Ahmedabad: Nearly two months after Ahmedabad Court convicted 31 people in the Godhra carnage, another controversy has come to haunt Narendra Modi when a senior IPS officer filed an affidavit on Friday alleging that the Gujarat CM had allowed Hindus to "vent their anger" during the 2002 clashes.

"In his affidavit in the Supreme Court, IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt has said that the Chief Minister in a meeting held on February 27, 2002 expressed the view that Hindus be allowed to vent out their anger," sources close to him said referring to the affidavit in the Zakia Jaffery case.

"I filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court on April 14. This is regarding the investigation being done by the Special Investigation Team (SIT)," Bhatt said, but declined to divulge its contents.

The officer, who was posted as DCP at the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) during the 2002 riots, said in the affidavit that he had attended the February 27 meeting called by Modi where he asked officers to be "indifferent" to the rioters.

Bhatt, a 1988-batch IPS officer, is presently posted as principal of the State Reserve Police (SRP) training centre in Junagadh district.

In his testimony before the SIT, Modi, however, said Bhatt being a junior officer at that time was not present in the February 27 meeting where the Chief Minister had allegedly asked the police officers to go soft on the rioters.

The officer also expressed surprise over how his affidavit, which is likely to be taken up by the Supreme Court on April 27 along with other matters relating to the 2002 communal riots, got leaked to the media.

Bhatt has directly filed the affidavit in the Supreme Court, by-passing the Apex Court-appointed SIT to investigate the complaint of Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Ahsan Jaffery, who was burnt alive by a rioting mob at his house.

He was extensively questioned by the SIT headed by former CBI chief R K Raghavan for three days in March this year.

Gujarat government spokesman Jainarayan Vyas described the affidavit as a view that has been expressed. But, it can only be said "either correct or wrong" once it passes through the entire process of adjudication, he said.

Responding to a question as to why he swore it directly in the Supreme Court, Bhatt said, "The reason for my filing the affidavit is listed in it.”

The Supreme Court had in early March asked SIT to submit its report by April 25 on whether any further probe was required against Modi and 62 others in connection with the complaint filed by Zakia Jaffery, whose husband was among 69 killed in the Gulburg society riots.

Best Bakery case witness was forced to lie

Meanwhile, a key prosecution witness of 2002 Best Bakery case, Shaikh Yasmeen Banu, has claimed that she was "lured and misguided" by social activist Teesta Setalvad into giving a false testimony. Appeals filed by the nine convicts in the 2002 Best Bakery case are pending before the Bombay High Court.

"Teesta Setalvad made me give false testimony in the Best Bakery case by luring and misguiding me. I had written everything in the affidavit submitted to the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court in June last year," Yasmeen said in a statement issued earlier this week.

Reacting to the allegation, Setalvad said, "The trial is long over. The guilty have been brought to book. I do not know why this statement has been made now. Her (Yasmeen) statement is manipulative."

Yasmeen was the only prosecution witness from the Shaikh family who stood by the police's case against the 17 accused. Rest of the family, including prime witness and Yasmeen's sister-in-law Zaheera Shaikh, had turned hostile, alleging that they were forced by Setalvad to lie. In her affidavit dated June 17, 2010, Yasmeen has stated that her deposition before the trial court was made at the behest of Setalvad.

According to Yasmeen, one Rais Khan, who is a close associate of Setalvad, had met her along with local Muslim leaders claiming that her life was in danger in Gujarat and she should shift to Mumbai where she would be taken care of.

"Setalvad and Rais promised to help me. I am leading a poor and miserable life. My affidavit should be treated as a petition. I don't want to say anything more," Yasmeen's statement reads.

Apart from the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, Yasmeen's affidavit has also been sent to the Chief Justice of India, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and
Director General of Police, Gujarat.

In February 2006, the sessions court here sentenced nine accused to life imprisonment. The court later tried and convicted Zaheera and others who had turned hostile for perjury.

Fourteen people who had taken refuge in the Best Bakery -- owned by the Shaikh family -- in Vadodara were killed on March 1, 2002, during the post-Godhra riots.

JPN/Agencies