2002 Gujarat riots: Despite request to Narendra Modi, Army lost a crucial day waiting for vehicles, says Lt General Zameer Uddin

3,000 troops had to wait for a day before the Gujarat administration provided the transport -- during which period hundreds of people were killed, says Lt. Gen Zameer Uddin Shah.

Published: 05th October 2018 06:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th October 2018 08:19 AM   |  A+A-

Gujarat Riots_AFP 1

Image used for representational purpose only

By IANS

NEW DELHI: On the intervening night of February 28 and March 1, 2002 when Gujarat was engulfed in flames, Lt. Gen Zameer Uddin Shah, met the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in the presence of the then Defence Minister George Fernandes, at 2 am in Ahmedabad and gave him a list of immediate requirements to enable the Army columns to fan out to restore law and order.

But the 3,000 troops that had landed at the Ahmedabad airfield at 7 am on March 1, had to wait for a day before the Gujarat administration provided the transport -- during which period hundreds of people were killed.

"These were crucial hours lost," Shah, who retired as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, has revealed in his upcoming memoir titled "The Sarkari Mussalman" to be launched by former Vice President Hamid Ansari on October 13 at India International Centre here.

In this 05 March 2016 file photo, Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets
Aligarh Muslim University vice chancellor Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah
in New Delhi on Saturday. (Photo | PTI)

In the memoir, a copy of which is with IANS, Shah writes that the Gujarat government requested for deployment of the Army through the Union Home Ministry and the Ministry of Defence on February 28, 2002.

The then Chief of Army Staff, General S. Padmanabhan was quoted by him as saying: "'Zoom, get your formation to Gujarat tonight and quell the riots.' I replied, 'Sir, the road move will take us two days.' He shot back, 'The Air Force will take care of your move from Jodhpur. Get maximum troops to the airfield. Speed and resolute action are the need of the hour.'"

Upon arriving at the "dark and deserted" Ahmedabad airfield, he enquired: "Where are the vehicles and other logistic support we had been promised?" He learnt that the state government was still "making the necessary arrangements".

Vehicles on fire in Ahmedabad, India, on Feb. 28, 2002, the day 69 Muslims,
mostly women and children, died in a compound set ablaze by thousands
of Hindu men armed with stones, iron rods and bombs. | Associated Press

"The crucial periods was the night of 28th February and the 1st of March. This is when the maximum damage was done. I met the chief minister at 2 am on the 1st morning. The troops sat on the airfield all through the 1st of March and we got the transport only on the 2nd of March. By then the mayhem had already been done," Shah, who has been conferred Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Vishisht Seva Medal and Sena Medal for his services to the armed forces, told IANS.

Asked if the damage would be lesser had the army been allowed full freedom and provided with what he had personally asked Modi for, he agreed and said: "Most certainly the damage would have been much, much less had we got the vehicles at the right time. What the police couldn't do in six days we did in 48 hours despite being six times smaller in size than them. We finished the operation in 48 hours on the 4th of March but it could have been finished on the 2nd of March itself had we not lost those crucial hours."

He said that he is not blaming anyone in particular. "It may take some time in arranging transport but in a situation like that, it could have possibly been done faster," he added.

He said the police were "dumb bystanders" while the "mob was setting fire on streets and houses". They were taking "no action" to prevent the "mayhem" that was being done.

"I did see a lot of MLAs from the majority community sitting at the police stations. They had no business to be there. Whenever we used to tell the police to impose the curfew, they never did so in the minority areas. So the minorities were always surrounded by the mobs. It was a totally parochial and biased handling," the decorated army veteran maintained.

Asked of the political links in the riot, Shah said that he does not "want to reopen any old wounds", maintaining that the purpose of his memoir is "to tell the facts as they happened in Gujarat in 2002".

"It takes three generations to forget. I do not want to reopen the wounds. I have spoken the truth about police and I stand by every word I have written," he said.

In this 27 February 2002 file photo, the Coach S-6 carrying Hindu pilgrims engulfed in flames at Godhra, a Muslim-dominated area in Gujarat. | Associated Press

The government had told the parliament in 2005 that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people reported missing and another 2,500 injured during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Shah maintains in the book that the "official figures of deaths and damage do not reflect a true picture of the actual extent of the carnage".

The book -- packed with revelations as also his personal experiences in life, both as an army man and a Muslim in India -- has been endorsed by at least two chiefs of army staff, including General S. Padmanabhan.

