These people were killed by the Gujarat police to profile Modi as a great Hindu leader
Face to face: Mukul Sinha
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi
Mukul Sinha is an eminent lawyer and civil liberties advocate based in Ahmedabad. He has doggedly pursued the search for justice since the State-sponsored Gujarat genocide of 2002, case after case, in multiple testimonies to the commissions, investigations, inquiries and documentations, inside and outside the courts, and in the public and political arena. Despite all odds, and despite threats from powerful quarters and an atmosphere of sectarian terror prevailing in Gujarat since 2002, he has rigorously, meticulously and with extraordinary courage, evidence and resilience, pursued the process of justice, including the facts behind the many fake encounters. Here, he describes in detail the conspiracy behind the cold-blooded killings.
What do you think were the political motives behind these fake encounter killings in Gujarat?
Starting with the Sadiq Jamal encounter, there have been many encounters which have taken place almost each year till 2007. So, this was sort of an annual exercise by the Gujarat government. All of them were Muslims, except for Tulsi Prajapati. Although he was also a close associate of Sohrabuddin Sheikh. There is little variation in terms of the persons who are involved. The motive seems to be common to all of them. And this motive is reflected in the FIRs filed by the police in all these cases. They have always claimed that all these people who were killed in encounters belonged to some terror outfit across the border and had come to kill Narendra Modi — for he is a great Hindu leader. However, unknowingly, they have exposed their motives in these FIRs itself by saying that all these people had come to kill Modi.
Indeed, the reality is totally opposite to what they have been claiming all along. That is, these people were killed by the Gujarat police to profile Modi as a great Hindu leader. For this, they needed Muslims. So, they picked them up from all over the country, got them to Gujarat and then shot them dead by claiming they were terrorists. He won the 2007 elections solely on these killings.
Remember the ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ statement that Sonia Gandhi made in a rally prior to the elections. She left it there. The Congress backed off. Modi picked it up from there. He then attacked the Congress for being soft on Islamic terrorism and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. He abused the Congress all through his campaign. Thereby, this whole conspiracy of terrorism and alleged terrorists coming to Gujarat to kill Modi has paid rich dividends electorally.
Why would the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is a central agency, collude with a state government?
One should recall that it was the BJP-led NDA government which was ruling in Delhi at that time. Gujarat too had a BJP-led government led by Modi. The IB is essentially an organization which works right under the nose of the Union home ministry. Now, to profile someone as a terrorist, you need a lot of information which points to that person’s role in terrorism. How do they do it? At that time, LK Advani was the Union home minister in Delhi. They got the IB to manufacture these fake inputs which were fed to the police. We have seen it in at least two cases of encounters — Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal.
I wouldn’t say that the whole IB apparatus was complicit. Rather, it was the then Joint Director, Rajendra Kumar, specifically, who played an important role in the whole conspiracy. In the Sadiq Jamal case, the Maharashtra state IB had given a clean chit to Sadiq that he is not a terrorist. They did it after interrogating him for a good two weeks. This report was then sent to the IB headquarters. Yet, they dubbed him a terrorist. The clean chit report by the IB was twisted. And further inputs were added by the Gujarat IB.
Does that point to the role of IB officials in Delhi?
Yes, officers in Delhi must have played an important role. They must have consulted LK Advani. I have learnt that Rajendra Kumar intervened. He got him picked up by the Gujarat police. Tarun Barot, the IPS officer, picked him up from the Crime Investigation Unit (CIU), Andheri, Mumbai, and brought him to Ahmedabad. They took the plea that they wanted to interrogate him in some case. All this was done in an illegal manner. They did not produce him in a court. They took him to the Crime Branch at Shahibagh, Bungalow Number 15, Ahmedabad. For eight days, he was kept there. On the morning of the ninth day, they shot him dead and showcased it as an encounter.
Do you think the Maharashtra IB was also involved?
I personally think it was the CIU which played an adverse role because the IB doesn’t have police stations. He was in the custody of the CIU. Encounter specialist Daya Nayak was then the CIU boss. He made a deal with the political set-up in Gujarat. I have learnt that he made a lot of money in the case. It was not a free transfer.
There are reports that Pranesh Pillai alias Javed, whom you are representing in the court, was an IB informer. Do you have details?
No, I don’t know about it. Till now the Gujarat police have been claiming that he was a terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). I have not come across any instance which shows him to be an IB informer.
Is the quality of evidence good enough to implicate the top political brass in the Gujarat government?
We will have to wait till the chargesheet is filed in the Ishrat Jahan case. Once we see what charges have been framed, only then we can comment. But, there is enough evidence in the Sadiq Jamal encounter case.
There are allegations that the Gujarat police officer, Satish Verma, is being overzealous in pursuing IB officials and their role in the conspiracy. Do you agree to this claim?
If there is one official this country should be proud of — it is Satish Verma. He has played a very crucial role in this investigation, defying all odds. And it is not just the BJP which has been opposing his presence, there are sections in the Congress also who do not want a fair probe.
Did the CBI oppose the court’s decision to take him off the investigations?
They did so twice earlier. But this time they did not. I personally feel this won’t have a big impact. We will anyway move the Supreme Court once the chargesheet is filed asking for his reinstatement.