The Supreme Court on 5 July 2019 upheld the conviction of all 12 accused in the Haren Pandya murder case. Former Gujarat Home Minister Pandya was shot dead on 26 March 2003 in Ahmedabad. In the comments, the Supreme Court today threw out journalist Rana Ayyub’s book ‘Gujarat Files’ which was cited by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the NGO which had filed the PIL challenging conviction of the accused. The truth of Haren Pandya’s killing can be read here.
The apex court today observed that Ayyub’s book has no utility. Adding that the book is based upon surmises, conjectures and suppositions and has no evidentary value, the court said, “The opinion of the person is not in the realm of the evidence. There is a likelihood of the same being politically motivated, cannot be ruled out. The way in which the things have moved in Gujarat post-Godhra, such allegations and counter-allegations are not uncommon and had been raised a number of times and have been found to be untenable and afterthought.”
Reading the court’s judgement took me back to June 2016 when I read her book. Following were my observations on the book and dismantling of her claims.
About Rana Ayub: Rana Ayub is a known anti-Modi, anti-BJP journalist. She has tweeted outrageous lies many times in the past. She has tweeted that the Gujarat government of Narendra Modi deliberately displayed the dead bodies of the Godhra victims which caused riots.
This is absolutely wrong on facts, since far from doing so, special care was taken to prevent display of bodies to anyone. The transport of these bodies was done inside trucks, and no one could see them, and it was also done from 11:30 pm – 12 midnight to 3:30 am, from Godhra to Ahmedabad on the night of 27 Feb & morning of 28 Feb 2002.
Even after coming to Western Ahmedabad’s isolated hospital, care was taken to send the bodies to the crematoriums (those which were not cremated at the hospital itself, some had been cremated at the hospital itself) in vehicles, not visible to anyone, while this could have been done on foot as well. This shows the sincerity of the government in preventing display of the bodies. The SIT appointed by the Supreme Court has said all this in its closure report on page 63 as well. The full truth of this false charge is given in Myth 24 in the website www.gujaratriots.com
She has also lied that Ehsan Jafri, the late Congress MP called Narendra Modi during the time of the riots. This is another lie, since it has been established completely that nothing of this sort was done. The full truth can be read in Myth 23 in the website www.gujaratriots.com
Having seen the background of the writer, we see the book. The book has to be judged on merit, and not on what the writer did in the past.
Reality- what is really in the book “Gujarat Files”?
In the foreward, Justice B.N. Srikrishna himself says: “As to whether the material presented in this book represents facts, or mere perspective vision of the events is for the reader to judge…While one may not be in a position to validate all that is narrated in the book, one cannot but admire the courage and passion displayed by the author in her attempts to unmask what she believes to be the truth.” With this description in the foreward itself, the reality becomes obvious! Even the foreward writer does not call it as the truth.
A large part of this book is absolutely irrelevant. There are 11 chapters in this book. Chapter 1 does not contain any recorded conversation or transcripts, but just the author’s own perceptions, and opinion against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and a bit of self-praise of having got ‘Amit Shah arrested in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case’ ignoring his acquittal completely.
The entire book simply assumes that the Gujarat Government (more specifically, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah) were involved in promoting riots and fake encounters and targeted upright officers, without giving facts to support this theory. Chapter 2 describes (in far too much detail than necessary) how Rana Ayub assumed the name Maithili Tyagi, and presented herself as an ‘Independent Film-maker from American Film Institute Conservatory, Los Angeles’, got an assistant who was a 19-year old European, and pretended to be making a film on the development in Gujarat. With this story, she talked to officials in Gujarat with secret recording devices. The excessive details are irrelevant to the topic ‘Gujarat Files’.
Rana Ayub’s bias and assumptions are revealed bluntly, and she calls all encounters of Sadiq Jamal, Sameer Pathan, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh, Sohrabuddin and Prajapati as fake. In reality, as of now only one or at maximum two encounters can be stated as indefensible, namely Sohrabuddin and Prajapati, both of whom were criminals. In Chapter 3, she gives all irrelevant details of how she met police officer G L Singhal, who she accuses of ‘killing Ishrat Jahan in cold blood’ and a small part on some relevant conversations.
