Author of the ‘Gujarat Riots: The True Story – The Truth of the 2002 Riots’ exposes the lies of biased media reports, Sanjiv Bhatt, Prashant Bhushan and others in the Haren Pandya murder case
Haren Pandya was a former Minister in the Gujarat Government of the BJP. He resigned from the Cabinet in August 2002, was denied a ticket in the December 2002 Assembly elections and was murdered on 26 March 2003. Since then, biased sections of the media and self-styled secularists have implied that the Narendra Modi Government got him killed, or more specifically, Narendra Modi got him killed. This is of course, total trash, and also inflammatory and defamatory.
A file photo of Haren Pandya
Resurfacing of the Lie
On 4 November 2018, Firstpost reported: “A witness in the Sohrabuddin Shaikh alleged fake encounter case told a trial court in Mumbai on Saturday that Shaikh had killed former Gujarat home minister Haren Pandya. The killing had allegedly been ordered by former Gujarat IPS officer DG Vanzara, the witness further claimed. Pandya was murdered in Ahmedabad in 2003.
Deshpande MD, ‘Gujarat Riots-The True Story- The Truth of the 2002 Riots’
The witness — name not disclosed — said he met Shaikh in 2002 and became good friends with him and his wife Kausar Bi and his associate Tulsi Prajapati. “During that time, Sohrabuddin told me he had got money from DG Vanzara to kill Gujarat’s home minister Haren Pandya and he completed the job. I then told him that what he did was wrong and he had killed a good person,” the witness told the court. The witness further said that in 2005 he was arrested by Rajasthan police and lodged at Udaipur jail where he met Prajapati.”
File image of Sohrabuddin Sheikh
This is not a confession, but HERESAY. It is Y claiming that X told him (X is no more, so no way to authenticate this) that Z ordered him to kill someone. Y has given no proof that X ever told him so, and even if he did tell him so, that has no value at all, since X has to tell that to other investigators or to a judge.
But none of this matters to those who WANT to somehow blame Narendra Modi and/or Amit Shah for the killing of Haren Pandya. Negationist Prashant Bhushan, who defended the heinous brutal killers of Godhra even after their conviction by a trial court latched on to this heresay. He tweeted: “This is huge! Witness in Sohrabuddin fake encounter case tells court that Sohrabuddin was given the contract to kill Modi’s Minister Haren Pandya (who deposed against Modi on Guj Carnage) by Shah’s Hitman Vanzara! This confirms widespread public suspicion!” Thus he implied that Amit Shah and/or Modi got Pandya killed.
Outlook Report, November 12, 2007, ‘A Midnight Meeting on February 27 and a Murdered Minister’
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam also tweeted: “Vanjara ordered Sohrabuddin to kill Haren Pandya. Shah ordered Vanjara to kill Sohrabuddin. Question is who ordered Shah to kill Sohrabuddin ? A suspense thriller!” Nirupan directly alleged that Amit Shah ordered to kill Sohrabuddin ignoring his acquittal in the case completely. And also implied that Modi and/or Shah ordered Pandya’s killing. A hearsay statement by one witness with no evidence provided to even support the hearsay statement is no proof at all, which a senior lawyer like Prashant Bhushan and leader like Sanjay Nirupam know very well.
Facts of the Case
Now let us get into the merits of the Haren Pandya case and see facts. The media conveniently hid facts which would make it very obvious that he was killed by Islamic radicals. The media tried to imply that he was killed as he was an opponent of Narendra Modi. With the wife of Haren Pandya contesting the polls against the BJP in the Gujarat Assembly polls in December 2012, many were asking the reason for this.
The media conveniently hid facts which would make it very obvious that Haren Pandya was killed by Islamic radicals. The media tried to imply that he was killed as he was an opponent of Narendra ModiHaren Pandya was perhaps the only man from the BJP who may have been actually involved in the riots in 2002. Haren Pandya had allegations of demolishing a dargah near his house on 1st March 2002 in anger against Godhra, a dargah which was on the roads causing inconvenience to traffic and may have had to be demolished by Municipality anyway. The self- styled liberals were howling against Haren Pandya since March 2002. He allegedly took the leadership on the next day of burning of Godhra train, to demolish a dargah which was protruding on the main road of Bhathha (Paldi) not far away from his own house. After 2-3 months, he started the double talking against the government for not protecting the minority. The demolition he allegedly did, brought him on the top of the hit list, and therefore, he was killed. Before Pandya started speaking against Modi in 2002, he was the media’s hate figure. But he successfully saved his skin with his double talk by cleverly going against the big fish Modi so that the media could leave him and project him as a ‘hero’ fighting the big man. That is exactly what happened. This also shows that the biased section of the media will make a hero out of anyone who targets Narendra Modi without judging the case on merits.
