58 train passengers, including women and
little children, were charred to death on 27th February 2002 when
their compartments were set on fire just as the train moved out of Godhra
The first incidents of retaliatory mob
violence were reported on February 28. They continued in full intensity on 1st
and 2nd March. By 3rd March situation was under control.
After that small incidents were engineered in a few pockets but they were put
I will deal with the how and why of those
incidents in another article. For the moment, I am presenting a very brief
overview of the actions taken by Narendra Modi to control the riots.
Normally, record of actions claimed to have
been taken by governments during riots is not trustworthy because no
proper inquiries are held to authenticate those claims. In the case
of Gujarat, the record of actions can be taken
seriously for the following reasons:
and SIT investigations have been conducted under full glare of a media which
cannot be accused of being friendly towards Modi government. Moreover, SIT
investigations were monitored by the Supreme Court.
government cannot fudge facts about the deployment of army and para- military
forces because of elaborate protocols involved in the movement of troops.
- The number of
bullets fired, pattern of arrests—how many Hindus and how many Muslims held
under preventive detention laws—can’t be fudged when high level inquiries by
central agencies are going on.
If these facts
had proven to be wrong, Narendra Modi could not have escaped indictment by
the Supreme Court monitored Special investigative Team or the Commission of
Inquiry headed by Justice Nanavati in 2005 or the High Court of Gujarat.
The following fact sheet provides only a brief glimpse of actions taken
to quell riots. I will be posting a more detailed fact sheet soon.
The government has taken a serious note of
this….This government will not allow anyone involved to go scot-free and is
taking fool-proof steps…This is mass violence. This government is always trying
to bring about communal harmony and is in favour of preventing any communal
flare-up.’…This inhuman terrorist crime of collective /mass violence is not an
incident of communal violence.” (Translated from Gujarati,
source: CM Press release).
- The Government will
not be lacking in discharging duty...No efforts will be spared in ensuring law
and order.” (Source: CM Press release, Godhra). In the press meet on 27th itself,
the Chief Minister said that though the Godhra incident is shocking and sad,
people should not take law into their hands and government will ensure law and
order by taking necessary steps.
of curfew in Godhra and other potential trouble spots from the day of Godhra
First alert message of 27.02.2002 from the Home
Department covered the need to take precautionary measures including adequate
police bandobast and preventive measures including
instructions to impose prohibitory orders in disturbed areas.
All the Police Commissioners, District Magistrates
and Superintendents of Police directed to remain in the headquarters and
monitor the situation.
In order to cope with the emerging law and order
situation during the Gujarat Bandh call given by BJP, VHP and others to protest
the massacre at Godhra railway station, request was made to the Government of
India to provide 10 companies of Central Para Military Forces in addition to 4
companies of Rapid Action Force.
Large scale preventive arrests of Hindus and
Muslims starting February
27, the day of Godhra incident. On the day of Godhra massacre, 217 preventive
arrests made, out of which 137 were Hindus and 80 were Muslims. This despite
the fact that several BJP leaders, including some who were part of Modi’s own
Cabinet, were actively fomenting trouble;
entire police force of 6000 is deployed in sensitive areas of Gujarat
on the very first day.
62 Companies of
State Reserve Police Force and Central Para Military Forces companies deployed
on February; Out of 62, 58 were of SRPF and 4 were of CPMF.
After his return from Godhra, Chief Minister
calls a late night meeting of senior officials at his residence at 11 p.m to
review the law and order situation and assess the preparedness of the
government in dealing with it. Modi asks his officials to explore the
possibility of army deployment.
with the local army revealed that no force was available for deployment, as all
the units were deployed on the Gujarat border with Pakistan where a war like
situation existed following the Pak inspired terror attack on the Indian
parliament in December 2001. At such a point, the Centre alone could take
decision regarding Army deployment.
Gujarat Government requests
neighbouring states of Maharashtra, Madhya
Pradesh and Rajasthan to send additional police force. Digvijay Singh as CM of
Madhya Pradesh and Ashok Gehlot as CM of Rajasthan decline the request saying
they have no forces to spare. Maharashtra CM, Vilasrao Deshmukh sent some
police force which was returned to them as soon as the situation came under
Modi makes a telephonic
request to the then Home Minister, L.K Advani for deployment of the Army.
As a follow up, Gujarat government sends a fax to the Secretary Ministry
of Defence at 2.30 p.m. seeking deployment of the Army.
Due to tense situation at
the Border and the on-going Operation Prakram, the Army cannot be withdrawn
from the Indo- Pak border of Gujarat.
Therefore, army units have to be airlifted from other states.
CM issued instructions to provide safe escort
to the 6000 Haj Pilgrims returning to the State. This was followed by further
measures in later days. All the 6000 Haj pilgrims from 400 different towns and
villages of Gujarat reached their homes safely
under police escort on 20.03.2002.
Message from Home
Department to all the concerned officers to round up anti social elements and
known communal elements under preventive laws.
George Fernandes, the
then Defence Minister, arrives in Gandhi Nagar and meets the CM at
The first aircraft carrying
army personnel lands at Ahmedabad by midnight of 28th February.
13 Columns of Army deployed
to assist the State Civil administration.
Statements by Narendra Modi on 28.02.2002:
The following was broadcast across Gujarat on Doordarshan at 7 pm and repeatedly broadcasted
I share the grief of
the people of Gujarat but the solution does
not lie in non-peace, non-restraint or venting out of anger.
I pray with folded
hands that this is the time for maintaining peace; the need is to control the
This is the time for maintaining peace. It is necessary to maintain
self-control. We are determined to punish those who are guilty and they will
not be spared.”
He also requested the people of Gujarat to help Gujarat
by maintaining peace.
Will you not help to save Gujarat?
Come and help Government. Government is requesting for help. Government is
seeking your help to punish the guilty through law.”
He also added that it was the collective responsibility of all to ensure
that the innocent are not affected: “Amidst your anger I pray you to
display the unique characteristic of Gujarat-of
showing restraint and maintaining peace during adversities. Come, let us serve Gujarat through peace and self-control,and let us
strengthen the arms of law”…
The entire country
shares our grief but the responsibility to maintain peace and restraint is
ours. I understand your anger, your pain but in the interest of Gujarat, to see
that its future doesn’t get ruined, to ensure that Gujarat doesn’t get a blot
on its face, it is necessary that five crore Gujarati keep calm and exercise
- It is our
responsibility that the lives of innocent are not put at stake…Ver verthi shamtu
nathi” (Hatred is never won over by hatred. My fervent
appeal to the people of the state is that the time has come to strengthen the
hands of law and maintain peace. I pray to the people that they will help in
bringing those involved in violence to book.”(Ahmedabad / dt.28/2/2002)