2002 riots: Court likely to give verdict on Zakia’s protest petition today

The matter was heard by the magistrate for nearly five months.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: December 26, 2013 4:14:48 am

A metropolitan court is likely to pronounce its verdict Thursday on Zakia Jafri’s protest petition against the closure report filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) giving a clean chit to Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra and post-Godhra riot cases.

The case was initially filed against Modi and 61 politicians,bureaucrats,police officers and others,but the list of accused is now down to 56,all of whom have been accused of omission or commission during the riots.

Jafri’s husband and Congress ex-MP Ahsan Jafri,was among the 68 people killed by a mob in Gulberg Society on February 28,2002. The Supreme Court had appointed an SIT under former CBI director R K Raghavan to conduct a preliminary inquiry. The SIT submitted a report in 2011 clearing Modi of all the charges.

The metropolitan court has sought security cover for its premises and magistrate B G Ganatra to thwart any sort of protests or untoward incident given the sensitivity of the case. There will be at least two dozen cops in the court. The Magistrate will get extra cover.

This is the only case on 2002 riots involving Modi who faces allegations of alleged conspiracy and failing to discharges his duty that led to the statewide riots that killed hundreds of people,mostly from minority community.

Soon after the closure report in September 2011,where SIT said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Modi,the CM launched the serial Sadbhavana mission fasts,purportedly to reach out to the minorities.

Nearly a year after this report,the complainant filed a protest petition challenging the SIT report and alleged that the probing agency for being biased as despite having enough material evidence it chose to close the case. The matter was heard by the magistrate for nearly five months on which the judgment he may pronounce on Thursday.

During the arguments,Zakia’s lawyers claimed that SIT ignored the witnesses and evidence and hurried to file a closer report,rather than allowing the court itself to judge and decide the matter. They claimed that the evidence collected by the SIT is enough for the court to take cognisance of the complaint and put Modi to trial. They also demanded further reinvestigation of the case by an independent agency.

On the other hand,the SIT in its arguments discarded Zakia’s complaint as “fiction” while stating that she doesn’t remember any of the charges she has levelled against Modi and others. SIT argued that whatever evidence it collected were not enough to prosecute Modi.

In 2006,Zakia had approached the SC after Gujarat Police refused to lodge an FIR based on her allegations against 62 persons including Modi. The apex court then appointed the SIT to probe nine riots related cases in Gujarat.

Since the original complaint,four accused have died including BJP leaders Ashok Bhatt and Nalin Bhatt,former president of the Gujarat VHP K K Shastri and Director General of Police Amitabh Pathak.

IPS officers Satish Verma and Rahul Sharma,who were also in the original list of accused,were dropped later. Verma assisted the CBI in the Ishrat fake encounter case while Sharma obtained call data records from cellphone companies,during the riots,as evidence,which helped nail some accused in the Naroda Patia case in which 31 accused were convicted.

Former minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader,who were convicted in the Naroda Patia case,have been dropped from this list along with VHP leader Jaideep Patel and Deputy Superintendent of Police K G Erda,against whom the SIT has filed charge sheets.

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