And that intervention came through the fall of BJP led Coalition Government in the 2004 Lok Sabha election and a vital piece of evidence in the form of mobile telephone records originally secured by a valiant Police officer, Rahul Sharma, much to the chagrin of his superior officers . The defeat prompted Modi to widen the ambit of Nanavati Commission, appointed earlier by his Govt. to inquire into the 2002 Carnage, so as to inquire into the role and conduct of the chief Minster, or any other Minster, Police officers & other organizations in the Godhra/Post godhra riots. It was a bid to pre-empt the Manmohan Singh Govt. from instituting a parallel enquiry on aspects not already covered by the terms of reference of the commission.
Nanawati Commission now strengthened with wider terms of reference ,summoned Rahul Sharma to depose before it. In an appearance on 30th October 2004,he informed the commission about the existence of call data records and produced a CD of the same before it. Thus came to light what has proved to be by far the most revealing and irrefutable evidence about the Gujrat carnage.
While things moved slowly with Nanavati Commission, Sharma had the opportunity to present the same records to UC Banerjee committee, appointed by UPA Govt. to probe into railway safety lapses in Godhra incident under the Indian Railway Act. The Banerjee Committee in turn gave a copy of this CD to advocate Mukul Sinha who had asked for it on behalf of his NGO Client called Jan Sangharsh Manch. Once the evidence came in public domain-it lent credence to eyewitness accounts that Kodnani, a BJP MLA from Naroda at that time, led the rampaging Hindu mobs, armed them with swords with an exhortation to kill Muslims.
In the Supreme Court, the discovery of new evidence gave a fresh lease of life to the whole case of Gujrat carnage. Ably supported by the wise counsel of Amicus Curaie, Haresh Salve, the apex court finally constituted a Special investigation team (SIT) in March 2008 to look at the case de-novo. And given the circumstances in which it had been appointed, SIT had no other option than to take cognizance of Rahul Sharma’s CD .
Thus it was almost seven years after the carnage that Kodnani found herself implicated in the Naroda patiya & Naroda Gaam Case. By that time Kodnani had become a Minster in Modi’s cabinet. Once her guilt was established, the SIT, instead of arresting her straightaway, indulged in dillydallying tactics giving her ample time to obtain an anticipatory bail from a session court. The arrests finally took place on 27th March 2009, when Gujrat High Court cancelled the anticipatory bail and Kodnani resigned from the cabinet on the same date. After being tried for three years, the court pronounced her guilty on 31st August 2012 for orchestrating the massacre of 95 Muslims calling her as kingpin of the Naroda Patiya/Gaam case and sentenced her to 28 years in prison.
The story does not end here. Rahul Sharma instead of being applauded & awarded for his heroic work was harassed & hounded by Modi Govt. In 2011, his Govt. initiated disciplinary action against him with four charges of collecting call data record without authorization, storing data in his personal computer without authorization, not informing the original investigating officer about the copies of data in his possession and finally for submitting the data to Nanavati Commission without prior approval of higher authorities.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant-Email:firstname.lastname@example.org)