These conversations do not carry the slightest value as evidence, since they were supposed private conversations recorded secretly, in which the officers could have been indulging in boastful lies, or plain lies, to boast or impress a supposed American film-maker. The conversation cited with Singhal gives nothing of importance, he in fact says he has no support from the system. Now, if Rana Ayub assumes Singhal as guilty of being involved in a fake encounter (of Sohrabuddin), then no support from the system to him will actually contradict her allegation of the Gujarat Government favouring ‘Yes-men’ since she alleges the Government was involved in the fake encounters!
Chapter 4 also contains a lot of irrelevant details, and some text of a conversation with Rajan Priyadarshi, ex-ATS chief of Gujarat. Priyadarshi talks a bit against Modi and Amit Shah, but it is not believable and seems to be out of personal bias. It also doesn’t carry any value as evidence. Rana Ayub goes to the extent of saying: “Priyadarshi was the state ATS chief and Amit Shah had confided in him that Ishrat Jahan was being held in a bunglow, confined in custody before she was killed in cold blood.” This is laughable- since even if, for argument’s sake, one would assume that Ishrat Jahan was killed in a fake encounter, there is no way anyone would leak this to other officers before the encounter.
Secondly, Ishrat Jahan was a terrorist indeed, owned up by the Lashkar-e-Toiba, also by David Headley, with Intelligence Bureau inputs, and also revealed from her mother’s contradictory statements. If she was innocent, why on earth would Gujarat Police choose an unknown 19-year old from Thane to kill in a fake encounter, instead of choosing grown-up criminals from Gujarat? It is like the West Bengal Police deciding to kill 2 people in a fake encounter with Pakistani terrorists in Kolkata, and deciding to kill an unknown 19-year old girl from Patna, Bihar for it! How ridiculous to assume so! To know the full truth, read this article.
At the end of Chapter 4, she repeats slander against Amit Shah, accuses him of using policemen to indulge in surveillance of a young woman architect Madhuri (who Rana Ayub names by her real name). This despite the fact that the woman concerned herself said along with her father that it was not surveillance but security, which was given with her consent and desire, against the activities of a person who was a dear of the secular lobby. This is false defamation of Amit Shah with no regard for facts- in plain English these are blatant lies, calling security as ‘stalking’.
Chapter 5 is completely irrelevant, and does not give any conversation at all. In Chapter 6, conversations with Ashok Narayan, ex-Chief Secretary, Gujarat Government are cited. Rana Ayub egged him on to say that Modi gave orders to Police officials to allow Hindus to riot the next day in that crucial 27 Feb 2002 late night meeting in which Ashok Narayan was a participant, but he denied Modi said this even in that supposed private chat with ‘Maithili Tyagi’. Ashok Narayan made some vague statements that some Ministers of the Government were on the roads inciting riots without specifying a single case (which is absolutely wrong, since the only Minister accused of this was the late Haren Pandya)- this was a lie made by Ashok Narayan to impress American film maker Maithili Tyagi in a private chat, that he was a ‘law holding upright officer opposing such acts’.
Rana Ayub also says ‘Most police officers had decided to compromise on their integrity to the Modi dispension’. This is another assumption which is totally wrong- the thought that the Modi Government wanted to stop or prevent riots, and do its best to control them did not even occur to her, nor did she see the actual role of the Government in preventing and controlling violence- such as preventive arrests on 27 Feb 2002 itself, appeals for peace, Army deployment in rapid quick time, 15,369 tear gas shells burst, 10,559 rounds fired, 199 police firing deaths, 20,000 preventive arrests later, etc. Rana Ayub again tried to make Ashok Narayan say that Modi ordered officials to allow Hindus to riot in the 27 Feb meeting, but Ashok Narayan again denied he doing so.
