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HomePolitical History of IndiaThe defamatory lies and the truths surrounding Haren Pandya's murder

The defamatory lies and the truths surrounding Haren Pandya’s murder

Pandya was accused of demolishing a dargah near his house as well as raising inflammatory slogans during the communal riots that took place in Gujarat in February-March 2002 in the aftermath of Godhra carnage where almost 60 pilgrims returning from Ayodhya were burnt alive inside the train.

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.

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.

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.”

This is not a confession, but hearsay. It is Y claiming that X told him (X is no more, and died as many as 13 years ago, so no way to authenticate this) that Z ordered him i.e. X to kill someone. Y has given no proof that X ever told him so, and even if X did tell him so, that has no value at all, since X has to tell that to other investigators or to a judge. And Y made this claim 13 years after the death of X for the first time, not once for at least 13 years. Sohrabuddin Sheikh died on 26 November 2005.

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 hearsay. Bhushan tweeted the link claiming how the said ‘confession’ confirms the public suspicion.

Thus he implied that Amit Shah and/or Modi got Pandya killed. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam also tweeted accusing Shah of ordering Pandya’s killing.

Nirupan directly accused Amit Shah of ordering 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 [who was also arrested by Police in 2005] 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.

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 radical Islamists. 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 her doing so.

Haren Pandya was perhaps the only man from the BJP who may have been actually involved in the riots in 2002 [Maya Kodnani was innocent, and was correctly acquitted by the High Court after being wrongly convicted by the trial court of Jyotsna Yagnik]. Haren Pandya was accused 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 the municipal corporation anyway. The self-styled liberals were howling against Haren Pandya since March 2002.

However, after 2-3 months, he changed his stand and started speaking against the government for not protecting the minority. The demolition of the dargah allegedly carried out by him 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.

However, after the differences between him and Modi cropped up when Pandya refused to vacate his Ellis Bridge constituency seat for Modi, he became media’s favourite. He was soon hailed as a hero who was taking on the big man. 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.

Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001 and had to enter the Assembly. Till then he had never fought a single election in his life from a corporation to the Lok Sabha. Ellis Bridge seat is considered one of 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 of Ellisbridge so that he i.e. Modi 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 carnage. Pandya was demoted from Home Minister to Revenue Minister and since then his resentment against Modi became even stronger.

It is believed that 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.

Haren Pandya allegedly told that 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 even 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.

Sadly the CCT also made a fool of itself by trying to absolve the perpetrators of the heinous crime of Godhra carnage by suggesting that the fire was set ‘from inside’ (implying it was an inside job!) and denying out-rightly that any mob had torched the train.

Pandya then resigned from the 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 Islamist radicals murdered him for what is believed to be to avenge the for the dargah demolition for which the self-styled secularists had howled against him since March 2002 until the time he took on Modi.

The late Pandya’s father [who passed away in 2011] and wife both may well know that he was most probably killed for dargah demolition by Islamist radicals but their anger was perhaps against Modi for denying Pandya a ticket for MLA which would have meant he could not become a minister. The dargah 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, published 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 severely 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 unauthorized 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.

The weekly Outlook magazine 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.

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…”

Notice how in the Outlook report, Sanjiv Bhatt is nowhere in the picture? 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 were present in that meeting. That day, Subarao was on leave abroad [the SIT too mentioned this on page 312 of its report]  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.

Now 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 name 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 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 relied 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 [whom it did not name at that time, but after his murder revealed as Haren Pandya indeed] which it published in its issue of 19 August 2002. In this interview  of 19th  August 2002 Outlook reported (emphasis added):

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. 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 and 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 perhaps admitted that they had relied on a man whose information was incorrect and who had personal grudges and withdrawn the story.

But that’s not what happened. 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.”

But the rest is also not all true. Not only was the chief secretary not there (he was on leave abroad), 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 19th 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 in 2002.

In its issue dated 12 November 2007, when 12 perpetrators 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:

“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.

[Note: Outlook did write it as ‘Minister’!]”

Haren Pandya 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 would have wanted to kill 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 it. 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 incorrect.

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 for Home 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 on that 27 Feb meeting are 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 our book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story”.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Author of the book “Gujarat Riots: The True Story” which gives all the details about the 2002 Gujarat riots - Godhra and thereafter.

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