Published: May 16, 2011 - 13:53

Their crime: they followed the rule of law and stopped the killings
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi 

Narendra Modi, it seems, has a penchant for punishing anyone who opposes or disagrees with his totalitarian ways. This is organised witch-hunt against his own top-ranking officers, violating every ethical norm of good governance or professional conduct. Besides Sanjiv Bhatt, as many as eight top police officers have faced vicious victimisation for following the rule of law and not toeing the Modi line.

RB Sreekumar, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP-Intelligence), during the Gujarat carnage, 2002, who recently commended Bhatt for filing an affidavit indicting Modi, was the first IPS officer to raise serious questions on Modi's role in the pogrom against Muslims. Later, a brave Sreekumar alleged that he was openly victimised by the Modi regime; his promotion was blocked and he was isolated. It was only after he fought his case in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) that he was promoted to the rank of DGP - but only after he had already retired. His stand was finally vindicated. 

Sreekumar has also questioned the credibility of the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). He said the SIT is behaving like the 'B Team' of the Gujarat police after it refused to take into account his meticulous documentation of the carnage. Sreekumar has also detailed how the 'bad cops' were rewarded with plum postings for aligning with the state government. In July 2002, when he was the ADGP (Intelligence), he is said to have received information that the weapons allegedly hauled up from Daryapur locality in Ahmedabad by DIG (Crime Branch) DG Vanzara (a Modi favourite, later jailed for the fake encounter of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausarbi), actually came from a VHP factory in Sabarkantha. 

Another top cop, Rahul Sharma, who was instrumental in getting Gujarat minister Mayaben Kodnani and VHP leader Jaideep Patel booked for their direct complicity in the 2002 killings, also had to face the wrath of the chief minister. He was 'gifted' with a punishment posting as Deputy Inspector General (DIG-Arms Unit) at Rajkot. It was Sharma who painstakingly collected the call details of conversations between top bureaucrats, the chief minister's office and other important officers during the carnage, between February 27 and March 3, 2002, and burned them into a CD while he was serving as DCP (Control) in Ahmedabad. 

Ironically, he was transferred after he saved about 200 children and others in a madarsa in Bhavnagar which was about to be torched by a bloodthirsty mob; as a last resort, he had ordered the police to open fire to stop them. Five rioters were killed. Sources report that Modi and his ministers did not like his guts, nor his steadfast sense of high ethics, unprejudiced law enforcement and professional conduct.

The call details provided to the Nanavati Commission and SIT by Sharma - much to the anger of the Modi regime - are one of the most important pieces of evidence which show how the BJP-led administrative apparatus was hand-in-glove with the organised gangs of VHP-Bajrang Dal, during the 2002 mayhem. Indeed, instead of rewarding him for saving the lives of innocents, a vindictive Modi government is reportedly keen on booking him for the "criminal" act of handing over the mobile records.       

Superintendent of Police (SP) in Kutch in 2002, Vivek Shrivastava, too was transferred to an unimportant designation with the state home guards after he arrested a local home guards commandant, also an alleged active member of the VHP, for rioting. He also did not allow riots in Kutch, which remained largely peaceful. This too went against the wishes of the state government. Shrivastava, luckily, managed to get out of Gujarat and is now posted as Deputy Director, Intelligence Bureau, in Delhi.  

However, Himanshu Bhatt, the then SP of Banaskantha, was not so lucky. He was transferred to the intelligence branch, considered a punishment posting for young officers, after he reportedly suspended a local sub-inspector caught brandishing a sword with the rioters. Bhatt took a break and went to Harvard for an academic course. On his return, he was not given any posting. Hence, he apparently decided to move out of the country. Predictably, later the sub-inspector was reinstated in the same police station.  

Rajnish Rai, following the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, was instrumental in arresting the 'Modi loyalist coterie' of high-profile cops (also, alleged extortionists/murderers) - DG Vanzara, Dinesh MN and Rajkumar Pandian. They were reportedly working at the behest of former home minister and close Modi associate Amit Shah. 

Rai had to face frequent transfers to insignificant posts in Gujarat. Uncannily, in a bizarre case of political vengeance, he was implicated for 'copying' in LLB exams. Later, he got a clean chit from the Gujarat High Court in the 'cheating case'. On a study leave, he is now pursuing a course at IIM, Ahmedabad.

Satish Chandra Verma, now a member of the SIT probing the (fake?) Ishrat Jahan encounter, was transferred as principal of the Junagadh Police Training Institute after he arrested BJP MLA Shankar Chaudhary for rioting and allegedly killing two Muslims. He never got an executive or field posting after that. Considered an honest cop, Verma recently filed an affidavit stating that two other senior members of the SIT are trying to hush up the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The four murdered youngsters were accused by Gujarat police of plotting to assassinate Modi. Verma has now clearly implied that it was a 'fake encounter'.

The then Bharuch SP, MD Antani, who refused to carry out official orders and instead stopped rioters, was shifted out to Narmada district. He is now serving as a passport officer in Ahmedabad.  

Interestingly, the then DGP, Gujarat, K Chakravarthi, had written to the additional chief secretary in charge of the home department a good four weeks after the riots started, saying that transfers of outstanding police officers who had done a commendable job in restraining rioters would demoralise the police force. Nothing happened. Chakravarthi, according to sources, did not have the courage to take on Modi, stop the killings, restore the rule of law, or tell the truth during and after the carnage. So much so, he is now claiming that Sanjiv Bhatt did not attend the meeting, while others are even pretending compulsive amnesia (Modi's Bloody Ghosts).

Kuldeep Sharma, another senior IPS officer, who was slated to be the top cop in Gujarat, was instead shown the door and transferred to the innocuous Sheep and Wool Department after he tried to arrest a minister for his involvement in a criminal conspiracy. On August 1, 2005, Sharma, then Additional DGP, CID (Crime and Railways), had written to the then chief secretary of Gujarat, Sudhir Mankad, of Amit Shah's involvement in bailing out scamster Ketan Parekh. He had asked Mankad to duly inform Modi, the chief minister. 

Sharma unearthed phone records of Shah, Girish Dani, a broker, and Parekh, and established that Shah took a bribe of Rs 2.5 crore from Parekh in the Rs 1,000 crore plus scam. Shah, who was then chairman of Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank, had taken the bribe to bail out the main accused, Parekh. Since then, despite Sharma's honest track record, his promotions were blocked, and he was hounded by Shah and Modi. Recently, he was finally deputed to a position in Delhi, despite the Gujarat government's stiff opposition. 

Recently, his brother, Pradeep Sharma, an IAS officer, who too has been allegedly victimised, wrote a letter to the SIT saying that he received a call from Modi during the riots directing him to ask Kuldeep not to take any action against the rioters. Pradeep Sharma is languishing in jail, apparently on cooked-up charges of involvement in a land scam.

Their crime: they followed the rule of law and stopped the killings
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi

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