| Patel undergoing treatment at an Ahmedabad hospital. (PTI)
New Delhi, Dec. 3: The leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Gujarat, Jaideep Patel, who was today shot at and was reported to be in a serious condition, was named in several complaints and at least once in a first information report by police for having led a mob in one of the worst massacres during the pogrom that followed the Godhra burnings.
Patel was at that time the joint general secretary of the VHP in Gujarat. Like his senior, the VHP International division chief, Praveen Togadia, a medical practitioner.
Patel is a member of the VHP’s core leadership, second only to Togadia in Gujarat, where the organisation is tightly structured and far-flung. He has always had direct access to the entire BJP leadership, including Narendra Modi, many of whom were his Sangh co-workers.
Patel and BJP MLA Maya Kodnani were named in an FIR filed in the Naroda police station in Ahmedabad (no.193/2002) for having led mobs that plundered Naroda-Patia, where around 90 men, women and children were killed, raped, looted and butchered.
The FIR was filed in the wake of the nationwide shock over the pogrom in mid-March but the Ahmedabad police commissioner later denied that they had been named.
Patel himself always claimed that he was being framed but has always justified the “turant jawabi karvai (quick punitive action)” unleashed by the Hindutva cadre after the February 27 Godhra carnage.
Indeed, on the evening of February 27, Patel was in Godhra, along with other senior VHP leaders and the state home minister Gordhan Zadaphia. Chief minister Narendra Modi, too, had visited Godhra earlier.
Patel was among those who were insistent that the BJP support the bandh called by the VHP on February 28. Eventually, the BJP supported the bandh and that day saw some of the bloodiest communal pillaging.
Residents of Naroda-Patia complained in writing to the police and eyewitnesses told journalists later at the refugee camp in Shah-e-Alam that they had seen Patel leading mobs.
One eyewitness, Nasir Khan Rahim Khan Pathan, principal of the Sunflower School, Noorani Masjid, Naroda-Patia, named Patel.
Another, Mansuri Yusuf, an employee of Ahmedabad Transport, had claimed: “I saw Jaideep Patel with a revolver, inciting crowds. He said ‘finish all the Muslims’. There were two Ahmedabad municipal corporators with him and a local criminal.”
Three others, Jamaluddin Abdulbhai Quereshi, Pathan Naseerkhan Jafferkhan and Yassin Anwarkhan in complaints recorded at the Shah-e-Alam camp (nos. 812, 832 and 845) also named Patel as a leader of the mob in Naroda-Patia.
Against this background, it was no surprise that the state intelligence had said Patel was among other VHP leaders at risk. But Patel had himself said: “We are ready to fight anything coming our way and require no police protection.”
However, his lawyer claimed in Ahmedabad today that that they had indeed sought the police protection but none was forthcoming.