Gujarat to tighten security of 157 riot witnesses

AHMEDABAD - Following the November 5 murder of Nadeem Saiyed, a witness in a major communal riot case, in broad daylight here in the absence of his security guard, the Gujarat police have introduced stricter rules for ensuring better safety for the 157 witnesses of the riots that rocked Gujarat in 2002.

By Mahesh Trivedi

Published: Sat 26 Nov 2011, 12:31 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:25 AM

Sources said the director-general of police (DGP) has asked inspectors all police stations to maintain a ‘personal security officer register’ for duty records of the 350-odd guards provided to the witnesses of the nine important riot cases being probed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The register will have to be signed by the guards who have been told to note down the time before attending to the concerned witness and after the duty is over. Also, as happened in the case of Saiyed, if a witness does not want the guard to accompany him for a long period to a place, the guard will have to sit in the nearest chowky and inform the control room as also make suitable entries in the register.

The new measures also follow a court directive last week to SIT to review the security arrangements for Saiyed’s six co-witnesses in the Naroda Patia riot case who had moved an application for better protection at night.

The court also told the SIT to consider the witnesses protection scheme as directed by the apex court and submit a report on action taken.

On November 11, former IPS officer R B Sreekumar also wrote a letter to SIT chairman R K Raghavan and DGP Chitranjan Singh seeking ‘revitalisation’ of the witness protection scheme.

In his letter, Sreekumar had stated that many riot witnesses who gave substantial evidence to the court and investigating officers on the culpable role of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat had been expressing their helplessness, panic and despair to him, after Saiyed was murdered. According to Sreekumar, the first whistleblower senior police officer to take on Chief Minister Narendra Modi, policemen appointed for security of the witnesses are keener on knowing about the protected person’s movements, and there is no periodical monitoring of the security system and supervisory officers hardly interact with the protected people for their feedback about loop-holes in the system.

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