or five girls were raped, cut, and burned …; two married women were also raped and cut. Some on the hand, some on the neck” …; “Sixty-five to seventy people were killed.” Those rapes and hackings are said to have started at 3:30 P.M. ... when the house was already on fire. Was the mob waiting for everything to be reduced to cinders to commit its crimes? Among the most morbid canards, the novelist Arundhati Roy’s vitriolic article (Outlook Magazine, 6 May 2002). She describes the event which precedes Ehsan Jaffri’s death (extract): … A mob surrounded the house of former Congress MP Iqbal Ehsan Jaffri. His phone calls to the Director-General of Police, the Police Commissioner, the Chief Secretary, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home) were ignored. The mobile police vans around his house did not intervene. The mob broke into the house. They stripped his daughters and burned them alive. Then they beheaded Ehsan Jaffri and dismembered him …

Wait a minute. Jaffri was burned alive in the house, true—is it not awful enough? Along with some other 41 people. Not enough? But his daughters were neither “stripped” nor “burnt alive.” T.A. Jafri, his son, in a front-page interview titled “Nobody knew my father’s house was the target” (Asian Age, May 2, Delhi edn), felt obliged to rectify: Among my brothers and sisters, I am the only one living in India. And I am the eldest in the family. My sister and brother live in the US. I am 40 years old and I have been born and brought up in Ahmedabad.

There we are, reassured as regards Ehsan Jaffri’s children. He had only one daughter, who was living abroad. No one was raped in the course of this tragedy, and no evidence was given to the police to that effect. The Gujarat Government sued Outlook magazine. In its May 27 issue, Outlook published an apology to save its face. But in the course of its apology, the magazine’s editors quoted a “clarification” from Roy, who withdrew her lie by planting an even bigger one: the MP’s daughters “were not among the 10 women who were raped and killed in Chamanpura that day”! From Smita

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Narula to Arundhati Roy, “four or five girls” had swollen to “ten women,” equally anonymous and elusive. Roy begins theatrically: Last night a friend from Baroda called. Weeping. It took her fifteen minutes to tell me what the matter was. It wasn’t very complicated. Only that Sayeeda, a friend of hers, had been caught by a mob. Only that her stomach had been ripped open and stuffed with burning rags. Only that after she died, someone carved ‘OM’ on her forehead.

Balbir Punj, Rajya Sabha MP and journalist, shocked by this “despicable incident” which allegedly occurred in Baroda, decided to investigate it. He got in touch with the Gujarat government. The police investigations revealed that no such case, involving someone called Sayeeda, had been reported either in urban or rural Baroda. Subsequently, the police sought Roy’s help to identify the victim and seek access to witnesses who could lead them to those guilty of this crime. But the police got no cooperation. Instead, Roy, through her lawyer, replied that the police had no power to issue summons.8

This redefines the term “fiction writer”. Another story about a “pregnant Muslim woman” whose stomach was allegedly “ripped open,” her “foetus taken out” and both being burnt, horrified people all over the world. The first mention of it seems to be in a BBC report around March 6, which, though “uncorroborated,” spread like wildfire, with fresh details (divergent and varied, but who cares?), so much so that you end up feeling there is no smoke without fire. The rumour was never confirmed— which twisted tongue first whispered it? Press articles kept quoting one another, creating “dossiers” out of floating rumours. None of the authors even deigned to visit the scene of the alleged events; none except the official inquiry commissions, had the honesty to question fairly, in parallel, the involved Hindu families regarding the tragedy unfolding in the two Gujarati communities.

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3 March 2002: Prevention Of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) invoked against those arrested for Godhra train burning case. 25 March 2002: POTO suspended on all the accused due to pressure from the Central Government.

Onlookers Get Caught  On March 1, 2002, in a village on the outskirt of Vadodara (Baroda), the “Best Bakery” was set on fire: twelve persons were burnt alive (nine Muslims and three Hindus). This particular incident made much ink flow, since the prime witness, young Zaheera Habibullah Sheikh, aged 19, turned against the prosecution in favour of the accused in the trial court. Though Zaheera lost several family members in the tragedy, on May 17, 2003, in the Vadodara High Court, she testified that the accused persons in the dock were innocent and had nothing to do with the arson. She, as well as the other witnesses, did not recognize their own alleged statements before the police. Justice Mahida of the High Court observed that: 1) There has been an inexcusable delay in the First Information Report (FIR). The so-called FIR of Zahiribibi (Zaheera) was sent to the Magistrate after four to five days. So there is every reason to believe that factually this FIR was cropped up afterwards in the manner suitable to the police. 2) The arrested persons had nothing to do with the incident. “We all knew these accused persons and because of them, our lives are saved,” reported Lal Mohammed Shaikh, a witness before the court. … “There were cordial relations between my family members, the persons residing in the compound of Best Bakery and all the accused persons before the court … The 65 persons who are saved in this incident are all before the Court and all these were saved by and due to the accused and their family members … These persons had called us, in darkness we silently came out of our house, and they saved our lives.”

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3) The police is trying to put as accused passers-by at the place of incident, innocent









neighbourhood (in confidence that the police wouldn’t do anything to them). 4) No legal or acceptable evidence at all is produced by the prosecution against the accused involving them in this incident. In this case, … it has come out during the trial … that false evidences were cropped up against the present accused to involve them in this case. The case … is not proved and hence the accused are acquitted.9

On June 27, 2003, the twenty-one defendants were freed, and Zaheera Sheikh felt the court has given her “all the justice she wanted.”

In the Interests of a Community  But all were not satisfied. A former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) decided that the Vadodara judgement was a “miscarriage of justice” and the twenty-one “notguilty” people were actually guilty and therefore should be punished. Now this honourable person should have been aware that seated in Delhi at the helm of this “human rights” affair, he would have been the first target of a number of dubious NGOs with vested political interests. Strangely, Justice Anand did not even consider it important to send his own team of independent inquiry before questioning the judgment of another court of law. The Gujarat government “quickly appointed three public pleaders for the purpose of suing Justice Anand for contempt of court; these pleaders, in turn, filed an application before the Vadodara judge asking him to move the state's High Court to punish the contemnor who, they said, had insulted the honour and dignity of the judge, besides undermining the entire judiciary.”10 But even before any move by the Gujarat government, Justice Anand rushed to petition the apex court to order a re-trial of the 21 ‘not guilty’ Best Bakery accused.

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Consequently, just after the fast-track court acquittals, three members of Zaheera’s community “barged into her home” around midnight, and told her she would have to change her statement “in the interests of the community.” This meant that Zaheera had to declare that she had lied to the court (which is a criminal offence). Did she have a choice? Along with her mother and brother, she was taken to Mumbai “without their consent,” and brought to Teesta Setalvad,11 an activist of the muchvaunted “human rights.” The activist took them under her wing for several months, accommodated them in a rented apartment while providing assistance for a living. In the meantime she prepared affidavits (in English which Zaheera does not read) for the girl to sign before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in which she “confessed” to having lied to the Vadodara trial court, “trembling with fear and threatened” by BJP MLA Madhu Shrivastav (who had nothing to do with her area and whom she did not even know). And Zaheera now designated as guilty, the twenty-one people she had considered innocent. All media were ready with their cameras, mikes and pens to splash the news. The Gujarat High Court dismissed the appeal, rightly suspecting that the witness had been pressured to turn hostile, and upheld the acquittals. But the Supreme Court inexplicably accepted the retraction and, as demanded by NHRC and Setalvad, ordered the retrial of the case outside Gujarat. The acquittal of the twenty-one people was quashed. In 2004, Zaheera “managed to flee” from her confinement by the activist, and in November, seized by remorse for having allowed innocent people to be accused, stated in an affidavit before the Vadodara Collector that whatever she had told the Supreme Court, was done under duress from Teesta Setalvad and her associate Rais Khan; and whatever she told the NHRC was a lie. “Ramzan is on and I want to state the truth,” she said. “What I had said in Vadodara Court during the trial was my true statement. The judgement was correct and had

