A book by a well-known investigative journalist has claimed that a top Gujarat bureaucrat had told her during a sting operation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chief minister, had made the “decision” of bringing 58 dead bodies, charred to death in the S-6 Sabarmati Express coach, from Godhra to Ahmedabad on February 27, 2002, triggering the riots in which at least 1,000 people died.
Pointing out that this gave the immediate reason for the riots to spread, the bureaucrat told journalist Rana Ayyub, who posed as Maithili Tyagi from the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory in Los Angeles for the sting: “See, bringing the bodies to Ahmedabad flared up the whole thing but he was the one who took the decision”.
The sensational revelation has been made in “Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover-Up”, already being described as “a racy memoir of reporting undercover in Modi’s Gujarat.” Former editor of the periodical “Tehelka”, Ayyub is currently an independent investigative journalist.
Ayyub reveals, through twitter, that “very few editors in this country can deny that they refused to publish the transcripts, citing political pressure”, adding, ‘Gujarat Files’ has been “self-published by me after topmost publishers eased out citing political pressure.”
The book, to be officially released in Delhi on May 27, is available on Kindle, and can be ordered from Amazon and Flipkart.
Calling it “one of d biggest exposes on the Modi-Amit Shah dispensation”, Ayyub denies her book has Congress support. “All those calling ‘Gujarat Files’ a Congress book, please read and find out how the book has faced censorship since 2012 ( UPA regime).”
The bureaucrat, a former home secretary, told Ayyub that Modi was meticulous enough not to ask anyone to “go slow” on controlling 2002 riots. “He would never do that. He would also never write anything on paper. He had his people and through them the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and then through them trickle down through informal channels to the lower-rung police inspectors”, the bureaucrat has been quoted as saying.
Referring to the controversial meeting on February 27, 2002 evening, where Modi reportedly asked officials to “go slow”, the bureaucrat told the sting, “He would not say that in the meeting. He would say that to his men. He would convey to the VHP and then to officers.”
Narrating what made her resort to sting, Ayyub says, before she chose the new role, she, with the “able help from human rights activists and officers” made “one of the most sensational exposés of the year: The call records of the then Minister of State for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, and top officers during the course of encounters” in Gujarat.
“The exposé created ripples in the political fraternity”, says Ayyub, adding, “Within weeks of the exposé, the CBI arrested Amit Shah, the first serving Home Minister in the history of independent India to be arrested. It became an overnight sensation.”
Pointing out how this changed her life, too, Ayyub says, while she stayed in a reasonably good hotel in a Muslim-dominated area till then, a few days after the exposé, her phone received a text from an unknown number which read, “We know where you are”.
This led her to change her accommodation “every third day, from the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) campus in Ahmedabad to guesthouses, hostels, and gymkhanas”, Ayyub notes, adding, “I had begun to operate like a fugitive.”
At this point, Ayyub says, she also decided to bring out the truth behind the riots and fake encounters to political assassinations, many an inconvenient truth was waiting to come out, and to prove this, she made the decision that changed her life, professionally and personally.
To make sting operations, she says, “Rana Ayyub had to give way to Maithili Tyagi, a Kayastha girl from Kanpur, a student of the American Film Institute Conservatory who had returned to make a film on the development model of Gujarat and Narendra Modi’s rising popularity among NRIs across the world.”