First-hand accounts from the men who plotted and executed the genocide in Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Sabarkantha. Mayhem was meticulously planned and carried out by VHP-Bajrang Dal cadres across Muslim localities.
NARENDRA MODI visited Godhra on the day of the burning of coach S-6 of the Sabarmati Express. His outburst provided the first sign to Sangh workers that the time to corner the Muslims had come
THAT VERY NIGHT, top BJP and Sangh leaders met at Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Godhra, and gave the green signal for an all-out assault on Muslims across the state
A STRATEGY was devised on how to shield the attackers from the law after the riots. Prominent lawyers were briefed and senior police officers taken into confidence. The cadres were told Modi was squarely behind them
THE MOBILISATION of the under castes, something the Sangh had been engaged in for years, dovetailed into the deep penetration Hindutva already had among Gujarat’s higher castes. Godhra provided the perfect spark to fuse them together
FROM THE very outset, the police played partisan, often joining the mobs. Officers who tried to do their duty found their hands tied. The complicity was led by then Ahmedabad Commissioner PC Pandey, who ensured compliance by a swathe of junior officers
WEAPONS, FROM BOMBS to guns to trishuls, were either manufactured and distributed by Sangh workers themselves, or smuggled through Sangh channels from all over India. The Bajrang Dal and the VHP already had a large cache of firearms and daggers
BJP AND SANGH LEADERS led the bloodthirsty mobs through Ahmedabad’s bylanes, Sabarkantha’s villages, Vadodara’s localities. The police stood guard to the mayhem
BJP MLA MAYABEN KODNANI drove around Ahmedabad’s Naroda locality all day, directing the mobs. VHP leaders Atul Vaid and Bharat Teli did the same at the Gulbarg Housing Society. None of them ever went to jail
FIRE WAS THE MOST FAVOURED weapon in the rioters’ hands. That cremation is considered un-Islamic fuelled their frenzy to burn. Petrol and kerosene were lavishly used, as were the victims’ own gas cylinders
BABU BAJRANGI reveals he collected 23 revolvers from Hindus in Naroda Patiya. He called VHP general secretary Jaideep Patel 11 times and informed Gordhan Zadaphia, the then minister of state for home, about the death toll
GOVERNMENT COUNSEL before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Arvind Pandya, himself worships Modi and describes Justice Shah as “our man”. Nanavati’s own report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots is gathering dust till today.
A Cold Eclipse:
THERE WAS no spontaneity to what happened in Gujarat post- Godhra. This was no uncontrived, unplanned, unprompted communal violence. This was a pogrom. This was genocide.
In a planned, coldly strategic manner, Muslim neighbourhoods across both urban and rural Gujarat were targeted. Large sections of Hindus were united under a single objective: to kill Muslims, wherever and by whatever means, preferably by first stabbing and mutilating them, and then by setting on fire what remained, whether dead or alive. During the course of the TEHELKA sting, many accused said they preferred burning Muslims alive over other forms of death since cremation is considered unacceptable in Islam.
For three days after the February 27 fire on the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, Gujarat’s BJP government receded from public view and let the armed mercenaries of Hindu organisations take over. For three days, absolute anarchy reigned. Execution squads were formed, composed of the dedicated cadre of Hindu organisations — the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Bajrang Dal, the Kisan Sangh, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Masjids and dargahs were destroyed across the state. Seventy-three Muslim religious places were torched in Ahmedabad alone, 55 in Sabarkantha, 22 in Vadodara.
The architects of Gujarat’s greatest shame were of two sorts. There were the coolheaded strategists, the conspirators, who plotted the carnage from behind the scenes. And there were the foot soldiers, the members of the saffron army, drugged on the vicious agenda of so-called Hindutva, who went out and looted, raped and killed. On occasion, the planners were also sometimes emboldened to go out and participate in the massacres.
Nov 3, 2007
Ahmedabad: Carnage Capital:
In Naroda, Gulbarg, Kalupur and Dariyapur, murderous mobs armed to the teeth obeyed the Sangh Parivar’s every word
Muslims who had begged police to protect them the day before huddle in the wreckage of their burned out homes in Ahmedabad
THE MOST horrifying massacre of the Gujarat riots was the one at Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patiya localities in Ahmedabad. A local Bajrang Dal leader, Babu Bajrangi, was one of the main conspirators. He started planning the massacre soon after the news of the Sabarmati incident broke. Starting in the evening of February 27, firearms and inflammable material were collected; Bajrangi also formed a select team, drawn from the cadre of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. Members of the Chhara community, a denotified criminal tribe, were also roped in. TEHELKA spoke to two of them, Suresh Richard and Prakash Rathod. Both believed, and were made to believe, that by killing Muslims they were doing a great service to Hinduism.