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given me all the justice I wanted.” She sought police protection from Teesta Setalvad.12 Fearing arrest, the activist moved the High Court seeking anticipatory bail. The Bombay High Court asked the Gujarat government to give her a 72hour notice if they wanted to arrest her. But the court disposed of the plea on the ground that no complaint had been lodged till now. The Supreme Court Judge however was on a different track and left Zaheera Sheikh alone on her path of truth: in August 2005, a Supreme Court committee indicted her as a “self-condemned liar” giving “inconsistent” statements during the trial,13 and on March 8, 2006, awarded her with a simple one-year imprisonment for contempt of court, as well as a fine of Rs. 50,000. Activist Teesta Setalvad was cleared. Now, who took the court for a ride? Especially in light of the revelation that “a host of Gujarat riot case victims were misled into signing affidavits giving false information, for which as many as ten of them had received 100,000 rupees from Setalvad’s Citizens for Justice and Peace. A list of names were sent to the CPI(M) relief fund, and demand drafts were handed out at a function in Ahmedabad on August 26, 2007 by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat, Teesta Setalvad and Rais Khan.”14 On April 13, 2009, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) report stated that all the affidavits of 22 witnesses were drafted, typed and printed from the same computer, giving sufficient grounds to believe they were “tutored”. When the SIT questioned those who signed the affidavits, it was shocked to learn that these complainants were not even aware of the incidents. In December 2004, a fatwa was issued against Zaheera by the Muslim Tayohar Committee, excommunicating her with the approval of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, “for having constantly lied.” In other words, for having stood by the twenty-one wrongly accused Hindus neighbours.

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Let us pursue our investigation.

Premeditated Files  Human Rights Watch Smita Narula’s report (30 April 2002) was titled “ ‘We have no order to save you’—State participation and complicity in anti-Muslim violence.” Issued from US shores, its words were lapped up by the Indian elite and politicians: What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims … planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.

But where are the facts to corroborate such an allegation, which of course was instantly peddled the world over? Can a “carefully orchestrated attack” happen overnight? And how can someone sitting in the U.S., gauge the “spontaneity” of such an outbreak?15

Authentic Inquiry  By contrast, a genuine, on-the-spot investigation was conducted under the aegis of the New Delhi-based Council for International Affairs and Human Rights.16 Its findings were made public as early as April 26, 2002, through a press conference held in Delhi. Running counter to the politically correct line of an “orchestrated attack,” they were largely ignored by the media. On March 3, 2002, the five-member fact-finding team under Justice Tewatia’s direction went to Godhra and spent six days visiting three affected areas in Ahmedabad and some of the relief camps. At all places, team members interacted with the two communities freely, without intervention of any officials. Five delegations from both communities presented their facts and views. The team then went to the Godhra railway station and interviewed officials, survivors and witnesses of the burning of the S-6 coach, as well as the fire brigade staff. They met the Godhra District Collector, along with other officials.

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On April 4, the team was in Vadodara, visiting five relief camps of both communities, and seven areas which were the scenes of violence in the preceding month, as well as a number of sensitive areas. To have exposure to the ground realities they visited some areas still under curfew and also met the Commissioner of Police and District Collector along with other officials. Thirteen delegations consisting of 121 citizens met the team and presented their testimonies; they included not only members of both communities, but ranged from the Association of Hoteliers to a group of Gujarati tribals (Vanavasis).

“Indisputable” Facts  Let us quote some findings of Justice Tewatia’s Inquiry Commission, which its report described as “indisputable”: 

The attack on Sabarmati Express on 27.02.02 was pre-planned and premeditated. It was the result of a criminal conspiracy hatched by a hostile foreign power with the help of local jehadis … carried out with the evil objective of pushing the country into a communal cauldron.

The plan was to burn the entire train with more than two thousand passengers in the wee hours of February 27, 2002.

There were no quarrels or fights between the vendors and the Hindu pilgrims on the platform of Godhra Railway Station.

Firebombs, acid bulbs and highly inflammable liquid(s) were used to set the coaches on fire that must have been stored [the day before] already for the purpose.

The fire fighting system available in Godhra was weakened and its arrival at the place of incident wilfully delayed by the mob with the open participation of a Congress Councillor, Haji Balal.

Fifty-eight passengers of coach S-6 were burnt to death by a Muslim mob and one of the conspirators was a Congress Councillor, Haji Balal.

Someone used the public address system exhorting the mob “to kill kafirs and enemies of Bin Laden.”

About the police:

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Police was on many occasions overwhelmed by the rioting mobs that were massive and carried more lethal weapons than the police did.

[They] did not have the training and know-how to manage situations of communal strife witnessed in the state in recent weeks.

In many places, … [they] made a commendable work in protecting life and property. Barring a few exceptions, it was not found to be communally motivated.

About army deployment: 

Available information shows that the Army was requisitioned and deployed in time.

 After Godhra  The involvement of the “tribal” communities or Vanavasis, in the post-Godhra riots added a new dimension to the communal violence, as Justice Tewatia’s report reveals: 

In rural areas the Vanavasis attacked the Muslim moneylenders, shopkeepers and the forest contractors. They used their traditional bows and arrows as also their implements used to cut trees and grass while attacking Muslims. They moved in groups and used coded signals for communication. Apparently, the accumulated anger of years of exploitation … had become explosive.

About the media: 

Gujarati language media was factual and objective. Yet its propensity to highlight the gory incidents in great detail heightened communal tension.

English language newspapers … appeared to have assumed the role of crusaders against the State [Gujarat] Government from day one. It coloured the entire operation of news gathering, feature writing and editorials. They distorted and added fiction to prove their respective points of view. The code of ethics prescribed by the Press Council of India was violated … with impunity. It so enraged the citizens that several concerned citizens in the disturbed areas suggested that peace

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could return to the state only if some of the TV channels were closed for some weeks.17

A Few Healing Voices  It would be unfair not to mention a few voices that rose from among the journalists themselves, against this enormity. The most eloquent one was Vir Sanghvi’s, usually part of the “secular” establishment, ever ready to portray Muslims as victims, Hindus as aggressors. Vir Sanghvi’s crisis of conscience suddenly gave him intellectual clarity. Some extracts from his article “One-Way Ticket” in The Hindustan Times of Feb. 28, 2002: There is something profoundly worrying in the response of what might be called the secular establishment to the massacre in Godhra. … There is no suggestion that the karsewaks started the violence … there has been no real provocation at all … And yet, the sub-text to all secular commentary is the same: the karsewaks had it coming to them. Basically, they condemn the crime; but blame the victims … Try and take the incident out of the secular construct that we, in India, have perfected and see how bizarre such an attitude sounds in other contexts. Did we say that New York had it coming when the Twin Towers were attacked last year? Then too, there was enormous resentment among fundamentalist Muslims about America's policies, but we didn't even consider whether this resentment was justified or not. Instead we took the line that all sensible people must take: any massacre is bad and deserves to be condemned. When Graham Staines and his children were burnt alive, did we say that Christian missionaries had made themselves unpopular by engaging in conversion and so, they had it coming? No, of course, we didn't. Why then are these poor karsewaks an exception? Why have we dehumanised them to the extent that we don't even see the incident as the human tragedy that it undoubtedly was …

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 18

I know the arguments well because—like most journalists—I have used them myself. And I still argue that they are often valid and necessary. But there comes a time when this kind of rigidly ‘secularist’ construct not only goes too far; it also becomes counter-productive. When everybody can see that a trainload of Hindus was massacred by a Muslim mob, you gain nothing by blaming the murders on the VHP18 or arguing that the dead men and women had it coming to them. Not only does this insult the dead (What about the children? Did they also have it coming?), but it also insults the intelligence of the reader. There is one question we need to ask ourselves: have we become such prisoners of our own rhetoric that even a horrific massacre becomes nothing more than occasion for Sangh Parivar-bashing?19

S. Gurumurthy in The New Indian Express (March 2), Jaya Jaitley in The Indian Express (March 7), Rajeev Srinivasan in Rediff on Net (March 25), Arvind Lavakare in Rediff on Net (April 23), T. Tomas in Business Standard (April 26), François Gautier in The Pioneer (April 30), M.V. Kamath in The Times of India (May 8), Balbir Punj in Outlook (May 27), each one expounded the absurdity of a situation where the majority of Indians—the Hindu community—are looked down upon as second-class citizens. A negligible lot taken for granted because it is harmless, non-aggressive, and unable to speak and act as one coherent, organized group.

