SIT re­port on Gu­jarat ri­ots a bla­tant lie, re­it­er­ates ex-army of­fi­cer

Gulf Times - - INDIA -

Re­tired Lt Gen­eral Zameer Ud­din Shah re­it­er­ated yes­ter­day that au­thor­i­ties de­layed mak­ing trans­port ar­range­ments to the army by over a day de­spite a request made to then chief min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi dur­ing the 2002 Gu­jarat ri­ots.

Shah was speak­ing at the launch of his book The Sarkari Mus­salman, un­veiled by for­mer vice pres­i­dent Hamid An­sari.

The for­mer of­fi­cer said he has writ­ten the ‘gospel truth’, adding that the se­quence of events has been recorded in the “war di­aries” of the army.

“When the time comes, th­ese di­aries will be pro­vided. What I have re­ported is the gospel truth,” he said.

The book has courted much con­tro­versy over its por­tions re­lat­ing to the ri­ots. Shah, who led the army in quelling the ri­ots, has said in his mem­oir that af­ter about 3,000 troops landed at the Ahmedabad air­field by 7am on March 1, they had to wait for over a day to re­ceive trans­port and other lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port from the state gov­ern­ment in order to fan out to cities and towns which were en­gulfed in vi­o­lence.

This de­lay, ac­cord­ing to him, hap­pened de­spite a request by the Lt Gen­eral to Modi at 2am on March 1 in Ahmedabad, in the pres­ence of then de­fence min­is­ter Ge­orge Fer­nan­des.

A Supreme Court-ap­pointed Spe­cial In­ves­tiga­tive Team (SIT) re­port, that had cleared Modi’s name, had con­cluded that there was no de­lay “in req­ui­si­tion and de­ploy­ment of the army”, based on tes­ti­mony of Ashok Narayan, ad­di­tional chief sec­re­tary (Home).

“I was not aware of the SIT re­port un­til a few days ago when this was pointed out to me. Let me say again, it is a bla­tant lie. I have told the truth. I don’t think if there’s a bet­ter qual­i­fied per­son than me to talk about it,” he said.

Gen­eral S Pad­man­ab­han, the then chief of Army Staff, speak­ing to IANS ear­lier, had backed the as­ser­tions of Shah. Shah says he “could not be surer” about the events lead­ing to the de­ploy­ment of army in Gu­jarat as he had men­tioned every de­tail in the Af­ter Ac­tion Re­port on Op­er­a­tion Aman.

The SIT never called the Lt Gen­eral for ques­tion­ing. It looks ap­par­ent from its re­port that the SIT did not look at Shah’s Af­ter Ac­tion Re­port sub­mit­ted to Gen Pad­man­ab­han, which was sub­se­quently for­warded to the cen­tral gov­ern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to Shah, the army put an end to the may­hem dur­ing the ri­ots within 48 hours (March 4) by “res­o­lute, firm and fair ac­tion”, but he holds the “bias” and “politi­ci­sa­tion” of the po­lice re­spon­si­ble for the un­con­trolled vi­o­lence.

Although Shah does not make any po­lit­i­cal state­ments and calls the de­lay in the de­ploy­ment of the army “an ad­min­is­tra­tive fail­ure”, An­sari, dur­ing his brief ad­dress at the book launch, asked “where does the re­spon­si­bil­ity lie if the civil ad­min­is­tra­tion failed to re­spond?”

An­sari praised the book and re­ferred to the por­tions that ap­pealed to him per­son­ally. The evening also wit­nessed a brief read­ing about the life of wives of men in ser­vice.

The SIT was headed by for­mer CBI direc­tor R K Ragha­van (now am­bas­sador to Cyprus). When con­tacted by IANS on phone, Ragha­van said he was “not pre­pared to talk”.

Ques­tions sent to him and his at­tache at the In­dian High Com­mis­sion in Ni­cosia seek­ing his views on whether the army or it’s Af­ter Ac­tion Re­port was con­sid­ered be­fore reach­ing the con­clu­sion that there was “no de­lay in req­ui­si­tion and de­ploy­ment of the army” have not been an­swered.

A panel com­pris­ing for­mer In­dian en­voy to Saudi Ara­bia Talmiz Ahmad; ac­tor Naseerud­din Shah; Jamia Hansard Vice Chan­cel­lor Syed Eht­e­sham Has­nain; se­nior jour­nal­ists Seema Mustafa, Satish Ja­cob and Vinod Dua later par­tic­i­pated in a panel dis­cus­sion on the book.

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