Ayub claims that this supposed private chat with Ashok Narayan proves complicity of the government in the riots, while it doesn’t carry the slightest value- what an official says to a supposed American film-maker of the Hindu ideology in a private chat is different from the records of the actual role of the government. No specifics, not a single specific case mentioned, just vague talk. But Ashok Narayan also said that no one (in the Govt) told him to do anything wrong!
On pages 445-450 the report of the SIT appointed by the SC says, after giving various facts:
“There is evidence available on record to show that immediately (after Godhra which occurred between 7:47 to 8:20 AM on 27 Feb) the State machinery was put on the high alert and this was communicated to al District authorities and Commissioners of Police. The 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 issuance of prohibitory orders depending upon the local situation. It was instructed that anti-social and hardcore communal elements should be dealt with firmly… (Page 445)
The alert message of 27-02-2002 was followed by another message from Home Department on 28-02-2002 to all concerned to round up anti-social and known communal elements under the preventive laws. It was further instructed that mobile patrolling should be intensified and adequate protection should also be provided at places of worship and that effective action should be taken to disperse unruly mob, unlawful assemblies, using whatever force necessary. It was also made clear that anti-social elements indulging in violence and bent upon jeopardizing communal harmony must be controlled firmly. Another message dated 28-02-2002, impressed upon all concerned officers to maintain adequate bandobast for 01-03-2002, being Friday and the day of Namaz for the Muslims. Adequate bandobast was directed to be provided to all sensitive areas and curfew was ordered to be strictly enforced… (Page 446)
…It was understood that withdrawing the Army at such critical juncture when war like situation existed with the neighbour needed a high level decision at the Centre. This decision to withdraw the Army and deploy in Gujarat was immediately taken at the highest level in the Centre at the request of Gujarat Govt.… (Page 447)
…The State Govt. had also made a request on 28-02-2002, to the neighbouring States of Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to spare the services of their Armed Reserve Police companies. However, only Maharashtra responded by sending 2 Coys of SRP, whereas the Govt. of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh expressed their inability to spare any police force due to the internal commitments. It may thus be seen that there was no delay, whatsoever in requisitioning the Army and its deployment by the State as and when they realized on 28-02-2002 afternoon that the situation was going beyond control. Significantly, Union Defence Minister arrived at Ahmedabad on 28.02.2002 night to ensure that Army formations take their positions without delay.
Shri G. Subba Rao, the then Chief Secretary, who had gone abroad, was recalled and he arrived on 01-03-2002… (Page 448)
…Frantic messages were sent by the Home Department on 01-03-2002 to 06-03-2002 and specific instructions were given to the effect that the riots had to be controlled and all steps should be taken to restore normalcy and peace in the State… (Page 449)
…Further investigation has established that the State Govt. was reasonably vigilant vis-à-vis the developments on the law & order front and immediately responded by bringing to the notice of all District officials, the need to maintain adequate bandobast in view of the Godhra incident on 27-02-2002…(page 450)”
Rana Ayub does not deal with any of this, ignores all of this, and cites vague conversations in a supposed private chat to claim that the Government was involved in riots!
Rana Ayub lies in Chapter 6 : “A key point in the SIT report on the 2002 riots was that it affirmed that the Narendra Modi government persecuted police officers who tried to put an end to the violence in 2002 and that there persecution and hounding by the state had continued even after the riots”. This is absolutely false.
On page 78, of the SIT report, the SIT quotes the allegation in the complaint of Zakia Jafri that officers Rahul Sharma, Vivek Shrivastava, Himanshu Bhatt, M D Antani, R B Sreekumar and Satishchandra Verma (all IPS) were given ill-treatment with transfers, so as to facilitate placement of those willing to subvert the system for political and electoral benefits. On pages 79, 80 and 81 the SIT quotes the versions of these officers themselves- Rahul Sharma, Vivek Shrivastava, M D Antani and Satishchandra Verma none of whom have made the allegation that they were transferred as any punishment. Satishchandra Verma has said that his transferred new position as Principal, State Reserve Police Training Centre, Junagadh cannot be called an unimportant position. Only R B Sreekumar made some allegations. But, he did not make any allegation until he was denied promotion in 2005, and his pre-2005 affidavits were full of praise for the government. The SIT has noted several such things, including this very important factor of his silence for a long time, on page 83 and said that Sreekumar’s testimony appears to be motivated.
