For 10 years, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has chosen to answer with silence—and election victories—the many questions about his role or lack of it in the Gujarat carnage of 2002. He has walked out of TV interviews, glared at interviewers, sidestepped every court stricture. About the only time he sat down with an interrogator was when he faced a member of the SIT in March 2010; his responses are now in the public domain. But Modi still hasn’t answered many key questions. He can start here.
- Mr Modi, in an interview on March 1, 2002, to Zee TV you said about the post-Godhra riots, “A chain of action and reaction is going on. We want that neither should there be action, nor reaction.” Don’t such statements echo the ‘earth-shaking’ rationalisations offered by Rajiv Gandhi after the 1984 riots?
- A few days later, you told Outlook (Mar 18, ’02), “You have to remember that communalism runs high in Gujarat—even a small provocation can lead to violence and Godhra was a very big incident.” Did you not stoke that spark when it was decided that the bodies of Godhra victims would be taken to Ahmedabad?
- You have denied the allegation that you instructed bureaucrats and senior police officers at a high-level meeting (Feb 27, ’02) that “in communal riots, police takes action against Hindus and Muslims on one-to-one basis. This will not do now; allow Hindus to give vent to their anger”—a statement attributed to you on record by then deputy commissioner, intelligence, Sanjiv Bhatt and slain minister Haren Pandya. Why do you think the charge persists?
- Why did you single out Bhatt and say he wasn’t present at the Feb 27 meeting when you were only asked about those present?
- Is it true that P.K. Mishra, your principal secretary, asked R.B. Sreekumar, then Addl DG (Intel), to confirm whether Haren Pandya was the minister who had deposed about the Feb 27 meeting to an independent citizen’s tribunal. Did he then, as the allegation goes, ask that Pandya’s mobile number, 9824030629, be tapped?
- Given the suspicious circumstances of Haren Pandya’s assassination (Mar 26, ’03), and given that many point the needle of suspicion at your administration, what action has been taken to clear your name and find out who his real murderers are?
- You told the SIT that you came to know from newspaper reports that the BJP had ‘joined’ the call for a Gujarat bandh on Feb 28, ’02, and a Bharat bandh on Mar 1, ’02. For someone so clued into the party machinery, isn’t that a strange lapse?
- You claimed to the SIT that you had no personal knowledge of the presence of BJP ministers Ashok Bhatt and I.K. Jadeja in the police State Control Room and Ahmedabad City Control Room respectively (Feb 28, ‘02). Doesn’t this show some incompetence on your part?
- You denied to the SIT that you knew ex-MP Ehsan Jafri—who died in the Gulberg Society massacre—or that he contacted you by phone and requested for help even as the rioters were at his door. Eyewitnesses, though, claim that he had spoken to you. Why do critics persist in arguing that this was a case of personal revenge and vendetta?
- Did your government slap the Official Secrets Act against whistleblower cop Rahul Sharma because he passed on explosive phone data records to the Nanavati Commission which showed that rioters were in touch with policemen and politicians?
- The vindictiveness seems to have a pattern, considering the SC’s recent strictures against your government for initiating criminal proceedings against social activist Teesta Setalvad (allegedly for her role in the illegal exhumation of bodies of 2002 riot victims)?
- Isn’t this also why a 21-year-old custodial death case allegedly involving Sanjiv Bhatt was resurrected and suspension orders issued against him?
- It is alleged that compliant police officers during the 2002 riots were promoted and those who steadfastly did their duty were sidelined or persecuted. Many such cases have been widely documented and also brought to your attention. What action have you taken in this regard?
- You denied to the SIT that your ministers were involved in leading any of the violent mobs, but what action did you take when the alleged involvement of people like Bharat Barot, Mayaben Kodnani, Nitinbhai Patel and Narayan Lallu Patel was officially brought to your attention?
- What stopped you from taking action on the basis of the media footage available on the riots? That said, why didn’t the Gujarat police document the carnage?
- What action, if any, did you take after Tehelka’s Operation Kalank in which the likes of Haresh Bhatt, Babu Bajrangi and Rajendra Vyas, while narrating their ‘exploits’, implicated you and your administration?
- Why was no action taken or inquiry held against officers of the executive magistracy, particularly the DMs who failed to initiate prompt action against the rioters, especially from Feb 27-Mar 4, ’02?
- You denied recommending pro-BJP/VHP advocates for appointment as public prosecutors. Then why was no action taken or inquiry conducted against the DMs who made such biased selections?
- You often boast that you do not discriminate on grounds of religion. On Sept 9, ’02, as part of your gaurav yatra, you made a speech in which you equated the Muslim relief camps with child-producing centres and used crudities like “Hum paanch, hamaare pachees”. Are you proud of such remarks?
- It took the Gujarat HC to finally issue a contempt notice against your government for failing to compensate those whose shops were burnt down in the riots? Where was your ‘sadbhavana’ during the last 10 years?
- The Gujarat HC also had to order the various authorities under your administration to pay for the restoration of the hundreds of religious structures destroyed. Why did the situation come to this?
- What is your take on the high court blaming the 2002 riots on the “negligence of the state”?
- How is it that instead of censuring newspapers like Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar—which spread false, dangerous and communal rumours—you actually wrote them letters of appreciation while seeking to ban those who exposed the complicity of your administration in the violence?
- While you claim to condemn the killings in 2002, your critics argue the reason you refuse to show any repentance for the same is your deep-seated anti-Muslim prejudice. Do you agree?
- If you really have nothing to hide, why do you refuse to engage with those who have raised such allegations about you?
Read Narendra Modi’s answers to SIT questions