Open Letter To Narendra Modi: Bring Expeditious Justice To 2002 Riot Victims
By R.B. Sreekumar
07 January, 2014
An appeal for initiation of concrete measures for expeditious justice delivery and genuine relief and rehabilitation of 2002 communal riot victims in Gujarat state.
Respected Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji,
The unequivocal expression of deep pain and anguish by you about limitless human agony during 2002 protracted communal riots in Gujarat , in your thousand word blog-post has evoked widespread hope, optimism and expectation among riot victim survivors and Government functionaries, who are still persecuted and victimized for performing their mandatory duties diligently. You had claimed that “I had to single handedly focus all the strength given to me by Almighty on the task of peace, justice and rehabilitation, burying the pain and agony I was personally wracked with” . But the ground reality is dismal and frustrating because much remains to be done to ensure establishment and consolidation of durable peace, adequate social cohesion and genuinely intrinsic rehabilitation and resettlement of riot victim survivors in the pre-riot conditions.
There are sound grounds and obvious reasons for doubting your declaration about your commitment to maintain public order and protect minorities in the days of communal disturbances in 2002. Firstly, “the mindless violence of 2002” (to use your terminology), on a ghastly scale, was enacted only in two Commissionerates (Ahmedabad and Vadodara cities) and 11 districts (in all there were 30 police administrative units – districts – in Gujarat in 2002 February – March). In the remaining 19 units (2 Commissionerates and 17 districts, there were no manslaughter in 11 districts and casualties were negligible in 6 districts and Commisionerates of Surat and Rajkot cities. Significantly, loss of lives in 2002 riots in these areas were lesser than deaths in the previous riots, particularly during post Babri Masjid demolition disturbances. The illustrative case is of Surat city, where nearly 300 people were killed in the post Babri Masjid demolition riots in 1992, while there were only 7 killings in 2002. The Commissioners of Police, District Magistrates and Supdts. Of Police in areas of nil or negligible violence had scrupulously implemented the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) and taken effective administrative and operational measures, sending a clear message to rioters and activists of Sangh Parivar that police would not act as abettors and collaborators in the perpetration of anti-minority pogrom. This was a vital factor responsible for the lesser violence in these regions.
None can find any veracity and validity in your unsubstantiated claim that you had “to single handedly focus all the strength … on the task of peace, justice and rehabilitation”. In fact, many of the conscientious and effective law enforcers were transferred in the thick of riots (March 2002) by you and they were given shabby treatment afterwards. Transfer of Rahul Sharma (Supdt. of Police – Bhavnagar district), M D Anthany (Bharuch), Vivek Shrivastava (Kutch) and Himanshu Bhat (Banaskantha), in March 2002 was reportedly for not implementing the covert anti-minority agenda of the Sangh Parivar during the riots. These officers were also allegedly intimidated by the state government for not revealing anything specific about their operational strategies, grass root level tactics and purposeful micro-management methodology adopted for achieving durable maintenance of public order and total normalcy in their jurisdiction, to the JNC, probing into riots and other investigating bodies. So, except Rahul Sharma, none has revealed truth about their meritorious ways of handling riots to the JNC. Had they narrated the nuances of their success stories, the non-performers, abettors, facilitators of riots and enablers of criminals, who unleashed mass violence against minority (nearly 2000 people killed and 500 odd Islamic socio-cultural and religious monuments built from the 16 th century onwards were destroyed), could have been exposed and brought under the clutches of law.
By the end of year 2002, nearly 40,000 riot victim survivors were dwelling in sub-human habitats, without basic amenities, due to opposition from local militant Hindu sections to their resettlement in the pre-riot residential areas and intentional neglect by the state authorities, in violation of measures envisaged in Govt. regulations about rehabilitation and resettlement of disaster affected people. However, by the middle of 2013, about 30,300 persons were rehabilitated, thanks exclusively to the sincere efforts by the NGOs. Still, as on today, nearly 8,700 people are forced to stay in the unhealthy ambience, deprived of even standard basic facilities, normally extended to those below the poverty line by the Government. Media often has projected their plight, but your Government remained inhumanly insensitive to the pitiable and pathetic living conditions of these citizens. This is the painful naked and bitter truth about the status of rehabilitation of riot affected, in Gujarat , despite your articulation of compassion for them.