On page 84, the SIT lists the allegation in the complaint of Zakia Jafri that people ‘collaborating with the illegal plans of CM/ BJP’ were rewarded, namely G Subba Rao, Ashok Narayan, P K Mishra, A K Bhargava, P C Pandey, Kuldeep Sharma (He happened to be their own anti-Modi man!), M K Tandon, Deepak Swaroop, K Nityanandam, Rakesh Asthana, A K Sharma, Shivananda Jha, S K Sinha and D G Vanzara. The SIT has given its investigations on all of them from page 84 to 105 and could not establish such an allegation in case of even a single individual. Thus the entire basis of the claim that the Gujarat Government ‘favoured those who collaborated with its illegal plans’ and ‘punished those who refused to toe the line’ is dismantled by the SIT report.
Rana Ayub praises Kuldeep Sharma and accuses the government of harassing him. In late 2013 and early 2014, the war against Narendra Modi launched by the Sharma brothers- Kuldeep Sharma and Pradeep Sharma became open. Here it is worth reporting the SIT’s observations on page 326: “There are material omissions and improvements in the statements made by Shri Kuldeep Sharma and Shri Pradeep Sharma…Further, Shri Kuldeep Sharma has since been charge-sheeted departmentally and has not been promoted, despite being the senior most officer in the IPS cadre of the Gujarat State. On the other hand, a number of criminal cases had been registered against Shri Pradeep Sharma and he remained in jail in 2010 for about 8 months and at present he is in judicial custody in some case since 14.02.2011. In view of these facts both Sharma brothers have an axe to grind against the State Govt. and as such their testimony is not trustworthy [in case of an allegation made by them].”
In Chapter 7, conversation with G C Raiger, former Intelligence official is described, along with a lot of irrelevant things. G C Raiger says vaguely that the Government favoured some, and harassed some. He did claim that the Government harassed Rahul Sharma, an officer for saving Muslim students in a madarsa, which Rana Ayub claims as the Gospel Truth, hiding the fact that Sharma himself denied this charge in his testimony to the SIT! No specific case is mentioned except Rahul Sharma’s which was been shown to be wrong.
On page 301 of the SIT closure report, the SIT examines the allegation against Rajendrasinh Rana, the then BJP MP from Bhavnagar. It quotes on page 301 BJP MP Rana as saying that it was he who informed Rahul Sharma, the then SP, Bhavnagar telephonically, about 400 students being trapped in a madarsa in Bhavnagar on 1st March 2002, which was surrounded by a mob, bent upon setting fire to it. Rahul Sharma then reached the spot and dispersed the mob and shifted the children to a safer place. The SIT also says that Rana produced a copy of a letter dated 10 Nov 2004 from Master Ahmed of Akwada Madarsa of Bhavnagar, in which he thanked (BJP MP) Rana for the timely action taken by Rahul Sharma, SP, at his instance, which could save the lives of innocent children. Again, this conversation of Rana Ayub with Raiger has no value, for it was supposed to be a private conversation with a supposed film-maker and not the Gospel Truth!
In Chapter 8, conversation with P C Pandey, the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner at the time of the 2002 riots is given. P C Pandey said that Muslims were also attacking Hindus even after Godhra (a true fact) but the media was showing only Muslims being attacked. Pandey also claimed that did his best to stop the violence, made no charge on the Government, and mentioned that Ehsan Jafri fired on the mob outside his house which drove the crowd crazy and made it impossible to save him. He also said that Muslims first brutally killed a Naroda Patiya (His name was Ranjit Vanzara) which led to the carnage there.
In Chapter 9, conversation with the then Director General of Police (DGP) of Gujarat, Chakravarthy is given. He said he did his best to control riots, and no one gave him orders not to act against rioters. He also said that the then Minister I K Jadeja was in his office for some time on 28 Feb 2002 and did not indulge in the slightest interference- tearing into pieces an often-repeated charge by Modi opponents. He also denied that Sanjiv Bhatt was present in the crucial 27 Feb meeting. He made no specific charge against the Government on any single case- either on the 2002 riots, or on the encounters.