"Many eyebrows were raised when I nominated 'Zoom' to lead the Army complement to Gujarat. Some seniors told me of their misgivings. I told them in no uncertain terms that the choice of troops and their leader was a military decision and not open to debate. The Army moved into Gujarat, led by 'Zoom' whose ability, impartiality and pragmatic decision making, soon brought the situation under control," Gen Padmanabhan wrote as an endorsement of the book.

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Comments(59)

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  • Syed Masood Ahmed

    It's the blood of human being which matters
    3 months ago reply
  • Jay Sankar

    Terrorist Modi and his terrorist BJP. Kick these terrorists out of India
    5 months ago reply
    • MuhammadsVirgins

      Yeh come kick very soon all are waiting.
      24 days ago reply
  • jeovany

    2019 loksabha elections are coming. Now khangress
    5 months ago reply
  • MD Kaleem Hashmi

    How so long the days passs
    5 months ago reply
  • Subu

    Given as assigment
    5 months ago reply
  • DK

    Forget Hindus killed Muslims or Muslims burnt Hindus or Hindus killed Sikhs
    5 months ago reply
  • Anil Kumar Tandale

    Arrangement of vehicles depends upon the number of troops air lifted. Whether the numbers were made known in advance? The logistics had to be worked out between local officers of defence and police. Still Modi to be blamed? By the way what was the response time of Raiv Gandhi when his mother died on 31 October 1984?
    5 months ago reply
  • Habib

    It’s a great shame to say it that the army has no logistical support for their operations.... What kind of army had was that time...... If you could not able to control a riot in a state than how you are going to face Greater War.... and how to defend our territory...
    5 months ago reply
  • PS!

    I am yet to hear of a majority person writing a memoir titled "The Sarkari Hindu". In the Indian Army
    5 months ago reply
  • N.V.SANAKRAN

    A man is judged by the company he keeps. His book was released by the ungrateful Hamid Ansari the traitor who ocupied the post of Vice President for two terms and yet defamed India saying that Muslims are not safe in India. What the hell was this army-man doing all these 16 years? Why did he not testify in front of the SIT?
    5 months ago reply
    • M E Haque

      If you are telling traitor to Honourable Hamid And arm then I can certainly say that your whole family is anti national and anti India. Try to respect others you mean minded SI.
      5 months ago reply
  • Indian

    This man is now saying something
    5 months ago reply
  • Rahat Abrar

    Gen Shah is a bold and honest person.He is a most secular person with high moral values and integrity. I salute him for his book
    5 months ago reply
  • Ramesh M

    Everybody hides facts of what led to the riots... The fact that innocent Hindu pilgrims comprising of children
    5 months ago reply
  • Raj Asthana

    I am not surprised as to why immediately after Independence the percentage of muslims in the army is 2 or less. It was a conscious decision of the INC i am told. The comment is subject to verification though.
    5 months ago reply
  • kupendran

    I feel shame! The women and children killed by the same countrymen.
    5 months ago reply
  • Dkj

    Mia military Pakistani Bangladeshi hinduon ke bare men kya ray hai? Muslim KO Eagan league Jai
    5 months ago reply
  • indian

    why should army expect vehicles from state government. Army has its own vehicles
    5 months ago reply
    • SHANKAR

      The Army cannot carry its troop carrying vehicles with when it has to be airlifted anywhere in an emergency. Transport is provided by Army formations which are located in the area.In Ahmedabad
      4 months ago reply
  • MARUTHIRAM

    Great sir
    5 months ago reply
  • Syed

    To maintain.peace and humanity of our country .our country government should develop ability to act nd solve as early as to preserve a country.
    5 months ago reply
  • Milind

    This is mischievous on part of a soldier to write this after 16 years. Army makes own arrangements and does not depend on a state administration.
    5 months ago reply
  • Jitendra Desai

    "Zoom barabar zoom" sharabi! Where were you all these years?
    5 months ago reply
  • sathya

    The political agenda - polarization of India
    5 months ago reply
  • Jia Ulhak

    Lt Gen Shah should be court martialed and punished. He had no idea how to arrange for transport! Shocking!
    5 months ago reply
    • Ramesh M

      Lies... All lies... The Supreme Court went through all the Cases referred to it in an attempt to implicate Narendra Modi the CM... He was cleared of all charges of delay
      5 months ago reply
  • Pervez Younus