Haren Pandya allegedly told a Concerned Citizens Tribunal (CCT) in May 2002 that in a crucial meeting on 27 Feb 2002 late night at CM’s Bungalow, Gandhinagar [the day Godhra happened] Modi told police officers to allow Hindus to riot the next day. Pandya was not present at that meeting and never claimed to be present to anyone except the CCT Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001 & had to enter the Assembly. Till then he had never fought a single election in his life from corporation to Lok Sabha. Ellisbridge seat is the safest for the BJP in the country (It was a part of Advani’s Gandhinagar seat till delimitation). Modi reportedly wanted Pandya to vacate this seat so that he could enter the Assembly but Pandya who was then Home Minister refused. So Modi had to go for Rajkot II which he won by 14,000 votes on 24 February 2002, 3 days before Godhra. Pandya was demoted from Home Minister to Revenue Minister and since then his resentment against Modi became even stronger.
So Pandya himself allegedly demolished the dargah and then cleverly shifted the blame on Modi by speaking against Modi. There was a self-appointed Concerned Citizens Tribunal headed by Retd. Supreme Court Judge, Justice Krishna Iyer, which conducted its own ‘study’ and report on the Gujarat riots and, as expected, held the government guilty. Sadly for it, it also made a fool of itself by trying to absolve Muslims of the heinous crime of Godhra by suggesting that the fire was set ‘from inside’ (as if it was an inside job!) and denying outrightly that any mob had torched the train.
Outlook relies only on the testimony of Haren Pandya, whom it did not even name at that time. But neither the tribunal nor Outlook have given any evidence that Pandya met them or told them anything of this sortHaren Pandya allegedly told a Concerned Citizens Tribunal (CCT) in May 2002 that in a crucial meeting on 27 Feb 2002 late night at CM’s Bunglow, Gandhinagar [the day Godhra happened] Modi told police officers to allow Hindus to riot the next day. Pandya was not present at that meeting and never claimed to be present to anyone except the CCT. Only Modi and 8 others officers (not a single minister) were there in this meeting, as per the SIT report.
He then resigned from Cabinet in Aug 2002 as Revenue Minister also. Then when in December 2002 elections came Modi denied Pandya a ticket. This angered Pandya horribly along with his wife and father. Sadly in March 2003 Islamic radicals murdered him for the dargah demolition for which the self-styled secularists had howled against him since March 2002 until the time he took on Modi. Note here that the CBI which got 12 Muslims convicted by the trial POTA court in 2007 worked under the Congress-led UPA at that time and it too had said that Muslims killed him to avenge the riots. This is the same CBI which has falsely charged Amit Shah for Sohrabuddin encounter case because he is Modi’s trusted aide despite knowing that Amit Shah is totally innocent in that case. Even this CBI had said that Pandya was killed by Muslims. It is absolutely impossible that such a CBI (which was called a ‘Caged Parrot’ by the SC under UPA) would wrongly accuse Muslims of killing Pandya if Modi or Amit Shah were even remotely associated with his killing. This is enough for anyone with any intellectual honesty to know that Modi and/or Amit Shah had nothing to do with Pandya’s murder and that it was done by Islamic radicals.
The late Pandya’s father and wife both may well know that he was killed for durgah demolition by Muslims but their anger is against Modi for denying Pandya a ticket for MLA which would have meant he could not become a Minister. The durgah demolition was not the only charge on Pandya. The self-appointed CCT, which had no authority to do anything and gave a horribly biased report full of lies, gave its report in November 2002 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. The SIT report gives many quotes from that report against the late Haren Pandya himself on his alleged anti-Muslim statements and activities on pages 452-456.
