Monday, 16 May 2016

2016-05-12 'Book on Gujarat riots' by L.S. Herdenia [May 12, 2016]

By L.S. Herdenia

A book "Gujarat Behind the Curtain", exposing the misdeeds of the administration and police during 2002 Gujarat violence was launched at a function held here. Bhopal was chosen for the launching programme because no other organisation gave consent to hold a programme to release the book.

Mr. RB Sreekumar, former Director General of Gujarat Police is the author of the book. He served Gujarat in various capacities. Serving as Additional DGP (Intelligence) of Gujarat from 9th April 2002 to 18th September 2002, he submitted numerous truthful reports, exposing the culpable collaborative role of political and administrative bureaucracy and police in the communal violence in 2002 and subsequent subversion of criminal justice system. Though the state government penalised him, he could get justice from higher judiciary and got promotion to the rank of Director General of Police (DGP) after his superannuation. Reputed NGOs and Human Rights Bodies of Kerala, Maharashtra, USA and Gulf bestowed awards on him for excellence in public service and commitment to foundational ideals of the constitution of India.

The release programme was organised by All India Secular Forum. Mr. KS Dhillon, former DGP, Punjab and former vice-chancellor of Bhopal University was in the chair. LS Herdenia, convener of the forum introducing Sreekumar said that he deserved the highest civil honour for the outstanding courage with which he performed his duty. His book will continue to inspire future generation of the police officers. Dhillon said that if we have more police officers like Sreekumar, the country may become crime free and the common man will enjoy a secured life.

Mr. Sreekumar addressing the audience said the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 and violence in Gujarat, after killing of 59 Ram Bhaktas in Godhra Railway Station in 2002, and subsequent subversion of Criminal Justice System in Gujarat State, had inflicted infamy on the image of Indian State and its commitment to the Rule of Law. Unlike terrorist attacks and explosions, no communal riots can prolong unless the authorities avoid implementation of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), to control and contain mass violence and normalize public order. High Voltage mass violence was reported from 11 of 30 police administrative units of Gujarat. Significantly, volume of crime was directly proportionate to the commitment of law enforcers in police and Executive Magistracy, to implement SOP, ignoring extra-legal pressures from unauthorized quarters.

The book uncovers the author's experience as a senior police officer and citizen about background, course and aftermath of 2002 communal holocaust. The author provides substantial evidence on planners and perpetrators of violence. Basing on his situation assessment reports, the Central Election Commission, in August 2002, had refused to accept the State Assembly Election Schedule proposed by the State Government, after premature dissolution of the Assembly. Instances of complacency of the Judicial Commission by not probing deeply into inputs on the omissions and commissions of government officials and political bureaucracy are delineated. The Special Investigation Team (SIT), constituted by the Supreme Court, had practically been transformed into a team of defence lawyers of the planners, organizers and enablers of violence, by booking only foot soldiers of communal crimes, the author lamented.

The author throws light on the soul-less secularism of the India National Congress, betraying opportunistic communalism, by appeasement of minority and majority communalism simultaneously. How the government failed to practice 'Raj Dharma', both as per the ideals of Indian heritage and provisions of the Constitution of India is explained. The imperativeness of providing statutory frame-work to the concepts of command responsibility and accountability of supervisory cadre in the government, is projected as the vital lesson to be learnt for forestalling repetition of mass crimes in future.

The book consists of 14 chapters. Each chapter begins with relevant quotations from Gita, Veda and Upnishad and also religious books in Malayalam. This indicates his mastery over Sanskrit language. The author in one chapter quotes from a speech in which Chief Minister Narendra Modi makes derogatory remarks about Jawaharlal Nehru University. On 25th June 2002, in a conference of senior officers, chaired by the CM, he directed officers to enforce law, in tune with the prevailing political atmosphere. He also advised officers not to be influenced by the JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University) brand of secularism.

In the chapter titled "Collaborators of mass crime and enforcers of the Rule of Law" Sreekumar provides the list of such officers who have been consistently victimised for their strict adherence to their charter of duties. They include Rahul Sharma, IPS, Sanjiv Bhatt, IPS, Rajnish Rai, IPS, Vivek Shrivastava, IPS, Himanshu Bhatt, IPS, MD Antani, IPS, Satish Chandra Verma, IPS and Jaswinder Singh Rana, IAS. All these officers refused to follow Chief Minister's directive and did not allow outbreak of communal violence in the areas of their command.

