Ahmedabad, July 17: A resident of former home minister Haren Pandya’s Ellisbridge constituency today told the Nanavati Commission the assassinated BJP leader was part of the mob that attacked his home on February 28 during the Gujarat riots last year.
Dr Yunus Bhavnagari, a dentist, told the two-member panel probing the post-Godhra flare-up, that the former minister’s presence “instigated the mob” that set ablaze his flat in Delite Apartments in Paldi while his son was shot at. The mob, he said, gatecrashed and torched 19 vehicles.
Bhavnagari, who moved out of his upmarket apartment as he feared for his life, also told Justice J.T. Nanavati and Justice K.G. Shah there were some policemen in the crowd. A senior police officer, whom he did not name, even threatened him that he would be burnt alive, Bhavnagari alleged. The family is yet to return to their flat.
He said for three-and-a-half hours he tried to contact the police but they turned up only after 5.30 pm. It was only after deputy commissioner of police (Zone 1) V.M. Pargi arrived that the mob thinned. But, by then, the damage had been done.
Bhavnagari said that after his son was shot in the chest, he was “forced to open fire in self-defence” from his licensed revolver, causing the death of two persons and injuring three. Bhavnagari and his son, Amir, had to spend three months in jail “despite the fact that the FIR clearly mentions he had opened fire in self-defence”.
The doctor, who handed a copy of the representation he had submitted to the National Human Rights Commission describing the circumstances that forced him to open fire, said he had some guests from the US that day and one died of shock.
His wife, Tasneem, also deposed before the commission. They were to depose on Wednesday, but no one from Ellisbridge police station turned up. Twenty-six witnesses from Vejalpur deposed today.
Government advocate Nigam Shukla and Shailesh Pandya, who represented the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, said they would cross-examine Bhavnagari tomorrow. According to them, Bhavnagari’s statement has no significance as he is making allegations against a person who cannot defend himself. Pandya was assassinated on March 26 this year while returning from his routine morning walk.
The doctor’s deposition — that Pandya was in the mob that attacked Delite Apartment and set ablaze shops belonging to the minority community — also lends credence to the BJP’s view that Pandya’s assassination was carried out to avenge the riots.