2002 Gujarat riots SIT report a cover-up: Ex-Army Officer

Retd. Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah
JK Bank

Retd. Lt General Zameer Uddin Shah said on Sunday that the SIT report that gave a ‘clean chit’ to the then Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, is a “cover-up” of the 2002 riots in the state.

According to Mr. Shah, the Army was not given logistical support by the Gujarat administration when it arrived. “It took them more than 24 crucial hours when hundreds of lives were lost to provide us with vehicles, guides, and other logistical support,” he said.

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“The SIT report contradicts everything that I have written in my memoir but let me make this very clear. I was never called by the SIT to present my version of events. I had submitted a detailed report in 2002 itself,” Shah, a decorated Army veteran who was sent to Gujarat to quell the 2002 riots, said during a panel discussion on his book at the closing day of Apeejay Kolkata Literature Festival.

He reiterated that he had written the ‘Gospel truth’, adding that the sequence of events had been recorded in the “war diaries” of the Army. The memoir, published by Konark Publishers, has courted much controversy over its portions relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Shah said in his memoir that after about 3,000 troops landed at the Ahmedabad airfield by 7 a.m. on March 1, 2002, they had to wait for over a day to receive transport and other logistical support from the state government in order to fan out to the cities and towns which were engulfed in violence.

This delay, he said, happened despite a direct request by him to Modi at 2 a.m. on March 1 in Gandhinagar, in the presence of Union Defence Minister George Fernandes.

The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigative Team (SIT) report, which cleared Modi’s name, had concluded that there was no delay “in requisition and deployment of the Army”, based on the testimony of Ashok Narayan, the Additional Chief Secretary (Home).

Shah’s version of events has been backed by then Army chief Gen S. Padmanabhan.

The SIT was headed by R.K. Raghavan, now ambassador to Cyprus. IANS Questions sent to him and his attache at the embassy have not been answered so far.