Opinion

Gujarat model of prize and punishment 

SC granted bail to Babu Bajrangi on health grounds, who was convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case, for killing 97 Muslims. However apart from him other accused like Maya Kodnani are also free

Photo Courtesy: Social Media

Nachiketa Desai

With the Supreme Court granting bail on health ground to Babu Bajrangi convicted in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case, most accused of mass murders in the 2002 Gujarat post-Godhra carnage, including former state minister Maya Kodnani are out of jail.

Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal activist, was sentenced to 21 years in jail for the killing of 97 Muslims in Ahmedabad’s Naroda Patiya area on February 28, 2002. The Supreme Court had earlier sought a response from the Gujarat Police on Bajrangi’s bail plea after he had told the court he was in “unsound physical condition” and had undergone a bypass surgery.

Earlier last year, the Gujarat High Court had acquitted Maya Kodnani, who too had been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail by the trial court in the Naroda Patiya massacre case. A special SIT court, which is hearing another mass murder case of Naroda Gam, separate from the Naroda Patiya case, has allowed Maya Kodnani to travel out of Gujarat for six months. Eleven persons belonging to the Muslim community were killed in the Naroda Gam area on February 28, 2002.

Out on bail, Kodnani has become politically active having been seen last sharing the podium with Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani on December 22, last year.

While all key accused in the 2002 Gujarat massacre of members of the minority community have either been acquitted by court or are out on bail, all the Gujarat police officers arrested for their involvement in the killing of teenaged girl Ishrat Jahan, her friend Pranesh Pillai and two others, and gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh too are not only out of jail but some of them even reinstated and promoted in the service.

The most prominent among the tainted Gujarat-cadre IPS officers who were promoted after their release from jail included PP Pandey, promoted as the state’s director general of police, G L Singhal promoted to the rank of inspector general of police from DIG, Vipul Agrawala as the joint commissioner of police and Abhay Chudasama as the managing director of Gujarat Police Housing Corporation.

Another IPS officer Rajnish Rai, who had dared to arrest BJP leader Amit Shah and DIG D G Vanjara for their role in fake encounters was transferred first to the Northeast and then to Chittoor to head the para military units there

In sharp contrast, All the Gujarat cadre IPS officers who had exposed the involvement of BJP leaders in post-Godhra massacre and the subsequent killings of Muslims in fake encounters have been victimized.

The most glaring example is that of Sanjiv Bhatt who is in jail since September 5 last in a 23-year-old case revived by the state government. Ironically, the state government had defended him in the same very case. Bhatt, who was serving in the intelligence bureau of the state police, had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying the then chief minister Narendra Modi had instructed the police and top officers of the state administration to turn a blind eye if the Hindus took out their anger against Muslims for burning the coach of the Sabarmati express train on February 27, 2002 at an official meeting convened by him.

The other officer who submitted a damning CD of call records to the commission of inquiry set up into the post-Godhra violence was Rahul Sharma who was harassed to such an extent that he resigned from the service.

Another IPS officer Rajnish Rai, who had dared to arrest BJP leader Amit Shah and DIG D G Vanjara for their role in fake encounters was transferred first to the Northeast and then to Chittoor to head the para military units there. He has resigned but the government, while refusing to accept the resignation, has charged him with remaining absent without permission.

Then comes Satish Verma, who as a member of the Special Investigation Team, found evidence of fake encounter killing of Ishrat Jahan and her friend. Verma was transferred to Guwahati, Nagaland and then to Coimbatore.

“Toe the BJP line or face music” is how the BJP government has been treating the police officers since 2002.

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