Sept. 3: The ghost of fake encounters, one of the worst-kept secrets in the country, has leaped from Sabarmati jail and confronted Narendra Modi in the shape of an IPS officer once prized by the chief minister.
D.G. Vanzara, a suspended DIG who is behind bars in connection with a string of alleged fake encounters in Gujarat, resigned from the IPS after dubbing Modi a fallen god who was under the “evil influence” of the BJP leader’s lieutenant Amit Shah.
In a 10-page letter addressed to Gujarat’s additional chief secretary, Vanzara said he felt “ditched and disowned”. He accused “the government” of colluding to keep “in jail” officers charged with involvement in fake encounters “to save its own skin” and gain “political benefits”.
The officer defended the anti-terror policy of the state but asserted that the “field officers have simply implemented the conscious policy of this government which was inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from the very close quarters”.
The letter does not level any direct charge at Modi, though his government comes under withering attack for betraying police officers.
Vanzara reserves most of the flak for Amit Shah, the then minister of state for home in Gujarat. Out on bail, Shah has been rehabilitated in the BJP as its minder in Uttar Pradesh by Modi after the Gujarat chief minister’s national ambitions took wings.
But the letter is littered with innuendoes and one-liners that can prove embarrassing for Modi as he prepares to be anointed the BJP’s candidate for Prime Minister. The letter credits the survival of the famed “Gujarat Model” to the exploits of officers like Vanzara.
The substance of Vanzara’s letter was that the government and the police officers were in the “same boat and have to swim or sink together”.
Some sources in Gujarat suggested that the letter could be a shot across the bows and, if unheeded, Vanzara could be a potential witness who can wreck many a political career. So far, little evidence could be furnished against Modi in courts, although his detractors hold him responsible for the riots of 2002.
The letter could have unsettling implications for the internal security apparatus that relies on an undeclared code of silence among officers and the elected leadership for carrying out extra-constitutional “operations”.
Vanzara, who has been in jail for the past six years and is facing trial in four encounter cases, gave up his post-retirement benefits in protest.
Once considered Shah’s right-hand man, Vanzara alleged that Shah’s “wilful acts” were “so nauseating” that they might spell the death of the Gujarat government “sooner or later”.
The officer directly blamed Shah, an MLA from Ahmedabad, for his plight, and said that “just to facilitate (his) personal interest of fighting Assembly elections, he got the trial transferred to Mumbai”, but didn’t explain.
There was no official reaction from Gandhinagar or the national BJP.
‘THE GUJARAT MODEL’
Excerpts from the resignation letter D.G. Vanzara, suspended DIG, sent from Sabarmati prison in Ahmedabad. Words and sentences marked in bold appear so in the letter
l With the passage of time, I realized that this government was not only not interested in protecting us but it also has been clandestinely making all efforts to keep me and my officers in the jail so as to save its own skin from CBI on one hand and gain political
benefits on the other
lI, therefore, would like tocategorically state... that the
officers and men of Crime Branch, ATS and Border Range, during 2002-07, simply acted and performed the duties in compliance of the conscious policy of this
(After the post-Godhra riots) terrorism began to spread like a forest fire in all directions of the state.... Everywhere the police was clueless.... Gujarat was virtually on the path of becoming another Kashmir. It was in this context that “the pro-
active policy of zero
tolerance for terrorism” was adopted by the government of Gujarat at the highest level of its hierarchy
But for the
sacrifices made by me and my officers in thwarting the onslaught of initial disorder in the state, the “Gujarat Model of Development”, which this government is so assiduously showcasing at the national level would not have
lWe, being field officers, have simply
implemented the conscious policy of this government which was
inspiring, guiding and monitoring our actions from the very close quarters
It would not be out of
context to remind him (Narendra Modi) that he,
in the hurry of marching
towards Delhi, may kindly not forget to repay the debt which he owes to jailed police officers who endowed him with the halo of Brave Chief Minister among the galaxy of other Chief Ministers who do not bear the same adjective before their names
lI have been maintaining my graceful silence for such a long period only and only because of my supreme faith in and highest respect for Shri Narendrabhai Modi, whom I used to adore like a God. But, I am sorry to state that my God could not rise to the occasion under the evil influence of Shri Amitbhai Shah (then minister of state for home and now the BJP’s minder in UP) who usurped his eyes and ears and has been successfully misguiding him by converting goats into dogs and dogs into goats since last 12 years