A Farcical Interlude  Two and a half years after the events, on Sept. 3, 2004, the cabinet of the Central Government (ruled by the UPA coalition20) approved the setting up of a committee constituted by the Railways Minister Lallu Prasad Yadav, and headed by Justice U. C. Banerjee, former judge of the Supreme Court, to probe the causes of the conflagration in the Sabarmati Express. “The blaze is an accident,” Justice Banerjee coolly concluded in January 2005. There was “no possibility of inflammable liquid being used,” said he, and

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 19

the fire originated “in the coach itself, without external input.” The Cabinet ministers were fully satisfied. Neelkanth Bhatia, among the few survivors, was not. He gathered enough strength to challenge the formation of this committee, and in October 2006, the Gujarat High Court quashed the conclusions of the Banerjee Committee. It declared its formation as a “colourful exercise,” “illegal, unconstitutional, null and void,” and its argument of accidental fire “opposed to the prima facie accepted facts on record.” Moreover, one high-level commission conducted by Justice Nanavati-Shah had been appointed by the Gujarat Government to probe the incident, two months earlier. The Court also did not miss the point that the interim report was released just two days before the elections in Bihar—the State of the Railways minister, well-known for his political ambitions and notorious for his histrionics. Politicians know no common sense or shame. But what about the judiciary?

The Nanavati Report  The first part of the Nanavati Report was released in September 2008, after four years of thorough investigations.21 It lifted the cloak of blame that had been wrapped around the Gujarati people all those years. It also cleared the most blackened Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. There is absolutely no evidence to show that either the Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers or Police officers had played any role in the Godhra incident or that there was any lapse on their part in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots or in the matter of not complying with the recommendations and directions given by National Human








involvement of any definite religious or political organization in the conspiracy. Some individuals who had participated in the conspiracy appear to be involved in the heinous act of setting coach S/6 on fire.

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 20

The policemen who were assigned the duty of travelling in the Sabarmati Express train from Dahod to Ahmedabad had not done so and for this negligent act of theirs an inquiry was held by the Government and they have been dismissed from service. On the basis of the facts and circumstances proved by the evidence the Commission comes to the conclusion that burning of coach S/6 was a pre-planned act. In other words there was a conspiracy to burn coach S/6 of the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and to cause harm to the Karsevaks travelling in that coach. All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy. The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and destabilise the Administration.22

Heartstrings for Whom?  It is easy to see why the Nanavati Report was frowned upon by Citizens for Justice and Peace, namely Activist Teesta Setalvad who asked the Supreme Court “to restrain the Gujarat Government from acting upon, circulating and publishing this report.” Fortunately on October 13, 2008, the highest court sharply turned down the petition, thus making the testimonies and inquiries available to all. However, under pressure from the UPA Government and pestered by the National Human Rights Commission and Citizens for Justice and Peace NGO, on October 21, 2008, the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan (whose tenure was marked by allegations of misbehaviour)23 directed that the Prevention of Terrorist Act (POTA) could not be used against the 134 accused in the Godhra train burning incident. The trial would have to be held under the regular provisions of the Indian Penal Code. This amounted to accepting prima facie that the guilty were not terrorists: we are allowed to call them “militants,” “gunmen”— but not terrorists. This ruling will have nationwide impact, as other State governments may have to

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 21

drop charges under POTA against those accused of indulging in terrorist activities. On February 22, 2011, out of 94 accused in the Sabarmati Express Burning Case, 31 were convicted by a special Fast Track Court inside the Sabarmati Central Jail; it awarded the death sentence to 11 and life imprisonment to 20.

Pattern for Harmony   This appears to be a pattern: whenever Muslim riots or bomb attacks target Hindus, it is thought acceptable to accuse the victims, in order to avoid possible revolts. Thus in 1993 in Mumbai, after eleven coordinated bomb blasts in Hindu majority areas, which killed 257 people and injured 713, the then Maharashtra Chief Minister Sharad Pawar quickly cooked up a twelfth explosion … in a Muslim area! “I have deliberately misled people,” he explained later, to show that both communities had been affected.”24 And to portray both communities’ potential to behave as “terrorists”. Truth and clarity of mind are the casualties. We remember the great art historian A.K. Coomaraswamy’s words in 1909: It is unfortunate that libels upon nations and religions cannot be punished as can libels upon individuals.25

Gujarat has had its share of suffering. The devastating Bhuj earthquake of January 2001, in which more than 20,000 people died preceded the attack on the pilgrims at Godhra in February 2002; just six months later, another terrorist attack struck Gandhinagar’s Akshardham temple, in which 30 peaceful worshippers were brutally gunned down (with 80 injured). Amidst those tragedies the people of Gujarat have continued to repose their trust in their Chief Minister, whose administration happens to be among the least corrupt in India. State elections have been held three times since those events: in 2002, 2007 and 2012; Narendra Modi won landslide victories all three times, despite hostile and sustained media campaigns that demonized him as a blood-thirsty ruler.

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 22

Official India has chosen to forget a millennium of Islamic intolerance and brutality. Millions of Indian victims have had no right to be remembered, not even in history textbooks, where invaders are sometimes turned into heroes. Sadly, this ostrich-like attitude leaves the wounds open and condemns us to relive the past rather than heal it.

 Nicole Elfi has been living in India since 1975. She worked on the publication of works related to Mother and Sri Aurobindo and researched aspects of Indian culture. She has authored Satprem, par un Fil de Lumière (Éditions Robert Laffont, 1998) and Aux Sources de l’Inde, l’initiation à la connaissance (Éditions Les Belles Lettres, 2008). Email: nicoleelfi [at ]

 © Nicole Elfi, 2009–15 (Published online February 2009, revised and updated, August 2014)

Notes & References 


See Commission of Inquiry Report of Justice G.T. Nanavati & Justice A.H. Mehta

(henceforth “Nanavati Report”), the integral text is available on the website of the Gujarat Government: (accessed June 2013). All unreferenced quotations below are from this Nanavati Report. See also S.K. Modi, Godhra the Missing Rage, Ocean Books, New Delhi, 2004. 2

One of the main vehicles was out of order, as its clutch-plates had been taken out a

few days earlier. On their arrival on 27.02.02 in their office, firemen found that the

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 23

other fire engine had been tampered with. From Nanavati Report; also Justice Tewatia Committee Report, online at: (accessed June 2013). 3

Rajeev Srinivasan, “Predatory intelligentsia”, 14 May, 2002,


Madhu Purnima Kishwar, “Modinama”, part 7: “When Congress State Governments

Snubbed Modi’s Request for Additional Police Force”, May 2013, online at: 5



Quoted in S.K. Modi, Godhra the Missing Rage, Ocean Books, New Delhi, 2004, pp. 65-

66. 7


See Balbir Punj in Outlook, May 27 and July 8; also in The New Indian Express, March 8,

2002. 9

See Vadodara Sessions Court, Best Bakery Case, Justice H.U. Mahida’s Judgement,

June 27, 2003. 10









at: (accessed June 2013). 11

Social activist and Secretary of the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, and co-editor of

Communalism Combat, a CPI–CPI(M) affiliated magazine. 12

Zaheera is not the only one to have sought police protection from activist Teesta

Setalvad. Rais Khan, her close associate for years, soon felt under threat and asked for it too. “Zaheera Sheikh a 'self-condemned liar': SC panel”, PTI, August 29, 2005, online at: (accessed June 2013).