In Chapter 10, conversations with Maya Kodnani are given again. This was in 2013, when Maya Kodnani had already been convicted. In her private conversation with ‘Maithili’, Maya Kodnani said: “I know I am innocent and God will help me. I was not there Maithili, I was 20 km away from that place, I was at Sola…” She also gave more details of this. But she said nothing specific against the government neither on riots, nor encounters. She said that she was not on good terms with Modi. And even if she said anything against the government on the issue of riots or encounters, it would have no value since it could have been due to personal issues. It also contains a conversation with Geeta Johri another officer which reveals absolutely nothing about Government interference either on the issue of the 2002 riots, or the encounters.
In the same chapter, she deals with the Haren Pandya case. Gives some conversations with Jagruti Pandya, wife of the late Haren Pandya which do not reveal anything important. Rana Ayub calls Pandya a ‘popular leader of Gujarat’ but conveniently hides that Pandya was an accused in a Dargah demolition in the 2002 riots. If this allegation is reported, it will be easy to see that he was killed by Islamic radicals. Even during the UPA time, the CBI (which was called a ‘Caged Parrot’ by the SC) which fabricated cases against Amit Shah, said that Pandya was killed by Islamic radicals to avenge the 2002 riots.
Rana Ayub does not make a direct allegation, but says that Pandya deposed before a Concerned Citizens Tribunal (CCT) against Modi in 2002 and then asks if the reason for his murder lies in that act. The self-appointed CCT, which had no authority to do anything, gave its report in the form of a book titled “Crime against humanity” and made many charges against the late Haren Pandya himself on his alleged anti-Muslim statements and activities and severally criticized Pandya on Vol. I page 36, page 44, page 48, Vol. II page 48, page 49, page 52, page 77, page 87.
In Chapter 11, Rana Ayub describes how she managed to reach the then CM Narendra Modi’s office with secret recording devices under the name Maithili Tyagi, and talked to him, and of course nothing relevant to the topic was talked. Ayub says that after all this, when she talked to the Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal for publication for this entire operation, he said: “Look Rana, after the Tehelka sting on Bangaru Laxman, they shut our office. Modi is all set to be the most powerful man, the PM. If we touch him, we will be finished”. This claim is not believable, since at that time Tehelka was publishing very anti-Narendra Modi articles. Both Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhary have denied any political pressure as the reason for not publishing, and claimed that the report did not meet editorial standard. Now we can see why. Even Tehelka did not find this worth publishing. Nor did any other publisher and it had to self-published.
90% of the book is absolutely irrelevant. It simply describes all that Rana Ayub did to try to get people to talk, how she took the name Maithili Tyagi, took secret cameras in her watch, and elsewhere and it is all irrelevant. What matters is the transcripts. Transcripts are a very little part of the book and do not reveal anything of much importance. The transcripts contain some vague conversations of government favouring those who follow its orders and those who don’t, which is very generalized and not specific to any case, and these conversations also don’t mean anything since they were supposed private chats made public.
This book is written in a manner as of a detective novel. The book is written with lots of opinions presented as facts. It can get irritating when the author assumes herself to be a James Bond like personality and indulges in self-praise and self-pity when she was undercover when she researched for this book. The desperation to somehow try to malign, defame and reach Narendra Modi and Amit Shah is very obvious in this book, and the attempt is not successful, since on merit nothing given in the book will stand. It becomes clear that this is an attempted political hit job to target Modi and Shah rather than a balanced, impartial verifiable account of events.
By endorsing a book like this, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has only reduced his own credibility, since it makes it seem that he will praise anything and anyone attacking Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, irrespective of the merit of the question.
To know the full truth of the Gujarat riots of 2002, read the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story”.
[Note: This was first published at https://satyavijayi.com/rana-ayyub-torn-apart-fiction-gujarat-files-hitesh-rangra2/ ]