Justice Nanavati Commission submitted its final report on the 2002 Gujarat riots to State Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, but commission members refused to reveal any contents of the report. Now, one can hope that this report which has been submitted almost after 12 years of the incident is the final one. There is no point in gambling the contents of the report and we should have (at least pretend) faith in Justice Nanavati. Moreover, Nanavati’s (and Modi from behind) strategy pays off, people know the contents already – there was no direct involvement of the state administration, they did all they could. However, they were ill equipped. State Ministers were not there supporting the rioters but controlling them. There will be one or two state administration officials who will be found derelict of their duties. They will get five years imprisonment and halfway through there will be new evidence which means they will be free early. Some of the officials will be provided BJP memberships and they will come back to legislature as clean individuals. However, the local people who know their truth will vote for them as they were able to check the growth of these anti-social minorities. Otherwise, Gujarat 2002 is not merely an issue for political debate. It is a question of justice for the hundreds of innocent women, unborn babies and men who were massacred.
Anyway, long back Modi had told the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team — which is probing some of the gruesome carnages during the 2002 communal riots in the State — that he never issued any instructions to top police officers to allow Hindus to “vent their anger” against Muslims in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage. The findings of the SIT report notwithstanding, is that not the State head is not to be ultimately held responsible for the complete failure of the state machinery which massacred a section of the state’s own citizens carried out on such a large scale. If not, then is it not that something grave in nature, is missing in the system of governance? And if he is, then how he is to be prosecuted and what form of punishment should be awarded to him? It was well in Modi’s capacity as the state head to book the perpetrators of the Godhra Train Carnage and to ensure severest punishment for them. Even by not involving himself directly or indirectly in the riots, as made out by the SIT report, remaining a mute spectator to the ghastly events for days, points to his complicity in the matter in some manner.
The final report of the commission on the 2002 riots, in which more than 1,000 people — mostly of minority community — were killed, comes after extensive investigation which ran over a period of more than 12 years. Last month, Justice Nanavati had said that, “There is no need to seek 25th extension, as our final report is ready. It is now being printed and will come to us in coming days. We will submit the report to the government soon.” In 2008, the inquiry panel had submitted one part of its finding with regard to the Godhra train burning incident, in which it had concluded that the burning of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express near Godhra railway station was a “planned conspiracy”.
Initially, the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the commission were to inquire into the facts, circumstances and course of events that led to the burning of the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express. The panel had been constituted by the state government on March 3, 2002, under the Commission of Inquiry Act, comprising Justice K.G. Shah in the wake of the Godhra train carnage on February 27, 2002, and the subsequent communal riots across the State.
In May 2002, the State government appointed retired Supreme Court Justice G.T. Nanavati as the chairman of the commission and the TOR were further amended in June 2002, as per which the panel was also asked to inquire the incidents of violence that took place after the Godhra incident. In 2008, after the death of Justice K.G. Shah, Retd. High Court Justice Akshay Mehta was appointed to the panel. The commission was given 24 extensions of around six months each to complete its investigations. The commission investigated roles of then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as per the TOR, his Cabinet colleagues of that time, senior government and police officers along with functionaries of some right wing organisations during the period of 2002 riots.
Why people have lost faith in the system? They should have been given some more extensions. Twelve years for the case; shame for the panel and shame for the government.
The Conclusion: Clean chit to everyone and what else?