Riot probe panel’s term extended for 16th time

AHMEDABAD — The Gujarat government has once again — for the 16th time — extended the term of the Nanavati-Mehta Commission probing the 2002 communal riots till December 31.

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Published: Fri 24 Jun 2011, 11:58 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 10:42 PM

The panel comprising retired Justices G T Nanavati and Akshay Mehta, whose term was to expire on June 30, is at present recording the statement of senior IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt who had dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court by filing an affidavit in which he claimed that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had asked police officers to go soft on Hindu rioters .

The commission appointed by the state government on March 3, 2002 has already looked into the 4,145 cases which took place between February 27, 2002 and May 31, 2002 when Hindu-Muslim clashes had reached a fever pitch. It has examined 44,445 affidavits and more than 1,000 witnesses.

In 2004, after the then railway minister Lalu Prasad appointed the U C Banerjee committee to probe the Godhra train burning incident, the state government widened the scope of the commission to include the role of even the chief minister and his council of ministers. However, no minister has been cross-examined by the commission so far.

In its first report in 2008, the panel had concluded that the February 27, 2002 incident in which miscreants had set fire to a coach of an Ahmedabad-bound train near the Godhra railway station in central Gujarat was a ‘pre-planned conspiracy’.

The trial court upheld this view and awarded death sentence to 11 accused and life imprisonment to 20 others.

The opposition Congress last week demanded the list of vital documents of the state intelligence bureau and the Ahmedabad city police commissionerate related to the riot period.

The party, which is also appearing before the commission, has moved an application before the panel stating the papers were needed for a just and expedient inquiry to ‘unveil the truth’.

It demanded the documents on the grounds that Bhatt has made important revelations regarding the role of Modi and former minister of state for home Amit Shah during the 2002 riots.

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