Honorable Chief Minister Sir, you should not hide under the deceptive self projected canopy of propaganda, by not recognizing the ground realities during riots because communication system through police and home department control rooms had provided you hourly situation reports about communal disturbances. Who will then believe your claim that you were not aware of many grass root level conditions?
Another deplorable policy of your government is towards your collaborators in mass action against minorities. Practically all chief facilitators of anti-minority massacre in administrative bureaucracy and police were rewarded by you with prestigious postings, during riots, out of turn promotions and important post retirement assignments, Nearly seven IAS officers and seventeen IPS officers were favored for their “loyalty” to you and being committed to your hidden agenda, and not to their oath to the Constitution of India. Significantly, practically all of them had avoided filing affidavits to the JNC regarding additional Terms of Reference dated 20 th July 2004 , on the role of CM and senor bureaucrats in the riots. No departmental action was initiated against them for their flagrant violation of SOP narrated in numerous governmental regulations, Gujarat Police Manual (GPM), judgments of higher judiciary and recommendations of judicial commissions.
In contrast is your persistent harassment and victimization of 3 IPS officers, namely R. B. Sreekumar, former DGP, Rahul Sharma, DIG and Sanjeev Bhat, suspended DIG, who have provided truthful evidence, since July 2002, about the culpable role by you, Govt. officials and the Sangh Parivar in riots, subversion of the Criminal Justice System (CJS), unprofessional investigation of riot cases by Gujarat police and fake encounters. On the basis of evidence by one of them the Central Election Commission (CEC) had deemed the data presented by the state government on the public order situation and rehabilitation of riot affected victims as false in its order dated 16 th August 2002 . The CEC had tasked the State government to satisfy certain conditions before deciding about the time schedule of state assembly elections in 2002, after rejecting the state government's proposed election schedule. All these officers were superseded in promotion and numerous departmental proceedings were started against them from 2004 onwards. These disciplinary actions are not closed even after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Ahmedabad had quashed charges against some of them. After the retirement of one of these officers in February 2007, a case of departmental proceeding is still vigorously pursued by the state government.
On the other hand, senior officers in the rank of Dy. SP to DGP and Taluka Magistrate to Chief Secretary, who had acted as enablers and abettors of rioters and impeded prompt and proper justice delivery to the riot victims, through numerous deliberate acts of omission and commission or criminal negligence of duties were not even asked to explain for their failure to implement SOP delineated in GPM, booklet on containment of communal riots by DGP Joseph, Central Govt. circulars captioned “Communal peace” etc.
Do these facts give any credibility to your affirmation in the blog about your empathy and sensitivity for the riot victims?
In this context, following the letter and spirit of Article 51(A) of our Constitution, I appeal to you to immediately initiate the following concrete administrative measures (most of them are mandatory) to establish that you are really considerate and sympathetic to the riot affected and to those government officials tortured and tormented by your government since 2004, for their “sin” of not supporting illegal and unethical covert plans of you and the Sangh Parivar against the minority population, in violation of the cannons of the Rule of Law.
In February 2012, Hon' High Court of Gujarat indicted the Sate Government for its failure to protect Islamic monuments during the riots, and directed the government for their reconstruction. The total destruction of the famous Dargah of Sufi saint and Urdu poet, Vali Gujarati, located in front of Ahmedabad Police Headquarters by brigands is an inerasable black mark on the image of Ahmedabad city police. Strangely, your Government instead of implementing the High Court orders had gone for appeal to the Apex Court…………. In this matter, acting in pursuance of your widely expressed regrets about riots, please withdraw the petition challenging the High Court orders and start rebuilding of all Islamic monuments destroyed by the Sangh Parivar-led rioters.