“... Those who were both victims and eyewitnesses received 100,000 rupees, some

others 50,000 rupees, while the victims got a mere 5,000 rupees each. This has raised eyebrows over the selection of beneficiaries and the purpose of paying a disproportionately large sum to the eyewitnesses before the trial.” See Navin

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 24

Upadhyay, Daily Pioneer, Dec. 20, 2008: (accessed 2009) 15

This New York-based Human Rights Watch still watches the Indian shores closely,

as it appears, but not to protect innocent lives. On Dec. 3, 2008, just a week after the ghastly Nov. 26 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, HRW issued a statement to the Government of India, offering gratuitous advice on how to manage its affairs and demanding that investigators should respect the human rights of captured terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab (also called “Butcher of Mumbai”). A commentator in The Jerusalem Post pointed out, “The HRW’s website lists 38 reports attacking counter-terrorism efforts around the globe but only three on the brutal impact of terrorism on civilians.” See also Kanchan Gupta’s excellent article, “Mumbai’s Butcher and human rights,” in The Pioneer, Dec. 17, 2008, online at’sButcher-and-human-rights.html (accessed December 2008). 16

Council for International Affairs and Human Rights (governing body for the term

2001-2003), New Delhi. “Facts Speak for Themselves: Godhra and After,” A Field Study by Justice D.S. Tewatia, Dr. J.C. Batra, Dr. K. Singh Arya, Shri Jawahar Lal Kaul, Prof. B. K. Kuthiala (henceforth “Tewatia report”). 17

From Justice Tewatia Report.


The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) is a pro-Hindu organization.


The Sangh Parivar is a network of pro-Hindu organizations deriving from the

Rashtriya Sevak Sangh (RSS). 20

The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) is a coalition of political parties, the main one

being the Congress (I) presided over by Sonia Gandhi. 21

Among its specific tasks, the Nanavati Commission was required by the Government

to consider: “Role and conduct of the then Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his council of Ministers, Police Officers, other individuals and organizations in both the events referred to in clauses (a) and (b); (e) Role and conduct … (i) in dealing with any political or non-political organization which may be found to have been involved in any of the events referred to hereinabove; (ii) in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots (iii) in the matter of recommendations and directions given by National Human Rights Commission from

The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction / p. 25

time to time.” By that notification the Government also included within the scope of inquiry the incidents of violence that had taken place till 31-5-2002. 22

Nanavati Report.


For a few examples of allegations against K.G. Balakrishnan, see:  (accessed June 2013)  (accessed June 2013)  (accessed June 2013) Allegations continued during his tenure as Chairman of the National Human

Rights Commission (from 2010 onward). 24 25

The New Indian Express, August 13, 2006. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, Essays in National Idealism, Munshiram Manoharlal

Publishers, Delhi, 1981.

Extracts of Justice Nanavati-Shah Inquiry Commission report

(18 September 2008)

223. Ajay Bariya in his statements recorded by the police on 4.7.2002 and J.M.F.C. Godhra on 9.7.2002 has stated that on 27-2-2002, he had gone to Godhra railway station at about 7.00 a.m. After referring to the incident of Mohmad Latika, he has stated that after the chain was pulled and the train had stopped, he had gone out of the station. Shaukat Lalu had met him there and told him to run along with them. So he had gone with them to the backside of Aman Guest House. Shaukat and others had then gone inside the room of Razak Kurkur and come out with Kerbas. He was asked to put one Kerba in the rickshaw which was standing nearby. Petrol like smell was coming from it. Thereafter others had also come there with Kerbas and they were all kept in the tempy. All of them had then got into that vehicle which after passing through Bhamaiya nala and Ali Masjid had stood near the railway track near 'A' cabin. Each one of them was asked by Shaukat Lalu to carry one Kerba with him. At that time he had come to know that the train was to be set on fire. They had run towards the train through the foot track. He himself was reluctant go with those persons but Shaukat Lalu had compelled him to go along with them. He has then described in his statement how the coaches were attacked and coach S/6 was set on fire. According to him, Shaukat Lalu and Mohmad Latika had forcibly opened the sliding door of S/6 leading to coach S/7 and entered coach S/6 through that door. Hasan Lalu had thrown a burning rag which had led to the fire in S/6. 224. It is rightly pointed out by the Jan Sangharsh Manch that there was no prior information with the police and the authorities at Gandhinagar regarding the return journey of the Karsevaks from Ayodhya as can be gathered from the evidence of Mahobatsinh Zala (W-17), Raju Bhargav (W-31), DGP K.A. Chakravarti, Addl. DGP R.B. Shreekumar (W-995) and Ashok Narayanan, Chief Secretary, Home Department (W-994). Under the circumstances prevailing then, movements of Karsevaks was not a matter of concern. That

appears to be the reason, why the police had not thought it necessary to keep itself informed about (171) their movements. Merely because the police was not aware about the return journey of Karsevaks from Ayodhya, it would not follow therefrom that no one had known about their return journey from Ayodhya. Anyone who wanted to know about it could have obtained that information easily. Therefore, it would not be correct to say that there was no scope for any conspiracy, as the alleged conspirators did not know that Karsevaks were going to return from Ayodhya by that train. VHP had already announced earlier its plan of taking Ramsevaks to Ayodhya for the 'Purnahuti Maha Yagna'. 225. It is also true that some other train carrying Karsevaks going to Ayodhya had passed through Godhra railway station and the conspirators could have attacked them in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy to burn a coach carrying Ramsevaks and it was not necessary for them to wait till the morning of 27th February, 2002. Other possibilities cannot make doubtful what really has happened. Why the conspirators chose the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and why coach S/6 thereof was made the target, was obviously the result of many factors, including what was desired by and suitable to the conspirators. Unless the conspirators who took that decision disclose the real reason, it would be a matter of drawing an inference from the surrounding facts and circumstances. It appears that the decision to put the plan into action was taken on the previous evening. On 26.2.2002 at about 9.30 p.m. the first step for procuring petrol was taken. It is likely that the conspirators had decided to burn a coach of this train as it used to pass Godhra during the night. That would have enabled them to carry out their object without being noticed and identified. It appears that because the train was running late, they had to make some changes in their plan and circulate a false rumour regarding abduction of a Ghanchi Muslim girl. That was done in order to collect large number of persons near the train and induce them to attack it, so that they get sufficient time to go near the train with petrol. It was also an (172) attempt to show that what happened was done by an angry mob because of the earlier incidents which had taken place at the station. The mob

consisting of the general public would not have set coach S/6 on fire on the basis of the false rumour as their attempt in that case would have been to stop the train, search for the abducted girl and rescue her. 226. Ranjitsinh Jodhabhai Patel and Prabhatsinh Gulabsinh Patel serving at Kalabhai's petrol pump were present at the petrol pump on 26.2.2002 at about 10.00 p.m. Both of them have stated that at about that time Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala had come there and told Prabhatsinh to give them about 140 litres of petrol. Petrol was filled in the carboys which were brought in a tempy rickshaw. Prabhatsinh has further stated that Jabir Binyamin, Shaukat Lalu and Salim Jarda had come in the tempy. Both these witnesses have explained in their statements why they had earlier told the police that they had not given loose petrol to any one in a carboy on 26.2.2002. 227. On the basis of the facts and circumstances proved by the evidence the Commission comes to the conclusion that burning of coach S/6 was a preplanned act. In other words there was a conspiracy to burn coach S/6 of the Sabarmati Express train coming from Ayodhya and to cause harm to the Karsevaks travelling in that coach. 228. The confessions of Jabir Binyamin Behra, Shaukat alias Bhano son of Faruk Abdul Sattar and Salim alias Salman son of Yusuf Sattar Jarda have also been placed before the Commission for its consideration. Jabir Behra had made a confession before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Panchmahal District under section 164 of Cr.P.C. The confessions of Shaukat and Salim were recorded under the provisions of Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002. It was contended by the Jan (173) Sanghars Manch that the Commission should not consider the confessions of the accused as the findings that may be recorded by this Commission are likely to cause prejudice to the accused in the trial which is pending before the Sessions Court. This objection was raised at an earlier stage of inquiry and it was rejected by passing an order. …. The inquiry before by the Commission is a fact finding inquiry and therefore, the Commission can look into and consider any piece of evidence for finding out the correct facts provided it is satisfied about its correctness. (174)