But to save his own skin, Pandya turned against Narendra Modi and told a totally un-authorized CCT that Modi ordered police to allow Hindus to riot the next day in the crucial 27 Feb night meeting (This is of course, totally false, and the SIT found this charge to be baseless). At that time, after allegedly deposing before the self-appointed CCT, Pandya allegedly told Outlook magazine about his deposition. Outlook reported it in its issue of 3 June 2002 and 19 August 2002.
Lies in the Outlook magazine
The weekly Outlook magazine, which is extremely anti-Narendra Modi, had also alleged that Modi told officials to allow Hindus to take revenge the next day in that crucial 27 February night meeting. It first did this in its issue dated 3 June 2002, following which Narendra Modi sent a defamation notice as reported by The Indian Express on 8 June 2002. The Outlook reported in that article:
“The minister told Outlook that in his deposition (to the CCT), he revealed that on the night of 27th February, Modi summoned DGP (i.e. Director General of Police) K. Chakravarthy, Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, P.C. Pandey, Chief Secretary, G. Subarao, Home Secretary, Ashok Narayan, Secretary to the Home Department, K. Nityanand (a serving police officer of IG rank on deputation) and DGP (IB) G.S. Raigar. Also present were officers from the CM’s office: P.K. Mishra, Anil Mukhim and A.K. Sharma. The minister also told Outlook that the meeting was held at the CM’s bungalow. (Our comment: Notice that Sanjiv Bhatt comes nowhere in the picture!!!)
The minister told the tribunal (CCT) that in the two-hour meeting, Modi made it clear there would be justice for Godhra the next day, during the VHP-called bandh. He ordered that the police should not come in the way of “the Hindu backlash”. At one point in this briefing, according to the minister’s statement to the tribunal, DGP Chakravarthy vehemently protested. But he was harshly told by Modi to shut up and obey. Commissioner Pandey, says the minister, would later show remorse in private but, at that meeting, didn’t have the guts to object…”
Now there are clear factual errors in this. The Outlook report names Chief Secretary, G. Subarao and an officer in the CM’s office, A.K. Sharma, as among those at the meeting. Neither was present in that meeting. That day, Subarao was on leave abroad [the SIT too mentioned this on page 312] and instead it was acting Chief Secretary S.K. Varma, who participated in that meeting! This single goof-up alone is enough to dismiss the claims of Outlook on that meeting, or, assuming that the late Pandya did make such allegations, his. Outlook realized its terrible goof-up and in the 19 August 2002 issue it acknowledged its error in its claimed interview with Pandya.
Questions to Answer
Let us assume that the late Minister Haren Pandya did tell Outlook that Modi told officials to allow Hindus to vent their anger the next day in that meeting. What credibility does Pandya have when he was not even present in that meeting? And when he could not even correctly tell the people who were in the meeting, wrongly naming two people as being present there, how can anyone believe that he would know what happened inside the meeting? He also said that it was a 2 hour meeting, while it lasted only 30 to 45 minutes! (SIT report said so). Outlook’s aim is also exposed here. Outlook wanted to crucify Narendra Modi by hook or by crook, and in its issue of 3 June 2002 it held Modi guilty without bothering to cross-check if the information provided by the Minister (Pandya) was correct or not. Was it not Outlook’s duty to cross-check the facts before making such a serious allegation against a Chief Minister?
In all this, Outlook relies only on the testimony of Haren Pandya, whom it did not even name at that time. But neither the tribunal nor Outlook have given any evidence that Pandya met them or told them anything of this sort. Outlook claims that it has a taped interview of Haren Pandya of August 2002. In its issue dated 19 August, 2002, Outlook reported: “Modi’s pet theory was that the man, who went to the tribunal, was his then revenue minister, Haren Pandya. He even asked his intelligence officials to get proof to nail Pandya. But the intelligence wing, Outlook learns, gave no conclusive proof to Modi. Yet, he sent Pandya a show-cause notice through the state BJP president, asking him to explain if and why and with whose permission he went to the tribunal. Pandya, in his sharp reply that unmistakably ridiculed Modi, denied he went to the tribunal.” So, neither Outlook nor the tribunal have any evidence that Pandya told them anything, and Pandya himself denied the charge! In short, there is no proof in public domain that Haren Pandya ever made any allegations on Modi on that 27 February meeting. There is no evidence in public forum of Pandya ever telling Outlook anything before August 2002, or of him deposing before the CCT.
