Sting op CD: Godhra carnage convict opens a can of worms

Says SIT investigator had found CD inaudible; High Court likely to hear his plea today.

Ahmedabad | Published: January 23, 2012 4:41:49 am

The Supreme Court-appointed SIT has relied on the CD of a sting operation — carried out by a private media house on certain 2002 riots accused — in Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya massacre cases,even as the Investigation Officer of the same SIT in the Godhra carnage case had reportedly found the CD “inaudible”.

In the sting operation,a prime prosecution witness in the case is seen as making a statement that he was given Rs 50,000 by the then Investigating Officer in the case,Noel Parmar,to change his statement as per the wishes of the latter.

J R Mothaliya,the IO of the Godhra train burning case,had found the CD contents “inaudible” and had forwarded a report in that regard to SIT chairman R K Raghvan.

This revelation has been made by one of the 31 convicts in the case,Salim Zarda,who has challenged his conviction in the Gujarat High Court while also moving a petition to bring further evidence on record in the case,including the CD. The petition is expected to come up for hearing before the HC on Monday.

Zarda,who has been awarded death sentence by the trial court,has demanded to bring the evidence related to the sting operation carried out by a journalist of a news continued magazine. Selected parts of the sting operation were also broadcast by a private news channel in October 2007. The sting operation had reportedly recorded statement of a key prosecution witness,Ranjit Patel,who was an employee at a petrol pump in Godhra.

Referring to the SIT probe into the sting operation,Zarda has stated,“The investigation officer,SIT,also claimed to have investigated the CDs of the sting operation… by looking at the same without actually having seized it,and as the CD of the said sting operation was inaudible,PW-245 (J R Mothaliya,the IO) forwarded a report in this regard to Mr R K Raghawan…”

According to the prosecution case,the convicts — as part of a conspiracy — bought 140 litres of petrol from the petrol pump and had carried the same in seven carboys on February 26,2002,a day before the attack on the Sabarmati Express. And this version was inter alia based on the statement of Patel recorded by Gujarat Police in 2003. However,this was in contradiction to Patel’s earlier statement recorded by police in 2002 when he had said,“…loose petrol in carboys is not sold from their petrol pump…”

According to Zarda’s petition,in the sting operation,Patel is seen admitting that there was no sale of loose petrol as was claimed by the prosecution. Patel also admitted that he was paid Rs 50,000 by the then investigation officer,Parmar,to falsely implicate the accused.

Interestingly,immediately after the broadcast of the sting operation on a news channel,the National Human Rights Commission had suo-motu ordered a probe into the same by the CBI. The CBI later seized the CD and sent it to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL),Jaipur. In February 2009,the FSL gave a report confirming “authenticity” of the CD.

The CD has been produced by the SIT in other trials of massacres like Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya as evidence,but not in the Godhra carnage case trial.

“…truth is the only casualty when there is a ‘pick and choose theory’ particularly in view of this partisan attitude shown by the SIT,in whom great amount of faith was vested by none other than the Hon’ble Supreme Court,” Zarda says in his petition.

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