Chennai: Rana Ayyub is an investigative journalist who assumed the avatar of an independent filmmaker to investigate 2002 Gujarat riots. She exposed herself to dangers and clandestinely managed to record videos of her conversations with many high profile members of Gujarat’s law-and-order machinery. During her visit to the city for release of Tamil translation of her controversial self-published book, Gujarat files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, she opens up with DC about her investigation, book and her life as an under cover journalist.
Q Were Gujarat riots a pre-planned and well-executed pogrom or was it just mob frenzy?
I don’t want to comment on that at this point of time. But my book has sufficient evidence from the then Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad and Director General of Police of Gujarat stating various facts. The various cases I have mentioned in the book clearly suggest State machinery’s complicity in Gujarat pogrom, fake encounters and Haren Pandya murder. Rather than me drawing a conclusion, it is up to the court to ask for the dates and the transcripts and they have to come to a conclusion.
Q Why have most of the cases fallen apart
The people whom I have secretly interviewed are the same people who were interrogated by Nanavati Commission. All of them who held back information from the Commission of many things that happened during riots, spoke to me differently. People were scared and they developed selective amnesia when they talked to SIT and the Commission. My book has the accounts given by the witnesses. Now, SIT should take note of it. Modi was never accused in the first place and most of the cases have fallen apart.
Q You said your book is an exercise of truth and justice. What do you mean by that?
The purpose of writing this book or doing a sting operation is because there is a great deal of mystery surrounding Gujarat riots, even now. Most reporters
I talked to said, we knew all about it. But nobody got it from the horse’s mouth. For the first time, top officials confessed to aberrations in the State’s version on riots and fake encounters. The purpose of the book is to get the truth out.
Q There is a criticism that your investigation has not brought out any fresh evidence other than already existing findings of SIT in 2010. Your comment.
I don’t think that at any given point in SIT investigation did P. C. Pandey, the then Commissioner of Police say “Muslims have done this to us thrice and we have given it back to them, it feels good”. Again, the then IB chief
said, “Modi has got lot of political mileage because of the riots, but he could have done more and also he could have called the forces”. And he admitted that IB had cautioned them clearly of riots and fake encounters. In the Haren Pandya murder, an official investigating the murder has said the man who killed Haren Pandya was in their custody .
Q You said your report was instrumental in implicating Amit Shah in Sohrabuddin Sheik encounter case?
In 2010, when CBI was enquiring the fake encounter case, I had got all call records raw data, which establish that Amit Shah was in constant touch with officials who were responsible for Sohrabuddin and Kouser Bi’s fake encounter. This got him arrested.
Q Talk about the undercover operation.
Undercover operations are always a psychological issue. You are leaving
all your identities and living as somebody else who belongs to a different
faith and culture. To listen continuously to people who have no qualms in talking about a certain community being killed is torturous.