Gujarat riot: Dalit cops attacked Muslims

Gujarat riot: Dalit cops attacked Muslims, upper caste protected them

By Special Correspondent,,

Junagadh (Gujarat): The analysis of the role of police officials involved in law and order management during 2002 Gujarat riots and afterwards, throws interesting and yet shocking facts to the fore. The cops belonging to dalit and backward communities had joined hands with their political bosses to commit heinous crimes against Muslims. On the contrary the upper caste Hindus, particularly Brahmins, resisted the unconstitutional orders of the contemporary BJP government and went out of their way to help Muslims. In fact among the police officers who exposed the “role and conduct” of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others during the riots, most belong to upper caste. Modi himself belongs to backward class of “Telis.”

Upper caste Hindu officials took a very strong stand knowing well that they were putting themselves and their families to great risk in Gujarat under Modi rule. In fact, it is these officials who collected evidences and leaked out various information to the investigative agencies that later tightened the noose around those involved in the communal riots and fake encounter of Muslims in the state under saffron rule since 1995.

The prominent among those who displayed their hostility towards Muslims and struck terror by targeting Muslims and killing them in fake encounters include IPS officials DG Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian and Dinesh MN as well as N K Amin, a Gujarat Police Service(GPS) official. Vanzara, Pandian, Dinesh and Amin were all involved in fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and others. Vanzara leading the team, in every encounter, told the media that those killed in the ‘encounter’ were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives and on a mission to kill Modi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia.

Vanzara hails from the most backward communities of the state and his education was financed by Muslims of his native village (Illol). Dinesh and Pandian are dalit from Andhra Pradesh. While Pandian is a Gujarat cadre IPS official, Dinesh is Rajasthan cadre IPS officer. Amin is also a dalit from Gujarat.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Nobel Parmar who is a dalit-convert-Christian, investigated the Godhra train burning incident and booked large number of innocent Muslims including Maulana Hussain Umarji. As a reward for his services, he was later on promoted as Superintendent of Police and also given two extensions after retirement. But the upper caste police officials who resisted unconstitutional orders against Muslims had to “pay” the price for their “disobedience.”

The first among them was R B Sreekumar, a Brahmin IPS official from Kerala. His depositions before the Nanavati Commission not only created problems for the Modi government but most of the statements were treated as evidence and became the basis for further investigation in the riot cases. Sreekumar was denied promotion and was superseded by his junior. It is was only after he fought his case in the Central Administrative Tribunal that the latter gave him promotion to the rank of Director General of Police(DGP), with all pensionary and other benefits.

Sanjeev Bhatt [Photo:]

Another officer Rahul Sharma, a Brahmin, himself fired on a mob attacking a ‘madrasa’ during 2002 riots in Bhavnagar. He also arrested 21 of the rioters belonging to BJP and did not release them despite strong political pressure. That cost him his transfer to the police control room (PCR) in Ahmedabad. At Ahmedabad, he was additionally assigned to assist the Ahmedabad crime branch investigating the Naroda Patia, Naroda Gam and Gulberg mass massacre cases.

It was during this period that Sharma collected details of the phone calls made by various accused to the ruling party politicians, including officials in Chief Minister's Office (CMO) and prepared a CD. It was on the basis of his CDs that Modi was interrogated by Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) and former minister Mayaben Kodnani was arrested and jailed.

Another upper caste official who upheld the law during the riots and tried to keep maximum check on rioters is Kuldip Sharma. He refused to help the Hindu mobs to attack Muslims during riots in his jurisdiction. He was, at that time, posted as Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ahmedabad range, holding charge of Ahmedabad rural, Anand and Kheda districts.

It was during his posting as Chief of CID (crime) that probe into fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh was conducted. Against alleged instructions from political bosses not to allow his junior Geetha Johri to submit the charge sheet on time, he asked Johri to go ahead and submit the charge sheet. Consequently, he was humiliated by making his junior as in-charge DGP and Sharma being posted as chairman-cum-managing director of Gujarat Sheep and Wool Development Corporation, a job never assigned to a police officer in the history of Gujarat.

From left: D G Vanzara, Rajkumar Pandian, Dinesh M N, N K Amin and V A Rathod [Photo:]

His annual confidential report was also downgraded to ensure that he never got promotions. But the CAT later on restored his ACR and recently, he got posting at the Centre to escape Modi government's wrath. Allegedly to teach Kuldip a lesson, the Modi government arrested his brother Pradeep Sharma, an IAS officer in land scam. Surprisingly, several other officials connected with the same scam, have been given important postings.

It was Rajnish Rai, another upper caste(Rajput from Uttar Pradesh) official who mustered courage to arrest Vanzara, Pandian and Dinesh in Sohrabuddin case, which finally led to the arrest of the then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah. Several reports suggest that Rai also wanted to arrest Shah but he was shunted out of CID (crime) when his bosses smacked of his move.

It is again a Brahmin officer-Sanjiv Bhatt-who has submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court, saying on oath that Modi in February 27, 2002, meeting at his residence, had instructed officials not to take action against Hindu mobs attacking Muslims. This has tightened the noose around Modi, generating a possibility of registration of FIR against him and 61 others on the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was brutally burnt by the rioting mob.

According to Vadodara-based social and political activist Mr. Zubair Gopalani, dalits living adjacent to Muslim localities in Ahmedabad and Vadodara cities were among the most hostile groups attacking Muslims and destroying their properties. “This is despite the fact that Muslims have always been sympathetic to dalits,” pointed out Mr. Gopalani.

Vadodara-based human rights activist Mr. J. S. Badukwala said that this was a very unusual feature, “Dalit professional class-IAS and IPS- went out of their way to make life miserable for Muslims, perhaps with a view to making fast progress,” commented Mr. Bandukwala, saying that “Dalits appear to have been communalized and saffronised by RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.”

“Now is the time for Muslims to revise their relations with dalit,” pointed out Mr. Bandukwala adding that “Brahmin officers felt gross injustice being done to Muslims and went out of their way to protect Muslims,” commented Mr. Bandukwala.


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