Gujarat police in Bhopal to summon scribe in exhumation case

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BHOPAL - A six-member Gujarat police team arrived here Wednesday to serve summons on a senior journalist in connection with the Lunawada exhumation case related to the digging up of 21 bodies of riot victims in Lunawada in Gujarat in 2005.

Rahul Singh, senior correspondent of Headlines Today in Delhi who covered the controversial exhumation for Sahara TV then, said Gujarat police are being vindictive against him for exposing the story.

The grave was dug up by a group in December 2005 and some relatives of the victims claimed they were not informed about it, which led the police to file a case against the men who organised the exhumation.

Since Rahul was in Delhi, the Lunawada police officials told Rahul’s father N.K. Singh, resident editor of Hindustan Times in Bhopal, that they want to serve the summons and take his son with them to Gujarat.

“They did not believe that Rahul was not in the house and asked me to bring him out,” N.K. Singh told IANS. “When they realised he was not here they asked me to accept summons, but I refused.”

“Then they asked me to give a statement in the case, which also I refused. Finally, they said they will paste the summons on the wall. I said they can do it,” he added.

Singh also said that his friends in Gujarat informed him that Rahul has been made a co-accused in the case and that it was not a simple issue of taking his son to Gujarat, but they want to put him in jail on various charges.

Rahul told IANS from Delhi: “The police now say that the digging of bodies had been done in a notified area and permission was not taken from them. But the families whose loved ones were missing after the Gujarat riots had no idea that the area was a notified one.”

“We were only doing our duty. The families whose members were missing contacted us and we found that at least 21 dead bodies were piled upon each other. There were pieces of clothes on them, which showed the bodies had been dumped,” he said.

Rahul added: “The Gujarat government and its police are being vindictive against us and trying to save their face after the exposes.”

The matter has been taken up by politicians, rights activists and media persons.

“This is an unfortunate act. Journalists who work for people’s cause should not be harassed like this. In this case, Madhya Pradesh government should also be responsible as this could not happen without their consent,” J.P. Dhanopia, a state Congress spokesman, said.

“This is an attack on the freedom of press. The Gujarat government want police and press to speak only its language,” said Rajkumar Keshwani, a senior journalist.

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