He also commended the role of national media and main T.V. Channels, which depicted the ground situation without any distortion. He notes that some vernacular newspapers and periodicals were influenced by Hindu fundamentalist sentiments during riots and after. The book, among others has been dedicated to Late Ehsan Jafri, Member of Parliament who was brutally killed by rioters on February 28, 2002.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

2016-02-05 'Facts of a carnage' by A. G. Noorani

"Facts of a carnage"

An important addition to the documentation of the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, the book deserves a wide readership. 
THE author, R.B. Sreekumar, served with distinction as an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Gujarat cadre. A Keralite, he was respected for his ability and integrity. He was Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) of Gujarat from April 9, 2002, to September 18, 2002. He was penalised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Narendra Modi for his truthful reports. He was a witness to the subversion of the criminal justice system. The courts gave him relief and he was promoted to the rank of DGP after his superannuation.
Gujarat is an important addition to the documentation of the 2002 pogrom after the Godhra outrage on February 27, 2002, in which 58 kar sevaks, who were returning from Ayodhya, died.
The book comprises Sreekumar’s reliable personal testimony and references to documents.
“On 28 February 2002 forenoon, I was on my way to office in [the] State Police Headquarters at Gandhinagar from [my] residence in Ahmedabad city. …I found bandh supporters freely moving on [the] road equipped with sticks, shouting anti-Muslim slogans, burning tyres and waste material right on the roads, and so on. They were forcing the commercial establishments, including pan shops and street vendors, to close down their business, in [the] presence of inactive and unresponsive policemen.”
Sreekumar met the DGP, K. Chakravorti, who “hinted that the Chief Minister had convened a meeting of senior officers at his residence after his return from Godhra in the late evening of 27th February 2002. The DGP said the CM told the officers in the meeting that ‘in communal riots, the police normally take action against Hindus and Muslims on one-to-one proportion; this will not do now, allow Hindus to give vent to their anger’.”

Anonymous notes
The author prepared anonymous notes on the behaviour of the police positioned in sensitive areas “acting as facilitators to rioters, higher number of persons from victim community getting killed in police firing and riots, belligerent mobs shouting about police abetment to their crimes”. The author sent a report titled “An Analytical Note on Current Communal Scenario in Ahmedabad City” to Additional Chief Secretary Ashok Narayan and the DGP on April 24, 2002.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

2016-04-10 'About those who make and cull laws' by Humra Quraishi

"About those who make and cull laws"

Humra Quraishi
In the summer of 2011, when I interviewed Gujarat cadre cop RB Sreekumar, I knew he had a book in him. He was aware of the ground realities of the 2002 pogrom of Gujarat. He knew the exact sequences, along with the dates and timings and even names and surnames of the planners and perpetrators of violence.

Sreekumar was the first whistle-blower cop of Gujarat cadre and suffered the expected backlash for that. To quote him: “I was additional DGP (intelligence) of Gujarat from April to September 2002. I’d been reporting the Sangh Parivar and Modi government’s role in that carnage. My reports to the government were submitted in four affidavits of 600 pages whilst I was still in service. Later, I submitted two more affidavits. I did so in keeping with my duty as a civil servant and my oath to uphold the Constitution of India. Expectedly, I was superseded in February 2005. The Modi government served me a nine-point chargesheet with the aim of dismissing me from service. Though the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) quashed all charges against me, and the Gujarat High Court upheld CAT’s order, the Modi government appealed against that. Till date, the case is pending in the High Court. Even after my retirement, I’m not free from agony”.

Now, as the cop comes out with his book, he details the 2002 communal holocaust. Well-laced with political build-ups, communal patterns and bureaucracy’s role, it brings out the facts that riots had political backing, more importantly, that of the top brass.

He narrates several instances of what went on ‘behind the curtain’. A quote from the book: ‘On 28 June 2002, after a review meeting regarding the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra, the Chief Secretary suggested to me that in case someone was trying to disturb the Rath Yatra or planning to spoil it, those people should be eliminated if necessary.’

At another place, he writes, ‘In the afternoon (of 28 February 2002), I met DGP K Chakravorti in his chamber. I found him quite perturbed, helpless and stress-ridden about widespread mass violence in the cities of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and many rural areas. He lamented that things were taking a bad shape and activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal and BJP were leading armed crowds, and police officers, at decisive level on the ground, were not intervening effectively as they were keen on avoiding crossing swords with supporters of the ruling party....” The book carries several other instances, potent enough to nail several big names on the political and bureaucratic circuit of the day.

One aspect that stands out throughout the book is the numerous quotes from the scriptures that Sreekumar weaves in to highlight every individual’s duty to stand up for justice and protect the hapless against all possible odds. As he sums up, “How the government failed to practice raj dharma, both as per the ideals of the Indian heritage and provisions of the Constitution of India.”