229. Jabir Behra in his confession dated 5.2.2003 has stated that he had gone with Salim Panwala to the petrol pump of Kalabhai for bringing petrol. Though the carboys filled with petrol were kept in the guest house of Rajak Kurkur, Salim Panwala had then gone to the Station to inquire whether the train was on time or was running late. Returning there from he had informed them that the train was running late by about 4 hours. Therefore, he had gone to home. He had again gone back to Aman Guest House at about 6.00 o'clock in the morning of 27th. Along with Salim Panwala, Shaukat Lalu and others he had gone in the tempy along with carboys to a place near 'A' cabin. He has further stated that Mohmed Latika had cut the vestibule between coach S/6 and S/7 and entered the coach through that opening and he had also followed him. Both of them had then together by force opened the door of coach S/6. They had gone inside with two carboys. Shaukat Lalu had followed them and opened the door of coach on A cabin side. Through that door Imran Sheri, Rafik Batuk and Shaukat Lalu had come inside the coach with more carboys. Those carboys were thrown in the coach and immediately thereafter there was a fire in the coach. Shaukat Lalu has also in his confession dated 19.8.2003 given these details. Salim Jarda in his confession dated 20.06.2004 has also stated that he had accompanied Salim Panwala, Siraj Bala, Jabir and Shaukat Lalu while going to the petrol pump of Kalabhai at about 9.30 p.m. for procuring petrol. He has also referred to the message sent by the Maulvi Saheb. Since he was reluctant to take any further part in such a bad act Rajak Kurkur had not allowed him to go. He was forced to stay in one room of the Guest House. He has then stated that next day morning he, along with Jabir Behra, Irfan, Shaukat Lalu and others had put the petrol filled carboys in the tempy and gone near A cabin. Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala had also followed them. He had thereafter not taken any part in the attack on the train and had remained standing at some distance. All these three persons have retracted their (175) confessions but that by itself is not a good ground for throwing them out of consideration. When considered along with other facts proved by the evidence details given by this accused regarding the manner in which coach S/6 was burnt appear to be true. These confessions disclose that Rajak Kurkur and Salim Panwala were the two main

persons who had organized execution of the plan and that what was being done was according to what was planned earlier and the directions of Maulvi Umarji. All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy. The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and destabilise the Administration. 229. The Commission is required to consider the role and conduct of the then Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers, Police Officers other individuals and organizations in the Godhra incident (i) in dealing with any political or non-political organization which may be found to have been involved in the Godhra incident and also (ii) in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots and (iii) in the matter of recommendations and directions given by National Human Rights Commission from time to time. There is absolutely no evidence to show that either the Chief Minister and/or any other Minister(s) in his Council of Ministers or Police offices had played any role in the Godhra incident or that there was any lapse on their part in the matter of providing protection, relief and rehabilitation to the victims of communal riots or in the matter of not complying with the recommendations and directions given by National Human Rights Commission. There is no evidence regarding involvement of any definite religious (176) or political organization in the conspiracy. Some individuals who had participated in the conspiracy appear to be involved in the heinous act of setting coach S/6 on fire. 230. The policemen who were assigned the duty of travelling in the Sabarmati Express train from Dahod to Ahmedabad had not done so and for this negligent act of theirs an inquiry was held by the Government and they have been dismissed from service. Ahmedabad. (G.T. Nanavati) (Akshay H. Mehta) September 18, 2008 Chairman Member See the integral text on the website of the Gujarat

Government :

The Godhra Riots Postscript: The Masterminds Nicole Elfi October 2014 Note: This is a postscript to The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction, July 2013, by the same author.

In May this year, the people of India chose their Prime Minister. Over twelve years, several inquiry commissions — the Tewatia Committee (2010), the Nanavati Commission (2008), the Special Investigation Team (2011) under the Supreme Court — cleared Narendra Modi of all charges of having masterminded or, at least, encouraged the Godhra riots.1 Still, his detractors — politicians and ideology-driven activists in India, the US and Europe — have continued to label him “merchant of death”, “butcher”, “Nazi”, “fascist”, “murderer”, etc. Let us examine the facts and see whether they can point to the riot’s real mastermind.

The Role of Congress Members On 27 February 2002, when a coach of Hindu pilgrims returning from Ayodhya went up in flames at Godhra railway station, a Congress member of the Godhra municipality, Haji Balal, led a mob and stopped the fire-fighting vehicle on its way to the station. The fire crew reported that “he had been visiting the fire station at night for the past few days on the pretext of watching films on television.” Haji Balal, a few days earlier, had the clutch plates of one of the main fire-fighting vehicles removed; in the second vehicle, the nut connecting the pipe to the water tank was spirited away.2 Haji Balal who, according to locals, proudly proclaimed himself the “Bin Laden of Godhra”, is among eleven people convicted for criminal conspiracy and murder and sentenced to death by a special fast track court in the highsecurity Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad on 22 February 2011.3

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 2

Other Congress members were also “booked for the carnage”.4 The attack on the pilgrims was carried out “according to what was planned earlier under the directions of [the late] Maulvi Umarji”,5 a religious leader of the Ghanchi Muslims of Godhra.6 “All the acts like procuring petrol, circulating false rumour, stopping the train and entering in coach S/6 were in pursuance of the object of the conspiracy,” concluded the Nanavati Report. “The conspiracy hatched by these persons further appears to be a part of a larger conspiracy to create terror and destabilise the Administration.”7 “Destabilise the Administration”: Narendra Modi had assumed office as Gujarat Chief Minister on 7 October 2001, four months earlier. Incidentally, Maulvi Umarji got a ticket to campaign for the Congress in December 2002 state election in Gujarat. In order to quickly gather a crowd of angry Muslims to the Godhra station and attack the train, so that no one would guess who was pouring petrol in the S6 and S7 coaches, rumours that a Ghanchi Muslim girl had been abducted by the Kar Sevaks were spread by the Jamiat-Ulema-E-Hind (JUH), a long-standing ally of the Congress.8 From the start of the crisis, Narendra Modi appealed to the people to remain calm and exert self-control. On five occasions between 27 and 28 February, “CM addressed Media, Assembly and General public and everywhere the genesis and intention was one and the same, to punish the culprits responsible for the Godhra incident in an exemplary manner, so that it did not recur ever again.”9 He announced an ex-gratia payment of 200,000 rupees to the next of kin of those killed in the Godhra incident and ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident.10 On 1st March, less than two days after the tragedy and while riots were raging, Modi requested the chief secretaries of neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to send ten companies of armed police from each state to assist the government in “handling law and order situation”. As the sociologist and author Madhu Kishwar points out,11 all three states then had Congress governments, and all three turned down the request.

