A committee consisting of senior police officers of the state formed by the Nanavati-Mehta commission to probe into 2002 riot-related documents destroyed by the state government, has not even started its work. The three weeks within which it was to submit its report is already over. Now the committee is likely to seek an extension to submit its report.
According to official sources, the committee has not started its work yet because Additional Director General of Police (Armed Unit) Tirth Raj is on leave. In all probability, the committee will seek more time to submit its report. However, officials of the Nanavati commission said: “We have neither received the inquiry report nor any application seeking an extension.” The matter of destruction of some communications and other documents of the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) of the riot period is growing in seriousness as the state government recently admitted before the Gujarat high court that the documents had been destroyed. In accepting this, the government went back on its earlier statement that the documents were intact.
While disposing of the PIL on October 12 last year, the high court had directed the state to produce documents sought by suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt before the commission. The high court had also asked Bhatt to inspect the documents after which he would have to file an affidavit on the basis of the documents. And now the government says it has destroyed some documents.
The court had acted on the PIL filed jointly by Bhatt and People's Union for the Civil Liberties (PUCL), seeking access to certain 2002 riot-related documents. The IPS officer had claimed that these documents had been repeatedly denied to him both by the state government and the Nanavati commission.
In response to an application from Bhatt, the Nanavati and Mehta commission had ordered earlier this month (January 2013) the setting up of a committee consisting of secretary (Home) MD Antani, and ADGP (Armed Unit) Teerth Raj. The committee was asked to enquire into the matter and specify which documents had been maintained by the government, and in what circumstance some other documents were destroyed. It was also directed to find out whether Bhatt had submitted a report on Godhra riots when he was posted in the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) in 2002.
Bhatt is fighting a legal battle to prove his allegation about the complicity of the state government in the 2002 Godhra riots. He had given testimony to this effect before the commission in June last year. To ascertain the role of the police and the state government during the riots, he wants access to 47 documents related to the movement, communication and action by the police department during the riots that continued for more than three months in 2002.