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SIT files charge sheets against Kodnani, Patel in massacre cases

Special Correspondent

They have been charged with hatching criminal conspiracy and instigating mobs

AHMEDABAD: The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team has filed charge sheets against the former Gujarat Minister Maya Kodnani, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Jaideep Patel, the then Naroda second police inspector V.S. Gohil, and others in the cases of Naroda massacre during the 2002 riots.

Ms. Kodnani and Mr. Patel have been in judicial custody for over a month after they surrendered before the SIT on March 27 following cancellation of their anticipatory bail by the Gujarat High Court.

They have been charged with hatching a criminal conspiracy and instigating mobs, besides unlawful assembly. This would mean all the charges made against the mob would automatically apply to them. Their bail applications are still pending before a sessions court, which has postponed a hearing twice.

Mr. Gohil has been booked for dereliction of duty and destruction of evidence, apart from the other charges. He is out on bail.

The 1,700-page charge sheet includes voluminous statements by some senior police officers and other documents. While Mr. Patel and Mr. Gohil have been chargesheeted only in connection with the Naroda Gaam case, Ms. Kodnani, who was then a member of the Assembly from Naroda, faces charges for both the Naroda Gaam and Naroda Patiya massacres.

Most of the charges against Ms. Kodnani and Mr. Patel are based on statements by eyewitnesses and investigation carried out by the SIT, but in the case of Mr. Gohil, even his senior officers have complained of dereliction of duty and attempts to destroy evidence.

“Defied order”

The then first police inspector of Naroda K.K. Maisurwala and the then Deputy Commissioner P.B. Gondia have testified that Mr. Gohil defied orders at a critical juncture and did not move with the police force to quell riots.

Both police officers told the SIT that when they received information of a crowd build-up at Naroda Gaam, they instructed Mr. Gohil to rush there and bring the situation under control. But he did not report to them about the situation.

The SIT has also charged Mr. Gohil with attempting to destroy evidence. He deliberately avoided filling up the logbook on the “police station to mobile van messages” after 1.30 p.m. on the crucial day.

The SIT is checking the authenticity of the copies of two “compact discs” listing mobile phone calls made to and by some important political leaders and senior administrative and police officials during the crucial periods before and after the riots.

The original copies of the CDs, claimed to have been deposited with the State crime branch police, are missing and the government raised objections about the authenticity of the copies before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, which too was supplied the same copies. Most of the SIT investigations and charges are based on the movements of the mobile phone numbers listed in the CDs.

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