The Campaign Let us recall that the BJP-led NDA alliance had been in power at the Centre since 1998, confirmed by fresh elections in 1999. A 15-million-rupee campaign

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 3

by journalist-activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, funded by the Congress Party and Communists to “politically isolate the BJP”,12 failed to convince the Indian people, who voted the BJP to power. And the crusaders had to swallow the obvious — that the streets of India remained peaceful during the NDA regime.13 They however found a fertile ground in the US, especially with the evangelical lobbies.14 On 1st April 2002 Teesta Setalvad created “Citizens for Justice and Peace” (CJP), an NGO “outsourced by the Congress to the job of attacking Modi”, as Madhu Kishwar put it.15 The activists approached the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a U.S. government-funded body, with known roots in the evangelical movement, whose “original intention was to protect Christians around the world ... to review facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally — and to make policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and the Congress”.16 Testifying before the USCIRF, Teesta Setalvad alleged that the BJP had conducted: successful pogroms and attacks against the countries religious minorities, ... recent state-sponsored Genocide of the Muslim Community in Gujarat ... Brutal destruction of life, through rape, quartering of bodies, urinating on them and incarcerating [sic] them so that there is no trace or evidence of their remains ... desecrating over 270 religious and cultural shrines belonging to the community ... through systematic planning and targeted action by armed militias ideologically driven by the vision of a supreme and exclusive Hindu rashtra (state). ... Over 2,000 lost their lives, 500 are missing and 250-300 girls and women were gang-raped before being quartered, burned and killed.17

This “testimony” from India is what fed countless self-styled human rights organizations and intellectuals in India and in the West. They drank in Setalvad’s words and regurgitated them as articles and “reports” with a plethora of gory details. As regards the number of riot victims, invariably quoted in thousands, the then Police Commissioner P.C. Pande, in a statement to the Special Investigating Team, declared, ... it was incorrect to say that 1000 people lost their lives in Ahmedabad City during the riots of 2002, whereas the actual number of deaths between February 28th 2002 and April 30th 2002 was 442, of whom 113

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 4

were Hindus and 329 Muslims. ... All offences committed were duly and properly registered including by sending police officers to relief camps and therefore, no important crime remained unregistered.18

According to the Congress-led UPA government’s statement in Parliament on 11 May 2005, the final figures of those killed in the Godhra riots are 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.19 In any case, the endlessly repeated figure of “2000 Muslim victims” has no basis in actual fact.

The SIT and Sanjeev Bhatt Facts cannot so easily be wished away. And they were nailed by the Nanavati Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief R.K. Raghavan in response to a petition filed by Jakia Nasim, Ehsan Jafri’s20 widow, and Teesta Setalvad, which alleged criminal conspiracy by Narendra Modi’s government.21 Jakia Nasim’s testimony before the Nanavati Commission and Supreme Court in 2002 and 2003 was that “the mob would have lynched all of them but for the timely action by the police”. Four years later, her praise turned into complaint — except that the poor lady was not even aware of what she complained or petitioned about: “She has no personal knowledge of the allegations mentioned in the affidavits filed by R.B. Sreekumar during the years 2002, 2004 and 2005 on his own”, said the SIT.22 Let us explain: The SIT, appointed on 23 March 2008, investigated two retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, one of them being R.B. Sreekumar just mentioned, to whom we will shortly return. The second one, Sanjeev Bhatt, then Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence in the Gujarat government, claimed after years of silence that he was present at a law and order meeting convened by the Chief Minister on 27 February night at his residence. At this meeting, which lasted 15-20 minutes, Sanjeev Bhatt claims that the Chief Minister said that “for too long the Gujarat police had been following the approach of balancing the action against Hindus and Muslims ... that the situation warranted that the Muslims be taught a lesson, ... it was imperative that Hindus be allowed to vent out their anger....”23 As it turned out, none of the officials present even remembered the presence of Sanjeev Bhatt. Interrogated independently later, they denied any such talk by the Chief Minister, who, they asserted, said instead that the

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 5

Godhra flare-up was very unfortunate and should be handled with a firm hand. The discussions centred around maintenance of law and order in view of the call for a bandh on the next day and the availability of forces. Ahmedabad Police Commissioner P.C. Pandey categorically stated that no instructions to allow any freedom to law-breakers were given by the Chief Minister. According to Prakash S. Shah, then Additional Secretary (Law & Order), the Chief Minister instructed all the officers that “communal peace and harmony be maintained at all costs and all possible steps be taken to control the possible communal flareup.”24 As for Sanjeev Bhatt’s testimony, the SIT called fax messages produced by him “not genuine”, “forged document, fabricated subsequently by someone with a vested interest.”25 “This conduct of Shri Sanjiv [sic] Bhatt in arranging, prompting and controlling the witness [a witness produced by him] to corroborate his statement is highly suspicious and undesirable.”26 And from the location of his mobile phone, his claim of being present at the said meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence proved to be false. “Shri Sanjiv Bhatt is a tainted witness and therefore, cannot be relied upon keeping in view his background in the police department as he was involved in criminal cases of serious nature and departmental inquiries are also in progress against him.”27 Cases against him included inflicting torture in custody leading to death, abduction, extortion and unprovoked firing, killings and planting narcotics with a view to blackmail. SIT head R.K. Raghavan concluded that Bhatt had lied and brought in tutored witnesses to falsely implicate Modi.28 The Gujarat Vigilance Commission recommended his suspension twice (on 15-07-2002 and 19-10-2006) for professional misconduct, but each time he managed to evade prosecution.29 A last brush stroke on Sanjeev Bhatt’s erratic comportment is given by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani in a Sunday Guardian article. The man “handed over charge and his official computer, leaving all his emails in an unprotected mode for all to read”… The state government forwarded the material to the SIT for investigations, and thanks to this irresponsible gesture, authorities harvested details of his “hobnobbing with the Opposition Congress party in a thoroughly illegal and almost seditious manner to concoct evidence against the Chief Minister and the state of Gujarat”. To this end Bhatt was in constant touch with top Congress party leaders, from whom he received not only guidance, but “packages” and “materials”, as per his own statement.30

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 6

An Activist’s Career Activist Teesta Setalvad built a successful career on the Godhra issue and on demonizing Narendra Modi, for which she has been covered with national and international awards. Let us mention just a few: •

In August 2002, the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana [Communal Harmony] Award instituted by the Congress (I), jointly with Harsh Mander (former IAS officer and NAC board member)31, “for their outstanding contribution towards communal harmony and national integration”.

In 2003, the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award (jointly with Ibn Abdur Rehman, a Pakistani “peace and human-rights advocate and veteran communist from Pakistan”).32

The New York-based Parliamentarians for Global Action’s 2004 Defenders’ of Democracy Award, for her efforts “to ensure justice for the victims of the genocide in Gujarat.

In 2006, the Nani Palkhivala Award. In her acceptance speech, Setalvad was all praise for an IPS officer to whom she dedicates her award, someone “who stood mighty in the face of a murderous and vindictive Gujarat administration.”33

In 2007, the Padma Shri Award from the Government of India, which since May 2004 had been run by a Congress-led coalition.

The ISRO Spy Scandal The IPS officer praised by Setalvad (and referred to earlier by the SIT) is R.B. Sreekumar. He is remembered for the 1994 Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) spy scandal which implicated eminent ISRO scientists. Dust may have smothered the case with time but not the memory of those who were falsely accused. The story in brief: Development of the Indian [rocket’s] upper stage had been underway with Russian help for four years when the arrangements were denounced by American President George Bush as a violation of the Missile Technology Control Regime. … In May 1992, the Bush administration announced that it was applying American sanctions on both the ISRO and Glavcosmos [the Russian agency collaborating with ISRO].34

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 7

S. Nambi Narayan, a senior scientist at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, an ISRO centre at Trivandrum (Kerala), was arrested on 30 November 1994 without any search being conducted at his office or home. Harassed and tortured, he refused to confess to the charge of selling defence secrets to two alleged Maldivian spies; he also refused to implicate the director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. Nambi Narayan collapsed under the torture and was hospitalized. He was released after fifty days in custody. A colleague of his, D. Sasikumaran, was similarly arrested and interrogated. The two Maldivian women and two businessmen were also arrested and implicated. Upon his release on 19 January 1995, Nambi Narayan was transferred out of Trivandrum; ISRO reinstated him and promoted him as director of Advanced Technology and Planning, but he was now a broken man. The case was investigated by the CBI. A year later, in April 1996, its report indicted the Intelligence Bureau (IB) as the main organization responsible for creating an imaginary spy ring and falsely implicating the two eminent space scientists (besides two Maldivian women who were framed as “spies”). The CBI came down heavily on nine IB officials for “acting in an unprofessional manner and being privy to the arrest of six innocent persons, thereby causing them immense mental and physical agony”. The information collected by the IB and the Kerala police was “not only false but was forcefully extracted from the six accused”.35 The CBI filed its closure report on April 30, 1996, recommending that the accused be discharged, and necessary action taken against the IB officials and the Kerala Police.36 Several IB officers were, according to the CBI report, responsible for this unprecedented frame-up, especially: •

IB Director D.C. Pathak managed to get the espionage case registered under the Indian Official Secrets Act 1923, “so that the case would get a trans-national dimension, even though the Act makes it clear that the Kerala Police have no legal right to do so”, as highlighted by the Kerala High Court and Supreme Court of India. Pathak advised the Kerala Director General of Police (DGP) to constitute a Special Investigation Team (SIT); he also “informed” the then ISRO Chairman, K. Kasturirangan, that “incriminating documents had been seized from the scientists”.37 Pathak was indicted by the CBI in 1996 and sacked.