On February 28, 2002, Bajrangi marshalled a murderous mob through the narrow bylanes of Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. Egging the mob on was also local BJP MLA Mayaben Kodnani, who is also a doctor. Both Richard and Rathod have been recorded on TEHELKA’s spycam saying that Kodnani drove around Naroda all through the day, urging the mob to hunt Muslims down and kill them. Kodnani’s trusted lieutenant, BJP member Bipin Panchal, was also present with his own small band of followers, armed to the teeth. All through the massacre, Bajrangi and VHP state general secretary Jaideep Patel were on the phone with each other. Bajrangi did not reveal whether Patel was also involved in the planning. However, he did say that the death toll was being communicated to Patel at regular intervals. Several survivors from Naroda Gaon have identified Patel as the leader of the Naroda mob.
At the end of the day the total “score” — as Bajrangi chose to term estimates of the number of Muslims killed — in Naroda was well over at least 200. This figure has not been acknowledged by the state government; officially, 105 people were killed at Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gaon. Naroda, however, was far from the only Ahmedabad locality to be turned into a mass incinerator. A few kilometres away, VHP leaders were leading a frenzied mob at Meghaninagar. The target was a housing society called Gulbarg, a building inhabited by Muslims.
TEHELKA stung three participants in the carnage — Mangilal Jain, Prahlad Raju and Madan Chawal — all three local petty traders and all three with cases against them for their part in the riots. They said they and other members of the mob had been led by VHP leaders Atul Vaid and Bharat Teli, both of whom were named as accused in the FIR but were subsequently cleared of all charges when the police filed the chargesheet. Chawal gave a graphic description of how he and his accomplices first hacked former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri apart limb from limb, and then made a heap of his body parts, which they set on fire.
The official death toll of the Gulbarg massacre stood at 39, but the accused told TEHELKA that the actual number of those killed was much higher. Apart from the housing society’s residents, the dead also included Muslims who lived in nearby slums who had taken shelter in the building. TEHELKA also spoke to VHP leaders Rajendra Vyas and Ramesh Dave, who planned attacks on Muslims in Kalupur and Dariyapur, among Ahmedabad’s most communally sensitive areas. Ahmedabad city VHP president Rajendra Vyas, who was also in charge of the ill-fated Sabarmati Express, said that on the day of the fire on the train that killed 59 karsevaks, he had told the VHP cadre that “the Muslims had played a one-day match and given us a target of 60 runs. We shall now have to play a test match and we won’t stop until we score 600.”
Vyas, who lives in Kalupur, was recorded on the TEHELKA camera stating that he himself had shot dead five Muslims and had burned down nine Muslim houses. Ramesh Dave was the VHP’s point man in Dariyapur. He said he and his fellow planners had targeted and killed Muslims who had been in their sights for over 20 years — “chun-chun ke maara is baar (we specifically hunted them down)”. Dave also claimed that along with a friend, he had arranged for about 10 small firearms.
Nov 3, 2007
Every Muslim locality was attacked in phases spread over two months. At Best Bakery, 14 people were burnt alive
THOUGH NOTHING could be compared to the violence unleashed in Ahmedabad, Muslims in Vadodara — the second largest city in Gujarat — were also assaulted in a phased manner. The first round, which started on February 27 itself, lasted until March 2, with the worst incident taking place on March 1, when 14 persons were burnt alive at the Best Bakery in Hanuman Tekri. Thereafter there was violence between March 15-20 and, following this, between April 25-May 2, with some incidents taking place in the intervening period, especially on March 25.
Almost every major Muslim locality of the city was attacked. Kisanwadi, Sama, Ashabiwi Chawl, Madhavpur II, Makkarpura, Audhootnagar, Raghovpura, Noor Park, Karelibagh, Gotri village, Hajimiyan ka Sara, Hanuman Tekri, Roshannagar, Panigate, Taiwada and Macchipith were among the areas where Hindu mobs went on a rampage. Hundreds of Muslim homes and businesses were looted and torched. In Sama, a relatively new part of Vadodara with a predominantly Hindu population, a mob of around 20 people attacked the residence of Prof JS Bandukwala, a professor of physics at the Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) and a respected figure in Vadodara, on the morning of February 28. The mob left after Prof Bandukwala and his daughter managed to take shelter in their Hindu neighbour’s house.
