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’02 riots: Gujarat revokes security of witnesses, former judge | India News – Times of India

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AHMEDABAD: Fifteen years after a SC-appointed SIT formed a witness protection cell for the complainants/witnesses of the 2002 riots, Gujarat government has withdrawn police cover from the witnesses, their lawyers, and also a retired judge.
The SIT had formed the special cell based on SC’s recommendation in all nine cases it was handling. These included Godhra train carnage & following massacres at Naroda Patia, Naroda Gam, Gulbarg Society, Dipda Darwaza, Sardarpur & Ode.
Among those who have lost police protection is former principal city sessions judge Jyotsna Yagnik, who had convicted 32 of the accused in Naroda Patia case involving the massacre of 97 people. She had two layers of security assigned to her after she purportedly received threats on 18 occasions.
A posse of guards would be deployed at Yagnik’s house while a personal security officer would always be her shadow. In November, the guards deployed at her house were removed allegedly without informing her. Yagnik contemplated writing to the CJI about it but had second thoughts about it, sources said.

Advocates M M Tirmizi and S M Vora had also been provided police protection along with the witnesses.
Imtiyazkhan Pathan, the prime witness in the Gulbarg Society massacre, said, “If something happens to us, who will be responsible? court, SIT, or police? We should be given arms licences for our protection if police protection is removed.” Pathan said it was “improper” of SIT to withdraw police protection when most of the cases were pending in the courts and the majority of the accused were out on bail.
Iqbal Baloch, a witness in the Dipda Darwaza case, termed police stations being instructed to watch over him and the others “meaningless”. The decision to revoke police protection of witnesses came on December 13, seemingly catching them by surprise. Officials said Gujarat Police withdrew all personnel deployed for protection of the witnesses, lawyers and a judge on a recommendation by SIT chief B C Solanki.
“After assessment, a decision has been taken to withdraw the protection…It is requested to instruct respective police station in-charge to take care of the security of witnesses,” states the letter.
The Ahmedabad police has since sought details of the witnesses, complainants and lawyers whose security cover has been withdrawn. Solanki said he wasn’t aware exactly how many people had police guards assigned to them under the witness protection programme.



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