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Ex-DGP wants 2002 riots Nanavati report released

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R B Sreekumar, 2002 riots

Gandhinagar: Former Gujarat Police chief RB Sreekumar, who had locked horns with then chief minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 riots, has asked the Anandiben Patel government to make public the inquiry commission report on the violence of 2002 riots.

The report was submitted by retired Supreme Court judge G.T. Nanavati and former Gujarat High Court judge Akshay Mehta, 12 years after it concluded the inquiry with 25 extensions.

The Modi government had on March 6, 2002, appointed justices Nanavati and Mehta to look into the February 27 Sabarmati Express train burning that left 59 people dead and the subsequent riots that killed 1,169 people in the state.

The commission submitted the final report to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel last year soon after she took over the reins of Gujarat from Modi after he became the prime minister.

In a letter to the chief Minister, Sreekumar, who as additional director-general of police (intelligence) reported that Modi’s comments after the riots could prove incendiary in an already communally surcharged atmosphere, said he found it “painful” that no legislator in the state had shown any hurry to ensure an early public release of the commission’s report.

Sreekumar’s letter dated November 18, a copy of which is with IANS, asserts that this was an “obvious instance of breach of legislature’s privilege by the executive wing of the government”.

He pointed out that the Commissions of Enquiry Act, 1952, stipulates that a probe report should be laid before the house of the people or, as the case may be, the legislative assembly … together with a memorandum of the action taken thereon, within six months of the submission of the report.

The commission submitted its report on November 14, 2014, after getting 25 extensions.

Sreekumar had submitted “nine affidavits to the commission, four while in service and five after my superannuation on February 28, 2007 (in all 498 pages), relevant to the terms of reference to the commission”.

He was cross-examined by the commission on August 31, 2004, and September 30, 2011.

He pointed out that during the protracted communal clashes in 2002 (February 27 to May 31), “most gruesome mass killings and destruction of property” took place, including of historic religious-cultural monuments of the 15th century in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Anand, Godhra, Sabarkantha, Kheda, Mehsana, Banaskantha and Dahod districts.

“Significantly, while the anti-Sikh riots in 1984 affected the whole of Delhi city, in Gujarat … ghastly high voltage manslaughter was reported from 11 districts only”, he said.

“The commission must have probed into the enabling factors and ambiance responsible for varying degree of violence in different geographical segments of the state.

“The public, riot victim-survivors, human rights activists, state government functionaries in criminal justice system, sociologists, criminologists, jurists and so on would be naturally anxious and keen to comprehensively study the commission’s wisdom in this aspect and related matters of riots,” Sreekumar said.

The commission was tasked by the government “to recommend suitable measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents (Godhra train fire incident and subsequent riots) in future” and would surely have provided “suitable suggestions” to be “incorporated in the edifice of regulatory architecture of the rule of law in Gujarat”.

Even today, he said, hundreds of riot victim survivors are not in a position to return to their pre-riot habitats for want of resources and other reasons, beyond their control and capacity.

This is one reason why the commission’s recommendations “on relief, reconciliation, rehabilitation and resettlement will be helpful to the sufferers to emerge out of the current state of poverty and privation”.

He said: “The state government’s intransigence in non-publication of the commission report would debilitate and erode the stamina and vigor of democracy and its institutions in Gujarat.”

(Darshan Desai, IANS)

 

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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

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Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)