By Yoginder Sikand
05 November, 2007, Countercurrents.org
Interview of Vithalbhai Pandya by Yoginder Sikand
Q: What do you feel about the recent judgment by the POTA court in the Haren Pandya murder case?
A: I firmly believe that my son Haren Pandya was killed at Modi's behest through D.G. Vanjara, head of Gujarat's Anti-Terrorist Squad and Modi's blue-eyed boy. This was because Haren was a transparent and efficient man, whom Modi thought of as a threat to his power. Haren was opposed to the worship of any individual, and so became a thorn in Modi's flesh. He was the only BJP MLA in Gujarat who did not act according to Modi's will. When the train coach was set alight in Godhra, Haren told Modi to confine the incident to Godhra itself and not to spread violence in the rest of Gujarat, as that would tear apart the fabric of our society and cause irreparable economic, besides human, destruction. But, yet, Modi went ahead, and organized a meeting in Sabarkantha where he plotted the genocide of Muslims throughout the state. These were state-sponsored massacres. I am saying this in the capacity of the father of the then Gujarat Home Minister, because I knew this from Haren himself.
I have leveled specific charges against Modi but the CBI did not interrogate him. Under stiff pressure from Modi and his mentor, Lal Krishen Advani, then Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, the CBI did not conduct a proper probe. Modi, Advani and Vanjara are all criminals. It is the height of tragedy that the criminals I have pointed to have not been interrogated and punished and key witnesses have not been called to court. Advani and Modi must be arrested and sentenced for their anti-national activities, for spreading communal hatred and violence and thereby tearing apart our country and destroying its unity and integrity.
From the very beginning I have been arguing that Modi was not killed in his Maruti car outside the Law Gardens in Ahmedabad, contrary to what the CBI claims in order to pass the blame on to the arrested Muslim youth. A team of top forensic scientists who studied the matter also concurred with me on this. No blood drops were found in the car, nor was there any residue of the bullets. Haren was shot at in the scrotum and the bullet traveled vertically from there, which would not have been possible if he had been shot at in the car. Since the data in the form of investigation is wrong, how can the judgment be right? The court did not consider the opinion of the forensic experts due to political interference in the case. I demanded that Modi be first removed from the post of Chief Minister of Gujarat and then let the CBI conduct its probe if it is to be fair and impartial, but, sadly, this did not happen, for obvious political reasons.
Q: Have you appealed in the court to present your case?
A: I applied to the court to file my appeal. I wanted to appear as a party in person but I did not get any reply from the court. I then wrote to the Supreme Court, but from there, too, I got no response. I also appealed to the President of India, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice and leaders of various political parties to take up the case, but no one showed any sincere interest. I sent letters to BJP and RSS letters, but they, too, did not reply, despite the fact that my son was a top BJP leader, the Home Minister of Gujarat.
Q: What, then, do you think of the RSS and the BJP?
A: The BJP is today not a genuine political party at all. It is a gang of a few sophisticated ruffians. These people are hungry for money and power. Their speech and their actions do not match. They want to spread communal hatred in the name of Hinduism and thereby climb to power. According to the noted scholar Ashish Nandy, Modi shows all signs of being a psychopathic dictator. He, Advani and their likes have worked against the unity and integrity of this great nation. For their anti-national and anti-Constitutional crimes they must be arrested and jailed.
People are losing faith in the RSS. Modi has created a vertical split in the RSS, and many RSS leaders tell me that they dislike him. He has also put aside the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), and is, instead, patronizing a bunch of sadhus who constantly flatter him. Ambitious, selfish people have taken control of the RSS and the VHP. Look at Modi's ministry—it contains so many criminals and ruffians. Modi's government in Gujarat is being run on jhoot (lies), julm (oppression) and jasusi (spying). Modi has his spies in every office. And Gujarat is now engulfed in crime, in riots.
RSS and VHP leaders have amassed vast amounts of money in the name of destroying the Babri Masjid and building a temple in Ayodhya. Some time ago, Gauri Advani, Lal Krishen Advani's daughter-in-law came out with a statement that Advani was not a true Hindu, that he was misusing the name of Rama. Such is the state of the BJP.
Q: So, do you feel that the Muslims arrested and sentenced in the Haren Pandya case are actually innocent?
A: I am concerned with the actual motivator of the murder, who, I say, is Narendra Modi. The Muslims who were arrested are poor and illiterate, and such people can be used. Modi is worse than Hitler. He will use all means to protect himself, including threats and enticements.
Q: But what about the Muslims arrested? Do you think they are innocent and have been wrongly framed?
A: Maybe they are innocent. This is something that should be properly investigated. How can I cite my own opinion? I am in touch with the families of these Muslim men. They respect me greatly. They have told me that their sons were not at all involved in Haren's murder. It may be that the CBI has fabricated the whole story about these Muslims in order to save Modi.
Q: So, are you saying that you think that these Muslims were not involved in the killing?