However, on the following day, March 1, a larger mob, armed with gas cylinders among other weaponry, launched a second assault and succeeded in torching Bandukwala’s house. The homes of two other prominent Muslim bureaucrats in the area were burned down. TEHELKA stung a rioter, Dhimant Bhatt, who was in the mob that torched these three homes. Bhatt is an accountant by profession — he is the chief accountant and auditor of MSU — but his real vocation is to inflict damage on Muslims.
Besides being a university employee, he also works as a personal assistant to the current Vadodara BJP MP Jayaben Thakkar. Bhatt revealed that on the night of the Sabarmati Express incident, a meeting was convened of Vadodara’s top BJP, RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and ABVP functionaries. Bhatt, who is also an RSS member, was present at the meeting, which is where, he says, a strategy of attacking Muslims was outlined. A plan for providing legal assistance to Hindus who may face legal action after the riots was also chalked out at the same meeting.
TEHELKA met another Vadodara BJP leader, Deepak Shah, who not only corroborated what Bhatt told us but also gave the name of the farmhouse where the meeting took place — Narmada Farmhouse. Shah, who is also a member of the Syndicate of the MSU, also corroborated what Babu Bajrangi had boasted of in Ahmedabad — that saffron organizations used lower-caste Hindus for carrying out anti-Muslim attacks.
Nov 03, 2007
‘Lock the door from outside and burn the Muslims inside.’ This was the chilling war cry to which the mobs rallied, led by a VHP leader who had vowed to kill 500 Muslims
Riot victims at a relief camp in Sabarkantha district, 150 kms south of Ahmedabad
THE MAXIMUM economic loss that Muslims suffered was in Sabarkantha district, with hundreds of Muslim houses and businesses razed to the ground. Anil Patel, the VHP vibhag pramukh (departmental chief), was among the key planners of the carnage here. He told TEHELKA that after the Sabarmati incident, he had taken a vow to kill at least 500 Muslims, failing which he would relinquish the VHP office he was holding. “Our war cry was ‘Lock the door from outside and burn the Muslims from the inside’,” Patel told TEHELKA. He also said he had openly urged the VHP and RSS cadres to go out and kill Muslims and burn their properties. There was hardly a village in Sabarkantha where Muslim houses and businesses were not torched, Patel said. A total of 126 Muslim houses were reduced to ashes in Patel’s own village, Dhansura, he revealed.
Patel said there while was no single strategy, the intent was to inflict maximum casualties and damage on Muslims. He also said that Pravin Togadia had been coordinating matters at the district level during the carnage. Patel said Togadia told him to work in such a way so as to ensure that important VHP workers were not booked and sent behind bars. In Sabarkantha, 1,545 houses and 1,237 business of Muslims were torched, and 549 shops were ransacked.
Nov 03, 2007
The VHP and the Bajrang Dal manufactured and distributed lethal weapons across the state, often with the connivance of the police.
HARESH BHATT, who was the Bajrang Dal rashtriya sah sanyojak in 2002 and is now the BJP MLA from Godhra, till the riots a Congress stronghold, made a never-before admission that bombs were made at a firecracker factory he owned. He describes how they assembled country-made explosives, including rocket launchers. These were then distributed to murderous mobs in Ahmedabad
IN 2002, despite curfew in Ahmedabad, swords were brought in from Punjab and country pistols from UP, Bihar and MP. Bhatt boasts that none of these states were under BJP rule then. The consignment of arms crossed the borders not once but many times. “There were tens and tens of them,” Bhatt reveals
IN AN UNRELATED but crucial disclosure, Bhatt says that he trained 40 young men who then went on to demolish the Babri Masjid in December 1992. He trained them like the army does, and ran obstacle courses for them and taught them how to climb a 30-ft rope. The camp still exists in Ahmedabad
DHAWAL JAYANTI PATEL of the VHP used dynamite in his quarries in Sabarkantha. With the help of an old RSS hand, Amrudh Patel, who was an expert in handling explosives, bombs were made in the quarries using dynamite and RDX-based powder
ANIL PATEL, the VHP Vibhag pramukh, talks of how explosives were made in Sabarkantha and then supplied to Ahmedabad
Terror’s Proud Merchants:
The VHP and the Bajrang Dal in Gujarat were indistinguishable from terror outfits, manufacturing and distributing bombs, rocket launchers and firearms across the state
THE VISHWA Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its so-called youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, were the major groups involved in the massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Though civil society groups and human rights activists have been vocal about the role of these outfits all through the genocide, only a few of their members have been implicated on charges of murder and rioting. Babu Bajrangi, a Bajrang Dal zealot, is among the few facing trial for their role in the massacre. By and large, most rioters from the VHP and Bajrang Dal, particularly its top leadership, walked away with blood on their hands.
