Proceed against Modi for Gujarat Riots: Amicus screamed a headline on the Front Page of The Hindu.
First, who is an Amicus Curiae (referred to as AC hereafter)? According to Wikipedia, "someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it... The phrase amicus curiae is legal Latin and literally means "friend of the court"".
Essentially, the court appointed an AC to go over the SIT report that was submitted in 2010. The AC in his interim report suggested further enquiry to establish guilt/no guilt in 2 allegations. The SIT did a further investigation and filed a closure report. AC gave his opinion on that report too, and submitted to the court. That is his final report.
Now let's get back to the headline and the report. The report claims that the AC recommended to proceed against Narendra Modi and cites the AC:
“In my opinion, the offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at this prima facie stage, are offences, inter alia, under Sections 153 A (1) (a) & (b) (statements promoting enmity between communities), 153B(1) (c) (imputations and assertions prejudicial to national interest), 166 (public servant disobeying a direction of the law with intent to cause injury) and 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC"
Nothing wrong in that claim, for it just copied what the AC wrote. It's just that The Hindu has been up to some mischief and very conveniently does not tell the reader how the AC arrived at that opinion. Here are a few snapshots from the report below:
"IF" the statement is to be believed. "IF".
One more sample:
"IF" Shri Sanjiv Bhatt is to be believed. "IF".
"IF" there is some material. "IF".
"IF" Shri Bhatt stands the test of cross-examination. "IF".
Now, isn't it elementary? It's like saying, "IF" you cheat, you will be booked under Section 420; "IF" you kill, you will be booked under Section 302 (I know these two sections from movies ;)!). Or when as a kid you were told, "If you don't behave, police will come and take you"!! Why do we need a front page report to tell us that "IF" a person did something wrong he can be prosecuted?
So what is this statement that "Shri" Sanjiv Bhatt attributes to Mr. Narendra Modi? What are the different allegations made by Teesta and co.?
One of the biggest allegation (which I believed was true for a very long time) was this:
I believed that to be true. I have heard in various shows and forums that the dead bodies were paraded in Ahmedabad with a view to incite clashes. I found that thought and action very sickening. It just was not comprehensible to me that someone can take advantage of dead bodies in this gruesome manner. Then I got to read blogs, news etc on the net and found conflicting versions of this allegation. The conflicting version was that these bodies were transported to Ahmedabad in the dead of the night and no parading happened.
The Special Investigation team, in its detailed report explains clearly and precisely (pages 59-64) the entire timeline of how and why the bodies were transported (including the truck numbers) to Ahmedabad. The report concludes that the bodies were NOT paraded. And the AC agreed with the extensive investigation of the SIT.
Even after this is out, some Dave guy on NDTV's recent outing says "The fact of the matter is that the bodies were paraded". Now, how on earth are we supposed to even argue with such gossip mongers?
When I first read reports of the bodies not being paraded, was also the first time I started getting skeptical about any claim made by these "riot industry" folks. I started viewing everything with suspicion but never had enough data/reports to confirm my suspicions. The SIT report cleared so many of those confusions for me (and hopefully many like me).
Let's now discuss about what allegation this Sanjiv Bhatt makes. Actually it is an allegation by Teesta and co. Sanjiv Bhatt mysteriously turns up after 9 years to say he is proof that the allegation is correct.
The summary of this allegation (by a couple of officers, teesta etc) is that the Chief Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi issued instructions to the police asking them to allow Hindus to vent anger on Muslims. This alleged instruction was given in a meeting with senior officers on the night of 27th February, 2002 (same day when the train coaches was burnt in Godhra). This claim was made by two police officers (Sanjiv Bhatt and R.B.Sreekumar) and a minister, Haren Pandya (the wording of their claims deferred though, but let's just look at the "larger/big picture").
The initial report of SIT itself debunked these claims, but the AC report recommended further investigation and the SIT ran another investigation.
In the pages 20-58 of their final report, the SIT explains in great detail how Sanjiv Bhatt lied about his attending more than one meeting at the CM's residence; how he forced his driver to tell the SIT that he infact was at CM's residence at the said times; how he has been inconsistent with his answers etc. Sample the below conclusion by the SIT:
You must read all those 38 pages, to understand how Sanjiv Bhatt was hell bent on misleading the SIT and trying to project himself as the lone torch bearer of truth.
What about Shri R.B.Sreekumar's claim then? He claimed that the DGP told him that the Chief Minister told something! That's way too vague, isn't it? After decent investigation, the SIT thus concludes:
And finally what about the minister? All the participants of the meeting have categorically denied the presence of both Sanjiv Bhatt and late Haren Pandya. ALL of them. Haren Pandya claimed this:
The SIT, after a good investigation of his whereabouts finally concludes:
Make a note - "Established beyond doubt. "
Now the AC agrees with the findings of SIT with respect to both Sreekumar and Haren Pandya.
Then what about Sanjiv Bhatt's claim and the SIT's conclusion then? The AC says this:
The AC is left with no doubt that there are people who would "gain mileage" out of this testimony? Who would want to "gain mileage" out of this? Why would anyone want to "gain mileage" out of this? Not a single media organisation asked that question.
And do you know with whom he was "strategizing"? With the leaders of opposition. With journalists. With Teesta and others.
Have you ever seen a headline that said, "Is Sanjiv Bhatt playing politics over the riots?" No, you won't.
The AC also bases his arguments on two other points. He believes a serving officer would not make such serious allegations. And AC also says there is no documentary proof that Bhatt was present/absent at the meeting. Hence, "IF" his allegations are true, a case can be filed against Mr. Narendra Modi.
Legally speaking, what the AC says makes sense. There is infact no clinching documentary proof that Bhatt was present/not present at the meeting. That's what he opined too. He very clearly states that only "IF" the allegation by Bhatt can stand the "test of cross examination", then a case can be made against Modi. Like I said earlier, that's common sense - obviously if he stands the test of cross examination a case can be made out. IF. The SIT disagrees though that a case can be made out.
SIT has shown to us how Sanjiv Bhatt has lied about attending other meetings; and also forced his driver to give statements. Leaked e-mails have shown to us how Sanjiv Bhatt was strategizing. Even the AC tells us that Bhatt was strategizing. SIT report also details cases existing against Bhatt since 1990. Amidst this background, why should one be inclined to believe Mr. Bhatt at all? I, for sure, wouldn't attach any value to his incoherent statements, specially after going through pages 20-58 of the SIT report.
In the next part, we will discuss about more allegations. Meanwhile, Part-1 is here. Part-2 is here.
PS: Sorry for all those snapshots - the uploaded pdf doc of the SIT report is a scanned report. So it's difficult to copy and paste :)