A: They were not involved. They did not kill Haren. They had no role in his murder. But, still, this is a matter for the court, so what can I say? The court should have been impartial but it was not. Key witnesses, such as myself and Haren's secretary, have not been examined. I believe Vanjara arranged for Haren's murder to please Modi in order to get a promotion, and the story of these innocent Muslims being involved was concocted in order to further fan Hindu emotions while getting rid of a major rival to Modi. One man, Mufti Sufiyan, who was under constant police vigil, was allowed to cross over to Pakistan so that witnesses could be made hostile and Modi could escape conviction.
Further, efforts were made to destroy all possible evidence. All the telephone numbers on Haren's mobile phone of calls made on the 25th and 26th of March, that is the day before and the day of his murder, were later deleted. The Hutch company may have been bribed or led astray or put under pressure to do so. Had the numbers not been deleted, it could easily have been ascertained who it was who had called him the morning he was murdered, because it was after getting this call that he left home in haste, shortly after which he was killed. Obviously, that person must have been very familiar to him, otherwise he would not have rushed out like that. And then when he reached the place which he must have mentioned to this caller, he must have been surrounded by the killers, who pushed him on the ground, because of which some gravel got lodged in his knees. They must have shot him there, then put him in his car and taken it and his corpse to the Law Gardens. The fact of the gravel in his knees clearly indicates that he was not shot inside the car, but that he was killed elsewhere.
I have clear-cut evidence to prove that Modi was responsible for Haren's murder. It is as good as a dying declaration. Some two or three months before Haren's murder, Modi asked the President of the Gujarat unit of the BJP to issue Haren a show-cause notice, because he felt that Haren was emerging as a powerful challenge to him. Haren said that he feared that he might fall a victim to Modi's ego, vendetta and revenge. Haren did not follow Modi's whims, and so Modi arranged for this show-cause notice to be issued. The President of the BJP state unit had to do as Modi had told him, although he held Haren in great respect, and was literally in tears when he informed Haren about the notice.
On 24th March, two days before he was killed, Haren, referring to Modi, told me, 'Take it from me, this Ghanchi (oil-presser, the caste to which Modi belongs) may be rusticated from Gujarat within 15 days, by around the 10th of April, otherwise I am not a Brahmin.' And that matter leaked out. Haren may have told the same thing to someone else, who might have informed Modi, and then became the apple of Modi's eye.
Q: And who is that person?
A: Oh, let that person go to hell. As I said, Haren might have told some friends of his the same thing that he told me. It may have been a very big builder in Ahmedabad, who might have told this to Advani, and maybe Modi came to know of this through him. That is why Modi might have conspired to have him killed. Haren wanted to drive Modi out of Gujarat using constitutional means. He disliked Modi's attitude, his arrogance and his unconstitutional deeds.
Q: What do you feel about the burning of the coach of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, which was then used by Modi to engineer a genocide of Muslims across Gujarat?
A: I think it was a pre-planned strategy of Modi to use the Hindutva card to keep himself in power at any cost.
Q: So, are you saying that you think that the train was set alight on Modi's instructions?
Q: Not by some Muslims in Godhra?
A: No, no, no.
Q: So are you saying that you believe that Modi was involved in the burning of the coach?
Q: Did Haren Pandya tell you that?
A: He told me that Modi would certainly do something (Modi zaroor kuch na kuch karega).
Q: But did he explicitly tell you that Modi had planned the burning of the coach?
A: No, he did not tell me this. But I believe that the Muslims of Godhra were not responsible for the burning of the coach. The karesevaks returning from Ayodhya in the train were absolutely frenzied and then this happened.
Q: But do you mean to say that you think the coach was burnt at Modi's instigation?
A: Definitely. Definitely. Definitely.
Q: Since you believe that the Gujarat High Court's judgmnent is wrong, have you demanded a reinvestigation into the Haren Pandya murder case?
A: Yes, yes. I have sent numerous letters to leaders of the country demanding a reinvestigation. I wrote to the President of India, the Chief Justice and also delivered a letter to Sonia Gandhi in person. However, I have got no response at all. Maybe there is some pressure not to go ahead with the reinvestigation. I've been moving heaven and earth to get at the truth but as long as Modi and Advani are not punished justice will elude me.
Q: What do you feel about Modi's chances of winning in the coming elections in Gujarat?
A: He is feeding the people with sleeping pills, fanning communal hatred. But this time I don't think he will be elected. Who knows, prior to that he might be behind bars? I wish I could file a suit against him to disqualify him, but I am an ordinary middle-class man and cannot afford the exorbitant cost that this would entail. And then, only a lawyer who will not succumb to Modi's tactics—bribes and intimdation—can take him on.
But I will continue my struggle against Modi. It is not a struggle for my son, but for Gujarat, for justice and democracy, for humanity, for the victims of those thousands of innocent Muslims who Modi arranged to have massacred. I am 80 years-old, and now at the fag end of my life. I am doing what I can to see that Modi and Advani and their likes are brought to justice. I send off letters to various leaders demanding justice. I cannot even remember the number of these letters. I have yet to get any positive response, even from the Congress. But still I shall continue to raise my voice. Otherwise, what is the use of living? I don't want to live like an inert corpse.
Modi behaves like the monarch of all he surveys. But I know in my heart that God will not let him go unpunished. He will die a dog's death. These are the words of a Brahmin.