It’s not difficult to see why. The Bajrang Dal and the VHP are nothing but extensions of the BJP, which was in power in the state at the time and also led the coalition government at the Centre. During the investigation, TEHELKA found out how leaders of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal had planned the pogrom. To execute their plan “effectively”, they required military hardware, they required weapons more sophisticated and lethal than swords, knives and tridents, arms better suited to hand-to-hand combat. They needed an arsenal that could kill in large numbers.
The TEHELKA investigation found that the VHP and the Bajrang Dal had transformed themselves into terror outfits that manufactured and distributed bombs, rocket launchers and firearms in large quantities after the Godhra incident. This weaponry was then handed over to murderous mobs across Gujarat.
Nov 03, 2007
Shocking accounts of how the guardians of the law colluded with the outlaws to make Gujarat’s horror even worse
POLICE COMMISSIONER PC Pandey (recently removed from the post of Gujarat DGP by the Election Commission) ordered that the 700-800 dead bodies at Naroda Patiya be clandestinely picked up and dumped all over Ahmedabad to reduce the toll of the massacre
BAJRANG DAL LEADER Babu Bajrangi says he surrendered when Narendra Modi asked him to do so. Joint Commissioner (Crime Branch) PP Pandey and his men arrested him, and told him it was all part of a show
ON PAPER, District Superintendent of Police ND Solanki sent a local Sangh leader to judicial custody, but in reality he sent him to stay in a VHP office
DCP GADVI promised VHP’S Kalupurzila mantri Ramesh Dave that he would kill “at least four-five Muslims” if Dave pointed them out to him. Dave took him to a house from where a group of Muslims could be seen. “Before we knew it, he’d killed five people,” Dave said
INSPECTOR KG ERDA told the mob gathered outside the Gulbarg society it had three hours to do its work. The mob went berserk. One man was hacked to death in front of Erda
ERDA told VHP workers to set fire to a vehicle carrying Muslims. He said that the police constable accompanying the vehicle would run away. “The whole episode will end here itself and there will be no question of framing a case against anyone,” he said
Khaki Klan Killers
From willing connivance to leading attacks on Muslims, the police smoothed the path for the rioters in every way they could
AT AROUND 6pm on March 2, 2002, in Bhavnagar district’s Ghogha Road, over 200 Muslim children were sheltering in a madarsa when a Hindu mob descended on it, baying for blood. Rahul Sharma, then Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police (SP), ordered his troops to open fire. The mob dispersed, the children were saved.
Over the next two weeks, after the Bhavnagar incident, the police took similarly courageous action at a few other places. By March 16, eight people had been killed in police firing in Bhavnagar district; five were Hindu, two Muslim. Timely intervention kept the district more or less free of killings. On March 16, however, at 10:10am, Sharma received a call from then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadaphia.
“Zadaphia said that while I had done a good job, the ratio of those who died in the police firing was not proper — he was complaining about there being more Hindu deaths than Muslim. I told him things would depend on the ground situation and the nature of the mob,” Sharma said in his deposition before the Nanavati-Shah Commission.
Sharma also told the Commission that when he had called up then Director General of Police K. Chakravarty on March 1, 2002, at around 10:20pm, to request the deployment of additional forces in Bhavnagar, the DGP had said that “though he would send one State Reserve Police Force company the next morning, I should not expect more help as the bureaucracy had been completely compromised.”
The two conversations Rahul Sharma had with Zadaphia and the Director General of Police provide ample indication of the role the majority of the police force played during the 2002 massacre, joining ranks with the mobs that were setting Gujarat on fire. From egging on murderous hordes to go for the kill, to supplying them with ammunition, to transporting bombs between districts, to opening fire at Muslims who were already under attack from Hindu rioters — the police facilitated the massacre in every possible way.