    After the carnage
    5 months ago reply
  • Srikanth

    In pakistan a hindu cannot become vice chief of army staff
    5 months ago reply
    • Zid

      For your kind information India is not an hindu nation. You and we all guys are immigrants here .
      5 months ago reply
    • CHENNUBOINA VENKATESWARLU

      Stop this kind of statements. We are Indians. Pakistan is not our guide.
      5 months ago reply
  • Ra Mon

    What prevented the Army personnel from setting course on foot? It would have taken them a couple of hours at most to have reached any part of the city.
    5 months ago reply
  • Mohamed

    True face of modi. RSS is his boss. When RSS wants him a hero
    5 months ago reply
    • Abu

      Inshallah he will be a big zero 0 soon
      5 months ago reply
    • Ramesh M

      Narendra Modi was cleared of all such related charges by the Supreme Court... Despite every effort of the Congress...
      5 months ago reply
  • Prem Sagar

    A TOP CLASS UPRIGHT ARMY GEN Zoo. Shah .He performed like a Professional ARMY GEN. But gujurat CM was busy twiddling his finger till his made bakht finished the job they were forced to commit. Many defenseless victims died 2002 and MORE
    5 months ago reply
    • Abc

      Agree with you bro
      5 months ago reply
    • Zid

      He mentioned that mostly majority community MLA was sitting in police stations
      5 months ago reply
  • Srikkanth KJ

    Hope someone writes a similar book on the killing and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits. And hope it receives similar interest in media like the 2002 Gujrat riots.
    5 months ago reply
    • Zid

      Hope some one write the book on 247000 Muslims gujjars killed by Hindus and RSS terrorist on 1947 till 1948
      5 months ago reply
    • CHENNUBOINA VENKATESWARLU

      Today it may be Muslims
      5 months ago reply
    • CHENNUBOINA VENKATESWARLU

      Yes
      5 months ago reply
  • manmohan chamola

    same thing had happened during 84 delhi riots.
    5 months ago reply
    • Sam Sunder

      Sad the 84 riots happened. But this is what it happens when it happens to sitting minister.
      5 months ago reply
  • RSM

    Another scholar like Ansari who wake up only when it is convenient for them. Such dishonest scholars be damned.
    5 months ago reply
  • Vishwas

    Ex-VP Ansari himself is a fanatic Muslim. He seem to have not mention the train burning by Muslims that led to the riots. A typical anti-Hindu mindset. And whom he got to corroborate? A Muslim army senior. He must have been chosen by Congress leaders deliberately though army doesn't differentiate any on religion. High time Congress is totally demolished. It will actually help Muslims in India more.
    5 months ago reply
    • Zid

      But less then Rss terrorist bhagwat
      5 months ago reply
    • Ramesh M

      True... The burning of innocent Hindu Pilgrims comprising of children women and men
      5 months ago reply
  • badri narayanan poondi

    If Shri Modi had budged to the pressures of his party loyalists to delay the operation and allow the avenge for the Godhra killings
    5 months ago reply
  • Kanwal Gill

    1984 and 2002 innocent killings were planned
    5 months ago reply
  • ALEXANDER KURIAN

    As per the revelation of the General handling the 2002 Gujarat riots
    5 months ago reply
  • sunil

    Even during mumbai attacks NSG had transportation logistics problem.
    5 months ago reply
  • Saurabh

    Thanks for your services. And no thanks to maut ka saudagar who deliberately stopped deployment of troops during that riot.
    5 months ago reply
  • Santa Banta

    Bullshit!!! Why now???? Also the person releasing shows the political leaning. Will do well if the general sticks to his uniform and side with these crooks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
    5 months ago reply
    • Ramesh M

      True...
      5 months ago reply
  • D. Albert

    Narendra Modi must be held accountable for the Gujarat riots. Only in a country like India could a criminal like Modi escape punishment. Blood of innocent Muslims is in his hands.
    5 months ago reply
    • Rajesh

      And the blood of hundreds of Hindus also killed in the Gujarat riots
      5 months ago reply
  • Rajat

    The comment could have been constructive.. by saying despite requesting army by himself
    5 months ago reply
  • Chandramouli Swaminathan

    cold porridge is an old porridge. What is the use of digging the old skeletons
    5 months ago reply
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