Secondly, constitute a Special Task Force (STF) for identifying and properly rehabilitating riot victim survivors who had become orphans and refugees in their own motherland – nearly 8700 persons are dwelling in unhealthy slums at the cost of their health, human dignity and socio – economic empowerment.
Thirdly, please constitute a team of officers from Police, Law and Home departments to probe into lopsided implementation of the Apex Court order of 2004 for reinvestigation of 2000 odd riot cases closed by Gujarat Police by not even issuing a statutory notice to the complainants. It was an unprecedented move by the Apex Court in the judicial history of India . Reportedly only less than 35 cases could be charge sheeted and in the rest the police had filed closure reports as in most of these cases main witnesses, even the complainants, who provided FIRs, had turned hostile. It is a shame on the CJS of Gujarat , particularly for the senior police officers, home and law departments and public prosecutors. So far, no action against police officers, who allegedly pressurized and intimidated witnesses to turn hostile for torpedoing these riot cases, was taken by the state government. Do not you find anything strange in the phenomenon of witnesses not supporting prosecution cases after giving truthful deposition initially in the riot cases investigated by Gujarat police, while such a trend is almost non-existent in major carnage cases investigated by the Apex Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT)? In SIT investigated cases, nearly 116 persons including a former state minister was convicted with life imprisonment for their culpability in anti-minority violence.
Reportedly, the witnesses had succumbed to the intimidation of police and did not support the prosecution case as the police had ……….intimidated them to support the accused, as a quid-pro-quo for their rehabilitation and resettlement in pre-riot areas and vocations. Recently, there is an instance of the State Home Minister (2011) convening a meeting of accused of fake encounter case with the State Advocate General, the Principal Secretary to the CM etc. for conspiring as to how accused in encounter cases can be saved from CBI action. Sir, can you prove your keenness for justice delivery and welfare to riot victims by fixing criminal or departmental liability and accountability of officers, in this matter, who had allegedly committed offences under sections 186 and 188 IPC and violated their charter of duties envisaged in Chapter 4 & 5 of GPM vol-III and other instructions regarding efficacy and professionalism of police officers. Will you venture to do this against officers, who had committed intentional professional lapses for helping the rioters from the majority community in their crimes, to prove your sympathy for riot victims?
Fourthly, initiate departmental action against DGP and senior officers in Home department, who deliberately did not act upon specific intelligence assessment reports by the State Intelligence Branch (SIB) about extensive subversion of CJS by functionaries at cutting edge level in police and specific suggestions towards curative action (reports dated 24-01-2002, 15-06-2002, 20-08-2002 and 28-02-2002 – Addl. Chief Secretary admitted that all these reports were shown to you – audio tape available). Your inaction affected the justice delivery to riot victims and had forced them to approach higher courts for correcting ills of CJS. The higher judiciary issued many interventionist orders for disciplining the Gujarat government. They are i) Transfer of 2 riot cases for trial to Maharashtra state, ii) Entrusting investigation of Bilkis Bano mass rape case to CBI, iii) Reinvestigation of 2000 odd riot cases improperly closed by Gujarat police, iv) Appointment by SIT to probe into 9 major carnage cases and complaint by Mrs. Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP killed by rioters and so on. Are you not keen in disciplining and penalizing officials who brought shame and insult to Gujarat government, due to comments of Judiciary that the state officials acted like Neros during riots?
Fifthly take action against officials in police and home department who did not prosecute publishers and distributors of communally inciting materials, despite specific proposals by jurisdictional police officers and ADGP (Intelligence) in 2002. This inaction is in violation of rule 59(9) of GPM vol-III, Press Council Act, Prevention of Objectionable matters act etc.
Sixthly, please order departmental action against officers responsible for serious dereliction of duties violating provisions of CRPC, India Police Act 1861 and rule 271 and 272 of GPM vol-III , who were criticized by courts in their judgments on riot cases. There were severe strictures against bias of police officers towards the victims of riots from minority community in the judgment of the Special Court on Naroda Patia, Ahmedabad city massacre (96 people killed during curfew hours) and Dipla Darwaza (Mehsana district) mass murder cases.
