The Daily Fix

The Daily Fix: Tying up loose ends of 2002, policeman who accused Modi of role in riots is sacked

Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

Above the Fold: top stories of the day
1. Real-estate tycoons Sushil and Gopal Ansal were convicted for negligence leading to the horrific Uphaar cinema fire in Delhi in 1997 that killed 59 people, but will be let off with only a fine.
2. Even after the midnight police raid on Tuesday, students of Film and Television Institute of India ruled out any compromise on their primary demand for the removal of TV actor Gajendra Chauhan as chairman.
3. Throwing the Modi government’s overtures into a tizzy, Pakistan has extended an invitation for a meeting to Kashmiri separatists.

The Big Story: Action-reaction
Police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who had challenged the Narendra Modi administration in Gujarat on its account of the 2002 riots, has been sacked from the Indian Police Service.

In April 2011, Bhatt had filed a petition in the Supreme Court accusing Modi and the Gujarat government he headed at the time of encouraging the pogrom that left about 1,000 people dead. Most of them were Muslim. Bhatt claimed that he had attended a meeting at Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002, at which the chief minister allegedly told his officers to “allow Hindus to vent their anger”. Bhatt was suspended soon after this.

Bhatt's claim were rejected by the Special Investigation Team inquiring into the 2002 riots since it did not square with the testimonies of other people at the meeting.

The reasons given for his sacking include various counts of indiscipline such as staying absent from duty without permission and defying the orders of superior officers.

Bhatt denied these charges.  “This so-called 'unauthorised absence from duty' pertains to the period when I was deposing before the SIT and the Nanavati Commission" inquiring into the Gujarat riots, he said. However, Bhatt said he would refrain from filing an appeal: “if the Government of the day does not require my services, so be it."

Last week, the Gujarat government issued a show-cause notice to Bhatt over a video purportedly showing him with a woman. The notice asked him to explain whether he was having an extra-marital affair.

The Big Scroll: on the day’s biggest story
Using the apparatus of the state to muzzle voices regarding the 2002 pogrom isn’t limited to Sanjiv Bhatt. Since coming to power in 2014, the Modi government has been hounding activist Teesta Seetalvad, using the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The CBI raided Teesta Setalvad's home two weeks before Gujarat high court hears case against Modi's 'clean chit'. However, these charges seem to have little substance.

Politicking & Policying
1. The Congress slammed the government’s double-speak on the Land Bill.
2. Jain protests against the ban on Santhara, the practice of ritual suicide, are gathering strength.
3. As a repercussion of the National Herald case against Sonai Gandhi, which fell through, Rajan S Katoch was replaced as the director of the Enforcement Directorate by senior police officer Karnal Singh.

1. In the Indian Express, Bruce Riedel looks at the legacy of the ISI's Hamid Gul.
2. What are the lessons India can learn from the Kumbh Mela, asks Rahul Jacob in the Business Standard.
3. In the Indian Express, Ram Punyani explores how the historiography of Shivaji in Maharashtra has been completely communalised and sectarianised.

Don't Miss
Will Zakia Jafri’s fresh plea for justice take Gujarat riot investigations to Modi’s doorstep, asks Darshan Desai.
The crux of the arguments by Zakia’s advocates Mihir Desai, MM Tirmizi and others is that the targeted communal attacks on Muslims after the burning of a train coach in Godhra that killed 59 persons, mostly kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya, on February 27, 2002, was not the result of a natural Hindu outburst but a larger conspiracy hatched at the highest political level in Gujarat.

The advocates say that the manner in which the violence played out for 72 hours, when major massacres occurred in the state, could not have been so neatly organised without an elaborate conspiracy, assignment of roles and the material wherewithal for such killings already being in place. For over two months before this, there had been an incendiary revival of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement in Ayodhya by the Vishva Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.


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