Tuesday, 15 November 2011

I was not quiet for 7 years, says Sanjeev Bhatt

From TwoCircles

I was not quiet for 7 years; the only opportunity afforded to me to bring out the truth of 2002 was in 2009, says Sanjeev Bhatt while talking about his silence since 2002 over anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat.
By Sayema Sahar for TwoCircles.net,
Starting with the oft repeated question to you, and yet majority do not seem to be convinced about the reason that you give for your silence of 7 years?
In order to truly understand and appreciate the constraining reasons for my so-called silence till 2009, one needs to appreciate the implications of being a senior officer in the Intelligence Bureau. As a senior officer-in-charge of the Internal Security of a Border State like Gujarat one is bound by certain professional codes. Intelligence is a very specialized branch of the Police. All officers of the Intelligence Bureau are bound by an oath of secrecy that forbids them from disclosing any information that they have been privy to by virtue of their being such Intelligence Officers. The only exception to this proscription is when the officer is under a binding legal obligation to disclose such information. It was only in 2009 that I was first summoned by the Supreme Court appointed SIT. That was the very first opportunity afforded to me for bringing out the truth of the Gujarat Carnage of 2002. Many people have questioned my silence from 2002 to 2009. All I have to say to them is that I was privy to the information pertaining to the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 as an officer of the Intelligence Bureau and hence could not have officially divulged the information otherwise than under a binding legal obligation. Despite having been cited as a witness in the complaint of Mrs. Zakia Jafri in 2006, it was only in 2009 that I was called upon to depose by the Supreme Court appointed SIT. I came out with all the relevant and germane facts at the very first opportunity. It has been a very patient wait for me and not an easy one at that. The patience of the law enforcer has always got to be greater than that of the law breaker. The patience of the hunter is always greater than that of the prey. It is not the kind of patience as in waiting passively. It is the kind of patience that requires you to hold on and keep going at your objective in spite of all the odds being loaded against you. It is the kind of patience that requires you to hold on to the truth and everything connected with it, even when the simple act of bringing out the truth is seen as nothing short of hara-kiri. This kind of patience is not easy but it is definitely very rewarding and satisfying. Let me tell you that the wait has not been an easy one. People have questioned and will continue questioning my timing and my motives. I will not be surprised if ulterior motives are attributed to my actions. Be that as it may, ultimately our only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to ourselves. I have been true to myself and my calling. Nothing else really matters.