Seventhly, please initiate departmental action against officials in police and executive magistracy, who permitted high voltage anti-minority violence during communal disturbances in 2002, in 9 districts and 2 Commissionerates, by not following scrupulously the SOP. Why mandatory supervisory duties on maintenance of law and order, investigation and prosecution of offenders were ignored by these hierarchically senior supervisory police officers?
Eighthly, take action against officers responsible for handing over dead bodies of 54 Hindus killed in Godhra train fire incident on 27 th February 2002 to the state VHP leaders ,…………… in violation of rule 223 of GPM vol-III and other governmental regulations
Ninthly, please initiate action against officers who did not submit affidavits on the second Terms of Reference to the JNC dated 20 th July 2004 and this default was in violation of notification by JNC dated 05-08-2004 .
Tenthly, please initiate action against officials in revenue, home and police departments for making false and misleading presentation to the full bench of the CEC on 09-08-2002 . The CEC had assailed this serious misconduct by state government officials in its order dated 16-08-2002 . The false data by the officials was relating to law and order situation, status of misplaced persons, refugee camps, relief and rehabilitation and so on.
Eleventh line of action by you would be to initiate action against all officials from DGP to the Chief Secretary, who avoided maintenance of minutes of meetings convened by DGP to the Chief Minister during the 2002 riots. How could follow up action on decisions taken in the meetings be monitored without preparing minutes?
The twelfth delinquent and culpable act is by DGP, who gave illegal written orders to ADGP intelligence for not reporting details of an anti-minority sensitive speech affecting the communal harmony by you in Sep 2002 in Mehsana district to the National Constitutional Body – the National Commission of Minorities. This action of DGP was in violation of rule 461 of GPM vol-III on charter of duties of SIB. Please initiate action against the delinquent officers.
The thirteenth guilty act is by two home department officials and Government pleader to the JNC relating to their intimidation and tutoring of a senior police officer, who was summoned by the JNC for cross examination, for speaking in favor of the Government and suppress information regarding governments……. incriminating role in the planning and execution of anti-minority violence in 2002. This misconduct would go against the letter and spirit of the Terms of Reference to JNC, Government instructions to all officials to cooperate with the JNC and the Notification by JNC dated 05-08-2004 . Please take action against the officers who had deviated from the framework of government instructions.
Your government do vigorously pursue disciplinary proceedings, prosecution and other acts of persecution against 3 whistle blower IPS officers – R. B. Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma and Sanjeev Bhat. But if your are committed to your emotional outburst in the blog about riots and are serious to give up your revengefulness against those who performed their duties for normalization of the situation, please take action to end all on-going process of victimization against these 3 officers and establish that you are neither vindictive and sadistic, nor you do nurture personal grudge against those who are critical of your actions.
The massacre of 2000 citizens in the genocidal violence in 2002 in Gujarat was like the disrobing of Maharani Draupadi, depicted in the great Indian epic of The Mahabharata. The proverbial Rule of Law in Gujarat was Draupadi and the architects of riots are in the position of i) Planners (senior Sangh Parivar leaders and political bureaucracy in the state government), ii) Organisers (middle level Hindu militants), iii) Ground level mobilisers of foot soldiers, resources and weapons (BJP leaders, MLA etc), iv) Facilitators and enablers (police and officers in executive magistracy in areas of high voltage anti-minority crimes and v) Perpetrators of ghastly crimes (about 116 persons from this category was convicted with life imprisonment). These deviants were fully aware of their duties. You must also be quite conscious of Raj Dharma. But the architects of 2002 violence did not move on the road map of goodness and harmony and they acted like Duryodhana and his cohorts. Duryodhana admitted, while he was sinking in the battlefield, to Lord Krishna that he knew what was righteousness but had never followed it. On the other hand he had knowingly taken the path of unrighteousness. II Gnanami dharmam na cha me pravarti | Gnanami adharmam na cha me nivarti ||. Those in the political and administrative bureaucracy, who remained merely inactive without helping the rioters were like Bheeshmacharya and other Maharathis in Kaurava court, who for selfish careerist reasons did not dare to stop molestation of Draupadi. Bheeshma had admitted that he was obliged to Kauravas for wealth (means position and power). The sloka in Bheeshmavadhaparva of the Mahabharata goes thus || Arthasya purushodasaha | Dasastvarthena kasyachit | Iti satyam maharaja | Baddhostharthena kauravey || (everybody is slave to urge for wealth (position and power) but wealth is never indebted to anybody. This is truth, Oh, Maharaja. I am obliged to Kauravas for wealth). You have written in the blog that you are inspired by the scriptures. This had prompted me to pen the above anecdotes from the epic and request you to do introspection as to how you and your partners in riots are analogous to the characters in the Mahabharata.
