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Court ‘no' to plea against Gujarat police officers

Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD: The special fast track court trying the Gulberg Society massacre case of 2002 Gujarat riots on Tuesday refused to entertain “at this stage” an application of some victims and witnesses to arraign as accused in the case the then four top police officers of Ahmedabad.

Judge B.J. Dhandha observed that the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team was to file a report on some of the police officers named by the applicants. Since the Supreme Court was seized of the matter, the application could not be entertained at this stage. The court gave the option to the applicants to raise the issue, if necessary, during the final stages of hearing.

Some of the victims and witnesses urged arraignment of the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner, P.C. Pande; the then Joint Police Commissioner, M.K. Tandon; the then Deputy Police Commissioner, P.B. Gondia; and the then Assistant Commissioner, S.S. Chudasma, who was also the first investigating officer of the massacre.

The SIT, however, opposed the application and told the court that there was no evidence of dereliction of duty by Mr. Pande, Mr. Tandon and Mr. Gondia nor the charge of destruction of evidence could be established against Mr. Chudasma as claimed by the applicants. The SIT viewed the application as an attempt to delay the process of justice in the case.

The applicants sought to make the police officers as accused for their negligence to control the massacre, destruction of evidence and failure to perform their duty. It was alleged that Mr. Pande as the city police chief had failed to control the riots. “He remained sitting in his office on February 28, 2002 when Gulberg Society was burning and large-scale killings were taking place. We have proof from the telephone call CD that Mr. Pande did not visit the affected areas when the city was in the grip of the rioters,” advocate for the applicant victims-witnesses S.M. Vora told the court.

Mr. Tandon and Mr. Gondia were allegedly found moving in other areas where there were no riots, instead of rushing help to Gulberg Society which was under attack, he said.

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