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 8

Rattan Seghal had joined the IB as additional director five months before S. Nambi Narayan’s arrest. In November 1996, Seghal was “caught redhanded” by the then IB chief Arun Bhagath while having a secret rendezvous with two undercover CIA agents to hand over sensitive information about India’s Atomic Energy Commission. He was dismissed from service, but allowed to escape and settle in America.38

R.B. Sreekumar was an IPS officer seconded to the Central Industrial Security Force, and posted as commandant in charge of security of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre where Nambi Narayan was working. “The USA, with its excellent information gathering machinery, got wind of what was going on inside VSSC, and put the CIA on the job of sabotaging the cryogenic project,” writes Sam Rajappa.39 At the time of Nambi Narayan’s arrest, Sreekumar was posted as Rattan Seghal’s deputy. Despite being indicted by the CBI, Sreekumar was in 1998 awarded a “Medal for Distinguished Service” by the Government of India. We will return to him soon as he was probably the main player in the plot.

In Kerala’s Congress-led government (UDF), infighting raged between two camps over the ISRO Spy case. Chief Minister K. Karunakaran being no party to the spy story, he was forced to step down in March 1995 as he refused to drop charges against the IB officials implicated in the case. With A.K. Antony replacing him, the said officials were not prosecuted. A change of regime followed in favour of the Communists; the new government issued a notification to reopen investigations into the ISRO spy case, and it was to be investigated by the same IB officials!40 On 29 April 1998, the Supreme Court reprimanded the Kerala Government for ordering yet another investigation by the State police after an inquiry by the CBI had found that the allegations of espionage were false and the accused had been ordered to be released. It quashed the notification for being “patently invalid … and issued with malafide intention.”41 In 1998 the first work illuminating the story in detail came out — and almost instantly vanished from the shelves. In an article about his book Spies in Space: The ISRO Frame-up, J. Rajasekharan Nair author pertinently asks: What about the charge that the cryogenic missile technology was transferred from ISRO to enemy countries? To begin with, India does

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 9

not have cryogenic technology even today [in 2013]. How could then, in 1994, ‘spies’ transfer this non-existent technology? ... 42

Prof. Nambi Narayanan echoes those words in a recent interview to Rediff: ... at that time, we had not developed cryogenic technology, how can you sell a non-existent technology?43

In September 1999, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered the Kerala government to pay an interim compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs (one million) out of 1 crore (10 millions) to Nambi Narayan “for having damaged Narayanan’s distinguished career in space research along with the physical and mental torture to which he and his family were subjected.” A division bench of the Kerala high court upheld the order. But Kerala’s Congress-led government managed to block the payment, till Nambi Narayanan finally won a case for a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs which he received in September 2012 — 18 years after his arrest. R.B. Sreekumar was sent back to his parent institution in Gujarat in August 2000. Disciplinary proceedings against him were started in 1999, but only on 29 January 2004 was he served a chargesheet by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The charges included: •

Illegally taking into custody the accused persons from the custody of Kerala Police without completing the legal formalities and conducting an independent investigation totally disassociating the Kerala Police.

Torturing/ill-treating the accused persons during the investigation. Consequently, no written statement was recorded.

The interrogation statements prepared by Sreekumar’s team were left unsigned and undated, indicating devious intent.

Failing to conduct verification of the statements of the accused persons ... which reflects lack of proper supervision, integrity to duty ...44

Without examining those implicated in the case, the investigations against Sreekumar, which involved charges of endangering national security, saw his file rush to closure in just 43 days, from 13 December 2004 to 24 January 2005: Sreekumar was cleared of all charges.45 In 2008, the UPA government granted him in addition the Gangadharan Memorial Award for Best Police

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 10

Man, for his “courageous and competent performance of duties” during the 2002 Gujarat riots. He was invited with Teesta Setalvad for a lecture tour to the US, organized by the Indian Muslim Council-USA, to deliver discourses against Narendra Modi and the state of Gujarat, disregarding all evidence and investigations.46 The same Congress-led Kerala government blocked all the CBI recommendations against IB and police officials, till it ordered closure of the file, fifteen years having conveniently passed since the case was initiated.47 However, on 20 October 2014, on an appeal from an indomitable Nambi Narayanan, Justice Ramakrishna Pillai of Kerala High Court quashed the order exonerating three police officials involved in the case.48 Let us see whether they will finally be prosecuted and face justice — and not only these three but all those responsible for trying to wreck India’s space programme at the behest of a foreign power.

Cooked-Up Affidavits The UPA government cleared Sreekumar of the CBI charges against him but not without a quid pro quo: he became an ideal “prime witness” in the 2002 Godhra riots. When questioned by the Nanavati Commission before 2005, Sreekumar had never made any allegation against the Gujarat Chief Minister. He even submitted a letter “raising questions over Sanjeev Bhatt’s integrity for speaking up against Narendra Modi”. But from 9 April 2005 onward, with his third affidavit to the Nanavati Commission, he joined Bhatt’s and Setalvad’s demonization of the Gujarat administration.49 However, the Supreme Court’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) inquiring into the Godhra events found the allegations in Sreekumar’s affidavits to be “vague”, “too general in nature, [with] nothing specific against any individual police officer.”50 Sreekumar’s testimony was based on an “unauthorised register” which appeared only in 2005, with entries noted down from memory, including Narendra Modi’s alleged oral instructions to encourage riots between Hindus and Muslims. The SIT observed that disclosure was made about the said register only “after he was denied promotion.”51 “The register ... cannot be considered to be a reliable document, as the same appears motivated and no credence can be placed upon the same. Moreover there is no

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 11

corroboration to the oral version of R.B. Sreekumar by any of the independent witnesses. The allegation is, therefore, not established.”52 Besides, the SIT found twenty-two “witnesses” whose signed affidavits were drafted, typed and printed on the same computer: their signatories were not even aware of what they signed regarding the alleged incidents.53 Euros and US dollars flowed to Teesta Setalvad’s NGO. Among the donors were the Netherland-based Humanistic Institute for Co-Operation with the Developing Countries (HIVOS), the ever-ready Ford Foundation, etc...54 A statement of financial transactions of Teesta Setalvad and her NGOs, obtained through a Right to Information petition, revealed how she went from “rags to riches after 2000 Gujarat riots. A person who was not in a position to deposit even Rs. 500 in her account continuously for two years (from 1st Jan., 2001 to 31st Dec, 2002), could manage to get deposit of Rs. 1.49 crores in her account and Rs. 92.21 Lakhs into her husband Javed Anand’s account after Gujarat 2002 riots.”55

Following the Clues Answers to these questions point to the real masterminds of the Godhra events: •

Who gave orders to the Congress-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan to deny Gujarat the help it was urgently asking for to control the riots?

“Tainted witness” Sanjeev Bhatt having “lied and brought in tutored witnesses to falsely implicate Modi,”56 the Gujarat Vigilance Commission recommended his suspension twice (on 15-07-2002 and 19-10-2006) for professional misconduct: who helped him evade prosecution each time?57

Who instructed the IB and Kerala police officers to frame ISRO scientists, thereby putting a brake on India’s space programmes?

From 1994 to 2014, who shielded the IB officials and the Kerala police from being prosecuted, contrary to the CBI’s recommendations?

In particular, who shielded Sreekumar in the ISRO spy case and enlisted his cooperation in the demonization of Narendra Modi?

