Sunday, November 06, 2011

Gujarat riots witness killed

Gujarat riots witness killed
Khaleejtimes By Mahesh Trivedi

Nadim Sayed, an eyewitness in a major case of communal riots in Gujarat, was stabbed to death on Saturday morning by some unidentified people in Juhapura area of the city.
As Nadim, also a well-known right-to-information (RTI) activist, came out of his house at 7am to go somewhere, the assailants stabbed him with sharp weapons as many as 28 times and fled the scene. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

Nadim was a key witness in the Naroda Patiya massacre in which 95 Muslims were killed on February 28, 2002, a day after riots erupted in Gujarat following the Godhra train burning incident.

He had testified in the court where the case trial was on a couple of months back. The RTI campaigner was associated with the Congress party and had filed numerous PILs in the Gujarat High Court over sanitation issues in the Juhapura, Godhra riots as well as civic issues.

Nadim had also filed an FIR in August alleging that gangster Mehboob Senior had threatened to kill him if he did not change his statement in the Naroda Patia case. His father, who has lodged a police complaint, told Khaleej Times that his son was a thorn in the flesh of many criminals and corrupt people as he had filed cases against several political leaders in the state. Last year, he was brutally assaulted by local goons.

A top police officer, however, told Khaleej Times that some local people could be behind the murder as Nadim had often tipped off the police on transportation of cows and calves for illegal slaughter. Cow slaughter is banned in Gujarat.

High Court advocate and rights activist Mukul Sinha, who has been fighting cases on behalf of the poor among the riot-hit, said Nadim's murder would weaken their case as he was an important witness, and had exposed some people who were allegedly involved in tampering of evidence.

Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said the state government had once again failed to provide protection to a riot case witness and RTI activist.

While RTI activist Amit Jethwa who ran a green brigade around the Gir lion sanctuary to stop illegal mining was shot dead last year, Bhagu Dewani, a 70-year-old advocate, was brutally beaten up in June last for seeking information under the RTI Act on unauthorised constructions in Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.

In February, Jabbardan Gadhvi, a 45-year-old social reformer of Kutch, had set himself ablaze in the compound of the revenue officer's office in Rapar town in kutch after receiving constant threats from government officials and local policemen for seeking information through the RTI Act on irregularities in cattle grazing in the district.

Meanwhile,  Gujarat's whistleblower police officer Sanjiv Bhatt who has taken on Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been summoned by a local court on November 16 following a complaint by a police investigating officer that he was not co-operating in the inquiry in a case against him and had also tried to mislead the police when called for questioning. The investigating officer had in his complaint before additional chief judicial magistrate B G Doshi accused IPS officer of furnishing false information in order to avoid summons issued to him on four occasions during the inquiry. The investigating officer had in his complaint before additional chief judicial magistrate B G Doshi accused IPS officer of furnishing false information in order to avoid summons issued to him on four occasions during the inquiry. The complaint was lodged in connection with a case whereby Bhatt is accused of forcing a police constable, K D Pant, to sign an affidavit to prove his presence at a meeting called by Modi soon after communal riots broke out on February 27, 2002.

The investigating officer has filed the complaint against Bhatt under section 172 of IPC for absconding to avoid summons and section 177 for furnishing false information to the police. The complainant stated that Bhatt was last issued summons on September 30, but he did not turn up. Instead, the cop wrote a letter saying that he was to appear before the Nanavati-Mehta commission probing the riots. But, said the complaint, the commission had not held any hearing for Bhatt. Acting on this complaint, the court initiated an inquiry under section 202 and asked Bhatt to be present before the court as part of the inquiry. Both charges against Bhatt are non-cognizable and the court can make an inquiry. An offence under section 172 is punishable with simple imprisonment up to one month, and with fine up to Rs500, and there is provision for six months jail term and Rs1,000 find for the offence committed under section 177 of IPC. Bhatt, who was arrested on September 30 on Pant's complaint, was granted bail by a sessions court last month. Meanwhile, social activist and fame classical dancer

Mallika Sarabhai has written a letter to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission to summon Bhatt for deposition. Bhatt has already earlier expressed his willingness for this.

Sarabhai said in the letter that it was important to summon Bhatt for deposition after former DGP RB Sreekumar filed an affidavit on September 16.

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