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.

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