Here are some firsthand accounts from the rioters and conspirators of the help they received from sections of the police in the nightmare days when the upholders of law turned into rioters in uniform.
‘The Cops Did As The State Wished’
Talking to HARINDER BAWEJA, former ADGP Intelligence, RB Sreekumar, endorses the rioters’ view that the government was on their side
When you were ADGP intelligence, had you filed a report saying weapons had been smuggled from Sabarkantha?
In 2002, weapons were recovered from some Muslim areas. Our information was that they were manufactured in an iron works unit in Wadgam, owned by a VHP worker. I had sent the report in writing and also informed KR Kaushik, then the Ahmedabad police chief. When they conducted a raid, nothing was found, but I learned later that the raiding party had leaked the information, which is why nothing was found. The press found out and Hindustan Times ran a front-page report. They kept harassing me but nothing came of it. It was strongly suspected that they were manufacturing tamanchas — country-made firearms.
Were these weapons used during the riots?
This information came later on. An inquiry was ordered against me — but the DGP said no action could be taken because it is routine for Intelligence to share information.
Was any action taken against the raid party?
(laughs) The raid party’s action was in tune with the political interests of the ruling party. The recovery was shown from the Muslims to make the point that the police was doing a good job of maintaining law and order. Subsequently, on August15, DG Vanzara and others were rewarded for this recovery.
Did you file any reports on the flow of arms or bombs during the riots?
Copies of my reports were appended in my first affidavit to the Nanavati-Shah Commission. There was a report on the distribution of trishuls. I took over in April 2002; by then, the frenzy had come down. I had sent reports saying FIRS were not registered properly, many offences were being clubbed together and that the names of the VHP leaders at the head of the mob were being left out of FIRs. This became a controversy. On none of these reports did the government take any follow-up action or seek any clarification. That is very relevant.
Key BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists speak openly of how Narendra Modi blessed the anti-Muslim pogrom
NARENDRA MODI’s anger was palpable after the Godhra incident; he vowed revenge. Haresh Bhatt, the then national co-coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, was part of the meeting in which Narendra Modi told them they could do whatever they wanted for the next three days. After that, Bhatt says, “He asked us to stop and everything came to a halt.”
RAJENDRA VYAS, the VHP’s Ahmedabad city president, was consoled by Modi, who said, “Rajendrabhai, calm yourself, everything will be taken care of.”
NOT ONLY DID THE MODI government allow the mob fury to continue unabated, it also tried to shelter the perpetrators from the law. Modi himself arranged for Babu Bajrangi, the prime accused in the Naroda Patiya case, to stay at Gujarat Bhavan in Mount Abu, and transferred two judges to help Bajrangi get bail
SINCE THE POLICE were in control all over Gujarat, Modi instructed them to side with the Hindus, thus giving the rioters a free hand for three days until pressure from higher quarters necessitated the calling in of the army
AFTER THE NARODA PATIYA carnage, the chief minister himself went to the site and acknowledged the efforts of the Chhara tribe, who were key participants in the massacre at Naroda Patiya
ARVIND PANDYA, government counsel, is convinced that Modi’s strong leadership made the post-Godhra carnage possible
Thy Hand, Great Anarch
Accused after accused testified to how the Gujarat genocide would not have been possible had Narendra Modi not sent out clear directives to the administration to look the other way
EARLIER SECTIONS have detailed how leaders of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal conspired and plotted the massacres. How preparations for largescale killings had begun soon after the news of the Sabarmati Express fire was out. How execution squads were formed comprising committed workers of various saffron outfits. How the police turned a blind eye to the violence and in some cases even participated in it, shoulder to shoulder with the mob. How the prosecution plotted to threaten and buy off survivors, instead of ensuring that the accused were convicted.
The massacre and its cover-up were executed at different levels of the BJP government and its extensions like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal. So, was there a ringmaster running the show or was the Gujarat massacre an uncoordinated affair? Was there an invisible hand pulling the strings from behind the stage?
What was the real extent of the role played by the man who ruled the state in a time of carnage that was supported by the various arms of his own government? Was Modi responsible for police complicity in the genocide? Did he give the go-ahead to such bloodthirsty leaders of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal as Babu Bajrangi, Haresh Bhatt and Anil Patel? TEHELKA tried to ascertain the truth from the assassins themselves. And this is what they had to say about Modi and his role.
Nov 03, 2007