But this writer does think that Pandya could have (and most likely did) deposed before the CCT and may have talked to Outlook for its 3rd June issue as well.
Outlook claims it has a taped interview of Haren Pandya [who it did not name at that time, but after his murder revealed as Haren Pandya indeed] which it published in its issue of August 19, 2002. In this interview of August 19, 2002 Outlook reported:
“Minister (continuing): See, whatever I told you, it was not as if some disgruntled man was saying it. I didn’t say all those things because I was unhappy. (Our comment: That exactly was the reason- that he was unhappy!). There is nobody in my position who can fight him. So, it’s important I remain an insider, in power, in position. That’s why I want my identity to be protected.
You mentioned Subarao. There was trouble with that. (The Outlook report named chief secretary G. Subarao and an officer in the CM’s office, A.K. Sharma, as among those at the meeting. Neither was present.)
Minister: What happened was that there was a chief secretary- in-charge then. I got my facts mixed up. But listen, their denial was very weak, wasn’t it? If they try to make an issue of it, tell them that you want the official denial from all the people mentioned in the story on paper, with their signatures. Leave the two they say weren’t there at the meeting but ask the others to say that there was no meeting, no direct or indirect orders. Let them say that on paper with their signatures….
Minister (continuing): I made a mistake with the chief secretary’s name. But the rest is all true. The time, the place, everything was correct. If they put pressure, ask them for official denial from the officers.
Minister (continuing): Vijay Rupani (who was supposed to organise the yatra) will give information on the (Gujarat) Gaurav Rath Yatra. But be careful when you meet these people. They are such guys that they’ll try to extract my name from you. Be careful.”
And Outlook stuck to its story even after the clear goof-up. See the role of Outlook. It admitted that it wrongly named two people as being present in the meeting. That should have been enough to dismiss this charge, when Outlook and an alleged Minister cannot even correctly tell the names of the people who were present in the meeting (Haren Pandya was, of course, not present which he admitted to Outlook). How could they know what happened in that meeting? So what Outlook said in effect was: “Though our report wrongly named two people as being present, though we could not even tell correctly who were present, our charge that Modi ordered the police to allow Hindus to vent their anger is 100% true”. A magazine with an iota of honesty would have said: “We relied on a man whose information was incorrect and who had personal grudges. We withdraw our story”.
But that’s not all! Even in its 19 August 2002 issue, there are blunders. Haren Pandya says (as claimed by Outlook) “I made a mistake with the chief secretary’s name. But the rest is all true.”
Contradictions and the Truth
But the rest is also not all true. Not only was the chief secretary not there (he was on leave abroad and it was the acting chief secretary S.K. Varma who participated), another officer, A.K. Sharma was also not present. This was admitted by Outlook, not by the Minister! And sadly for Outlook, there was a THIRD BLUNDER in this allegation even in the 19 August issue, which is that DGP (IB) G.C. Raigar was also not present in this meeting! Neither Outlook nor Pandya knew this. So even in the 19th August issue, when they admitted mistakes in the 3 June 2002 issue, they stuck to their story saying ‘rest all information is correct’, but the information in the 19th August 2002 was also wrong since G.C. Raigar was also wrongly named as being present. Outlook said: “2 people were wrongly named: Chief Secretary, G. Subarao and A.K. Sharma”. But the fact is that THREE people were wrongly named, G.C. Raigar also was not present! And the magazine continues to hold Modi guilty in that 27 February meeting, ignoring all its mistakes. Also note that it also mentioned the name wrongly- his name is G.C.Raiger, not G.S.Raiger!
Also, note that the names mentioned by Outlook, of the people being present at the meeting do not include Sanjiv Bhatt at all! Notice how even a magazine like Outlook, which forcibly tried to hold Modi guilty in that 27 February meeting, has never even mentioned Sanjiv Bhatt till 2002.
