Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gujarat riots: Book recalling tensions between Narendra Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee submitted to panel

Parimal Dabhi : Ahmedabad, Wed Jan 09 2013, 09:26 hrs

Former Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar has submitted to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission a chapter from a retired IAS officer’s memoirs which describes alleged strains in the relationship between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the aftermath of the 2002 riots.
The chapter, which lauds two IPS officers including Sreekumar, and an IAS officer, for taking on the government, “has relevant information for the commission”, Sreekumar said. “Now, it is up to the commission to call Chowdhury for a deposition.”
The book, The Insider’s View, Memoirs of a Public Servant, by Javid Chowdhury, a Gujarat cadre officer of the 1965 batch, says Modi’s government did not want a central team to visit the Shah-e-Alam relief camp in 2002, and the late Ashok Bhatt, then the health minister of Gujarat, had actually threatened to jump from the car if the union health minister insisted on going to the camp.
The book was published last year and widely reviewed. In 2002, Chowdhury was union health secretary, and part of a health ministry team that visited Gujarat on the instructions of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Asked if he would be willing to depose before the Nanavati-Shah Commission, Chowdhury said, “What I have stated in the book (on the riots) is anecdotal. I have no evidence. So there is nothing to depose.”
Chowdhury has written: “Within a day or so of the breakout of the violence, it had become clear to all that the NDA government was embarassed... The PMO suggested that the union health ministry should intervene at least by way of providing medical relief. However, there was no scope for this, as the state government insisted that everything was back to normal, and no central assistance was required. I learnt that the PM had called the health minister and asked him to devise a modality to intervene without raising the hackles of Narendra Modi.”
According to Chowdhury, when he communicated to the PMO that “any attempt on our part without a request from the state government would create a conflict”, the PM “desired that the intervention be taken up under the flag of the Indian Red Cross Society”.
Chowdhury writes that Vajpayee told the health minister — presumably C P Thakur — to proceed to Ahmedabad immediately, taking Chowdhury along. “The insistence that I accompany the minister was perhaps because I was the seniormost Muslim officer of the central government...”

Continue reading at: