New Delhi: 'The Sarkari Mussalman' by Lt. General Zameer Uddin Shah (retd) has been a subject to much controversy over its portions relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Shah, who led the Army in quelling the riots, has said in his memoir that after about 3,000 troops landed at Ahmedabad airfield by 7 am on March 1, they had to wait for over a day to receive transport and other logistical support from the state government in order to fan out to the cities and towns which were engulfed in violence.
This delay, according to him, happened despite a request by the Lt. General to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi at 2 am on March 1 in Ahmedabad, in the presence of Union Defence Minister George Fernandes.
The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigative Team (SIT) report, that had cleared Modi's name, had concluded that there was no delay "in requisition and deployment of the Army", based on testimony of Ashok Narayan, Additional Chief Secretary (Home).
General S Padmanabhan, the then Chief of Army Staff, speaking to IANS earlier, had backed the assertions of Shah. Shah says he "could not be surer" about the events leading to the deployment of Army in Gujarat as he had mentioned every detail in the After Action Report on Operation Aman.
The SIT never called the Lt General for questioning. It looks apparent from its report that the SIT did not look at Shah's After Action Report submitted to Gen Padmanabhan, which was subsequently forwarded to the central government.
According to Shah, the Army put an end to the mayhem during the 2002 Gujarat riots within 48 hours (March 4) by "resolute, firm and fair action", but he holds the 'bias' and 'politicisation' of the police responsible for the uncontrolled violence.
The SIT was headed by former CBI Director RK Raghavan (today Ambassador to Cyprus). When contacted by IANS on the phone, Raghavan said that he is "not prepared to talk".
Questions sent to him and his attache at the Indian High Commission in Nicosia seeking his views on whether the Army or it's After Action Report was considered before reaching to the conclusion that there was "no delay in requisition and deployment of the Army" have not been answered so far.