A poster in support of Sanjeev Bhatt
A section of society holds you as much responsible for the carnage as the Modi Government …how do you react to this? We see some of the clerics of that section of society, which suffered during the carnage, standing with Modi against you. Don’t you feel betrayed as your fight for justice is essentially for them?
People are entitled to their own opinions. People, by and large, are gullible and fall prey to the systematic misinformation campaign and Goebbelesian propaganda of the modern day fascists in our country. I am very clear in my mind and in my conscience about what I have done, what I am doing and what I will be required to do in the days to come. In 2002, as an officer with the Intelligence Bureau, my primary role was to collect and share intelligence with the concerned authorities; as also to create, maintain and share reports with different agencies as per the mandate of the Bureau. I can say with all humility at my command that the Intelligence Bureau discharged its duty with a very high degree of professionalism and efficiency during the Gujarat Carnage of 2002.
As for feeling betrayed by any section of Society is concerned, I feel that the very question is grossly misconceived, as I was only doing my duty then, as I am doing my duty now. My stand was, is and shall always be in accordance with my duties and obligations as an officer of the Indian Police Service. This is not about any particular section of our society. This is not about Modi. This is not about me. It is about the role of the State under the scheme of the Constitution of India. This is about upholding the rule of law in a constitutional democracy that takes pride in its ethnic and communal diversity.
You say that you religiously kept reporting about the Government’s complicity in the carnage but the popular belief is that you kept quiet for 7 years and you spoke only after your tiff with the Modi Government? Are you trying to settle some personal scores with the government?
I have never had any personal tiff with the Modi Government. I am an IPS officer belonging to an All India Service and I serve during the pleasure of the President of this Country. At present, my services have been placed at the disposal of the State Government of Gujarat. Strictly speaking, as per the scheme of our Constitution, I do not have a servant-master relationship with the State Government of Gujarat.Narendra Modi or his Government do not mean anything to me personally. As I have said earlier, to my mind, Narendra Modi is nothing more than a Chief Minister who happened to preside over and orchestrated the Gujarat Carnage of 2002. That he still continues to be the Chief Minister and also brazenly continues to oversee and coordinate the on-going cover-up operations aimed at subverting the criminal justice system in Gujarat is purely incidental. I do not have any personal score to settle with him. My stand vis-a visNarendraModi is nothing beyond the stand between an Indian Police Service officer and a person accused of heinous crimes.
People are talking about the timing of your “rise” against the Modi Government now when the election in the state is round the corner? Majority is seeing you as a proxy for the anti Modi lobby?
In a democracy, people are entitled to their opinions. However, I firmly believe that Truth does not depend on the strength of numbers. Truth can stand on its own. Even if it has to stand alone, Truth will continue to be the Truth. Fortunately the people of Gujarat know the Truth and are no longer prepared to be mesmerized and misled by theGoebbelesian propaganda of Modi and his likes.
There are eyebrows raised on your hobnobbing with Congress leaders, asking favors from them (bb for ex). How do you justify that?
I have been brought up in Gujarat and have served for more than 23 years in the IPS cadre of Gujarat. Having done three stints in the Intelligence Bureau, I have contacts with all political parties in Gujarat. From time to time, as an officer with the Intelligence Bureau, I have run sources in all political parties as I have run sources in the underworld as well as banned outfits like SIMI etc. I have never sought any favour from any Political Party till date. The Blackberry in question was temporarily loaned to me by Shakti sinh Gohil, the Leader of Opposition of the Legislative Assembly in Gujarat, as all his phone lines were being tapped by the agencies of the Government of Gujarat and he wanted to temporarily establish a relatively safe communication link with me. I am aware that even my phones are being tapped, but as an officer of the Indian Police Service I really do not care as to who is listening to my conversations. But I have to respect the need for confidentiality of the person at the other end, and therefore, at times, howsoever unwillingly, I am required to take certain precautions. That is the current state of Democracy in Gujarat!

The Government now plans to reopen all the pending cases against you … does that worry you at all?
This is a very vindictive administrative setup headed by a very vindictive and desperate man. Such actions are expected. It would surprise me if they acted any different. Having said that, I would like to add that I am not at all worried about reopening of cases because I have done no wrong and I have absolute faith in the Judiciary of this country.
I read somewhere that you have written some 14 letters so far asking the authorities to beef up your security… do you see anything happening at all in this regard? Have you ever received any threat call?
The gravest threat to me and my family members emanates from NarendraModi and his cohorts. It is quite paradoxical that I have to petition the same State Government of which he happens to be the Chief Executive, as of now!
Would you please share your experience of Sabarmati Jail as an inmate with us? How did it feel to be an inmate where you were posted as a superintendent once?
I see the period of incarceration as a sabbatical. Nothing can touch my mind or spirit unless I want it to. I was absolutely relaxed and felt at home.
How is the family coping with the day to day pressure sir?
I am blessed with a wonderful wife and two delightful kids. My entire family and all my friends are with us. We are fortunate to have a very powerful support system and more importantly all my family members and friends share the same set of values and ideals.
What is your message to the people who criticize you?
All I can tell them is to always remember one thing about democracy…We can have anything we want… but at the same time…We always end up with exactly what we deserve.
The famous quote attributed topastor Martin Niem√∂ller, about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the selective purgatory targeting of group after group, comes to my mind…
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -- Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.

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