Who in the previous UPA government decided not to prosecute Teesta Setalvad for perjury, arranging false witnesses and fabricated affidavits, and for misappropriating funds intended for riot victims?

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 12

Years ago, while campaigning in Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi had accused Narendra Modi of being a “merchant of death”. Let the reader decide who best deserves this designation.

 Nicole Elfi has been living in India since 1975. She worked on the publication of works related to Mother and Sri Aurobindo and researched aspects of Indian culture. She wrote two books in French: Satprem, par un Fil de Lumière (Éditions Robert Laffont, 1998) and Aux Sources de l’Inde, l’initiation à la connaissance (Éditions Les Belles Lettres, 2008). More recently, Nicole Elfi has authored the document The Godhra Riots: Sifting Fact from Fiction and co-authored (with Michel Danino) a research paper, A Timeline of Ayodhya. Email: nicoleelfi[at]gmail[dot]com

 © Nicole Elfi, 2014

Notes & References From Commission of Inquiry Report of Justice G.T. Nanavati & Justice A.H. Mehta (henceforth “Nanavati Report”), p. 175: 229. The report is available on the website of the Gujarat government: (accessed May 2014). 1

From Justice Tewatia Committee Report, short for Gujarat Riots: The True Story; Facts Speak for Themselves – Godhra and After, A Field Study by Justice D. S. Tewatia, Dr. J.C. Batra, Dr. Krishan Singh Arya, Shri Jawahar Lal Kaul, Prof. B.K. Kuthiala. Council for International Affairs and Human Rights, Governing Body for the Term 2001-03. See “Staff of the Fire Brigade”. Online at: (retrieved June 2014). Also Nanavati Report, p. 86, 88, 89: 128, 130-131. 2

Dasgupta, M. 2011. “11 get death in Godhra train burning case”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). 3

Among them, President of the District Congress Committee, Farooq Malla and Congress activist of Godhra Municipality, Abdul Rehman Dhatia. Tewatia Report, “Fifty-Eight Pilgrims Roasted Alive”. 4


Nanavati Report, p. 159-160: 214; p. 175.

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 13

Gujarat’s minister of state for home Amit Shah’s interview by Sheela Bhatt, 27.02.2003, online at: (retrieved June 2014). 6


Nanavati Report, p. 175: 229.


Nanavati Report, pp 40-41: 51-52, p. 49: 68; pp. 158-159: 213.

Special Investigation Team (SIT) Report, p. 241. The Supreme Court handed over all records pertaining to 2002 riots to SIT on 20.01.2010; SIT submitted its final report on Modi’s role in 2002 Gujarat riots, on 25.04.2011. 9


SIT p. 21.

Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 7, When Congress State Governments Snubbed Modi’s Request for Additional Police Force”, online at: (retrieved May 2014). 11

Wikipedia, Communalism Combat: . “In a 1999 interview, Javed Anand said that before the 1999 Lok Sabha elections, his monthly magazine Communalism Combat (published by Sabrang Communications since August 1993) requested and received funds from the Congress Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India and ten individuals to run advertisements attacking the Sangh Parivar and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”.


See Elst, K. & Rao, R.N. 2002. Gujarat after Godhra: Real Violence, Selective Outrage, Har-Anand, Delhi.


See Balakrishna, S. 2014. “Narendra Modi’s visa denial still an unhealed wound” online at: %28India+Facts%29#sthash.uTktS3o8.IyfIObzy.dpbs (retrieved May 2014). 14

Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama” 13, “RB Shreekumar: Hero No. 2 of Secular Brigade” - Part I, online at: (retrieved May 2014). 15

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF): (retrieved May 2014). 16

Teesta Setalvad’s testimony to the USCIRF, online at: 6102002_setalvaTestimony.html (retrieved June 2014) 17


SIT pp. 92-93.

See “Gujarat Riots: the true story”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). 19

Narendra Modi’s interview for Seedhi Baat/Aaj Tak, in India Today, 04.11.2002, online at: (retrieved July 2014). About Ehsan Jafri see Elfi, N. 2013. “The Godhra Riots: Sifting Facts from Fiction”, online at: . 20


SIT pp. 16, 18-19.


SIT p. 16.

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 14


SIT pp. 22-25.


SIT pp. 25-27, 34, 522.


SIT pp. 523-530.


SIT p. 41.


SIT p. 241.

SIT pp. 540-41. Also Dasgupta, M. 2012. “SIT rejects amicus curiae's observations against Modi”, online at: (retrieved June 2014). 28

SIT pp. 48-51. Kishwar, M.P. 2013. “Modinama 6, Heroes of the Secular Brigade: A Glimpse into the Doings and Misdoings of Sanjiv Bhatt”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). 29

Jethmalani, R. 2011. “UPA, media have a brazen mission to demonize Modi”, online at: (retrieved July 2014). Also Kishwar 2013: 6, op. cit. 30

The National Advisory Council (2004-2014) was a body set up by the first UPA government to advise the Prime Minister of India. Sonia Gandhi served as its Chairperson from its inception to its end. 31

Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, online at: . 32

Teesta Setalvad “Nani A Palkhivala Award 2006 Acceptance Speech”, online at: (retrieved June 2014). 33

Harvey, B. 2001. Russia in Space: The Failed Frontier, p. 259, Springer & Praxis Publications, UK, in Kishwar 2013: 13 – I, op. cit. & Kishwar 2013: 13 - II, “How India’s Space Program was Sabotaged”, online at:; also Simha, R.K. 2013. “How India’s cryogenic programme was wrecked”, online at: 65.html (retrieved July 2014). 34

Joshi, R., et al. 1998. “IB Imagined Spy-Ring: CBI” online at: (retrieved July 2014). Also Kishwar 2013: 13 - II, op. cit. 35


Joshi, R., et al. 1998, op. cit.


Rajasekharan Nair, ibid.

“Plot behind arrest of ISRO scientists, says Nambi Narayanan”, The New Indian Express, 27.8.2013, online at: (retrieved August 2014); Rajasekharan Nair 2013, op. cit.; Rajappa, S., “A scandal that ISRO would like to forget”, 24 October 2014, online at (retrieved October 2014). 38


Rajappa, S., op. cit.

“Rogue cop RB Srikumar framed ISRO’s best”, Niticentral, 7.11.2013. Online at: 40

The Godhra Riots — Postscript: The Masterminds / p. 15


Rajasekharan Nair, ibid.

Rajasekharan Nair, J. 2013. “Why My Book Didn’t Sell?”, online at: (retrieved October 2014). 42

Warrier, S. 2014. “Wronged ISRO scientist: India will be safe in Modi’s hands”, online at: (retrieved August 2014); Ananthakrishnan, G. 2012. “Memories of a ‘spy’ who won - Framed scientist vindicated on milestone-eve”, The Telegraph, online at 43


In Kishwar 2013: 13-I, op. cit. Also CBI recommendations in Joshi, R., et al. 1998, op. cit.


Kishwar, ibid.

Indian Muslim Council - USA Organizes US Lecture Tour of Teesta Setalvad & R.B. Sreekumar July 7, 2008, online at: 46

Venugopal 2012, “ISRO case: police officers freed of charges”, online at: (retrieved August 2014). 47

“Kerala High Court quashes government order in ISRO spy case” online at: . 48


Kishwar 2013: 13-I, op.cit.


SIT pp. 18 ff and 176-177.


SIT pp. 85, 170-173.


SIT pp. 65-71.


SIT p. 16-19, 64, 227-233.

“Teesta Setalvad received US $ 250,000 from the Ford Foundation”; “Evidence against Teesta Setalvad”, Dharma next, 6.8.2012, online at: (retrieved July 2014). 54

News Bharati, 7.1.2013, “Rags to riches after 2000 Gujarat riots: Teesta swallowed riot victims’ money?” Online at: (accessed August 2014). 55

SIT p. 540-41. Also Dasgupta, M. 2012. “SIT rejects amicus curiae’s observations against Modi”: (retrieved June 2014) 56


SIT pp. 48-50.