Your political rivals have characterized your expression of remorse about riots as an exercise of hypocrisy. My humble submission and appeal to you is for appreciating and accepting my above noted suggestions in this representation and take follow up action for their actualization. For implementing my proposals, you do not require any clearance form judiciary or the Union government. Moreover, such an empathetic gesture would be in tune with the fundamentals of Raj Dharma, which India 's scholar statesman – Atal Behari Vajpayee wanted you to adhere to. Let your words pass and your deeds prove.
The etymological import of the Sanskrit word “Raja” (ruler) is explained in Brahmandpuranam thus : The person who provides contentment to citizens (praja) is Raja – Prajanam ranjanath raja. Literary giant, Mahakavi Kalidasa wrote “The normal nature of a ruler is to make subjects happy – Raja prakurte ranjanath. Kamandakiya Nitisara (compilation of wisdom for rulers) in the chapter 5 – duties of king – slokas 82-83 caution the administrators to protect the citizens from “the favorites” (chamchas and sycophants) – || Ayuktakemyaschoremyah Paremyo Rajavallabhat | Pruthaviptilobhachcha prajanam pinjadha bhayam | Panchprakarampiyet dapohyam nrupatebhryam || (the subjects require protection against wicked officers of the king, thieves, enemies of the king, royal favorites (such as the queens, princess etc.), and more than all, against the greed of king himself. The king should secure the people against these fears). Will you continue to favor your favorites or implement my proposals? Since you get inspirational enlightenment from Indian scriptures as a Hindu Nationalist (as claimed by you in your interview with Reuters in July 2013), I am quite confident that you will accept my suggestions for giving amelioration to the riot victim survivors and unwarrantedly harassed officers.
In case you reject my suggestions and do not do anything to help the riot victims, any well-informed citizen in India will adjudge your expression of “pain” about riots as a mere soulless self-marketing drama, full of sound and fury without any substance and significance, merely for hoodwinking gullible secular sections of voters. By not apologizing and initiating any action to assuage suffering of riot victims and persecuted officials you can, perhaps, further consolidate your support base among the Sangh Parivar brain washed Hindu radicals. But sensible secular Indians will remain outside the ambit of your support base and they would damage the prospects of your securing the chair of the Prime Minister of India after the next Lok Sabha elections.
The immortal and basic holy treatise of Hinduism – The Bhagvad Gita, exhorted everybody thus “Let the shastras (laws) be your authority in deciding what you should do and what you should desist from doing” – chapter 16, sloka 24 - || Tatasmacchastram pramanam te karyakaryavyavasthitau | Jntva sastravidhanoktam karma kartumiharhasi ||. Therefore, there could not be any confusion or ambiguity in the further line of action to be decided by you to help the enfeebled, voiceless and orphaned riot victims and distressed government servants.
Kindly favor me with a reply on the follow up action being taken by you on the suggestions in this representation.
With respectful regards
R. B. Sreekumar
The writer is a a former DGP of Gujarat. He can be reached at
Shri. Narendra Modi ji,
Hon' Chief Minister of Gujarat State
Gujarat - 382010
Dr. Shrimati Kamalaji (for Kind Information)
Her Excellency The Governor of Gujarat State
Raj Bhawan, Gandhinagar,
Gujarat - 382020
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