In its issue dated 12 November 2007, when 12 Muslims had already been convicted for Haren Pandya’s murder in June 2007, Outlook again tried to imply that Narendra Modi got Pandya killed. Outlook reported: A Midnight Meeting On Feb 27 And A Murdered Minister
Haren Pandya knew he’d be killed if Outlook said it was he who told us of Modi’s instigation of the ’02 riots. “Haren Pandya knew he’d be killed if Outlook said it was he who told us of Modi’s instigation of the ’02 riots. He was killed anyway. In May 2002, less than three months after the Gujarat riots, Haren Pandya, then revenue minister in the Narendra Modi government, made a startling revelation to Outlook. He told the magazine (Jun 3, 2002) that on the night of February 27, Narendra Modi held a meeting at his official bungalow in which he specifically instructed bureaucrats and senior police officers, including Ahmedabad police commissioner P.C. Pande, to allow “people to vent their frustration and not come in the way of the Hindu backlash”…
…At that point, Outlook had chosen not to reveal Pandya’s identity since he had spoken to us in strict confidence—it’s only now that we go public about it. Despite this, many in the Gujarat government suspected him to be the “minister” quoted in our report. Pandya felt that under the circumstances it would be best if he resigned from the government. This he did on August 6, 2002. Seven months later, on March 26, 2003, he was mysteriously murdered.
The case is still under investigation.
Before he quit as minister, Pandya had spoken again to Outlook (Aug 19, 2002). This time we recorded the conversation (the tape of which is with the magazine). The former revenue minister implored us not to reveal his identity under any circumstance since he feared the worst. “Don’t disclose my identity even verbally,” he had said. “My name should not be quoted in any story, not even as minister or BJP leader. If you write BJP leader, I will die. If you write minister, even then I will die.”
Haren Pandya was not a fool to put his life at the mercy of traitorous and lying magazines like Outlook. He may have made such a claim to Outlook, but he was not truthful while making it. Outlook cleverly hid the fact that Pandya was accused of demolishing a dargah, and making anti-Muslim statements and activities, details of which would convince anyone that radical Islamists killed him for revenge and only highlighted his anti-Modi statements so that Modi could be blamed for his killing!
For further knowing the lies of Haren Pandya, Outlook and the CCT let us note the following. The SIT report on page 452 quotes Pandya as saying to the CCT that he was present in that 27 Feb 2002 night meeting and that the then MoS for Home i.e. Gordhan Zadaphiya was also present in that 27 Feb meeting. The SIT then says on page 453 that there is conclusive evidence to prove that Zadaphiya was in Godhra on 27 February and returned on 28 Feb morning, meaning that there was no way Zadaphiya could have attended the 27 Feb night meeting in Gandhinagar, as he was in Godhra. Thus the alleged claim by Pandya that Zadaphiya was present in the 27 Feb meeting is proved false.
Besides, we have seen that Pandya could not even correctly name the people present in the meeting, wrongly naming people who were abroad on leave as being present in that meeting, so the question of his being present is ruled out. The SIT says on page 56 of its report that Haren Pandya’s call records also show that he was present in Ahmedabad till 22:52 hours on 27 Feb 2002, so there is no question of him attending the meeting in Gandhinagar from 10:30 PM to 11:00 PM, more than 25 kms away. The SIT report also says on page 458 that it appears that the late Haren Pandya had misled the Hon’ble members of the CCT namely, Justice P B Sawant and Justice Hosbet Suresh that he was present in that meeting with a view to increasing his credibility. Most importantly, the SIT says on page 452 that Pandya’s deposition had not been recorded anywhere by the Tribunal (Vindicating what we had said in Myth 19, that CCT has given no proof of Pandya’s deposition to it). Pandya, thus, made two different claims to Outlook and CCT (assuming what they say on his testimony is right):
To the CCT, Pandya claimed he himself was present in the 27 Feb late night meeting and so was the then MoS Gordhan Zadafiya. To Outlook, Pandya admitted that he himself was not present in the 27 Feb meeting nor was Zadafiya, but he gave a list of people present which was not correct and contained mistakes
These contradictions conclusively prove that all claims of Haren Pandya that 27 Feb meeting are false and unreliable. Besides, his calls records conclusively prove that he was not present in that meeting so any claim made by him about that meeting has absolutely no value. This also exposes the biased section of the media- that it will make a hero out of anyone targeting Narendra Modi, ignoring the merits of the case completely, and will forget all charges on that person targeting the big fish Narendra Modi. It will leave no stone unturned to somehow blame Narendra Modi for any act, even if the courts have convicted others for it.
A full expose of the biased section of the media, Outlook magazine, Sanjiv Bhat, Haren Pandya on these charges is done by us comprehensively in Chapter 7, Myth 19 and Chapter 12 of out book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story”