SIT gets SC go ahead to probe former Modi minister,cops

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi seems,for the time being,outside the crosshairs of the Supreme Court-appointed......

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi | Published:August 20, 2010 1:45 am

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi seems,for the time being,outside the crosshairs of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the post-Godhra riots of 2002,even as the probe body has zeroed in on a former state home minister and two senior police officers for playing a partisan role in the communal violence.

A Special Bench led by Justice DK Jain was told by SIT chief RK Raghavan that a probe was underway against ‘three individuals’ in the Gulbarg Society massacre case. The court promptly gave him permission to conduct ‘further’ probe.

Former Gujarat MoS for home Gordhan Zadaphia,retired additional DGP MK Tandon and IGP PB Gondia are under investigation,sources said,though Raghavan did not mention any specific names in court. In 2002,Tandon was serving as joint commissioner of police,Sector II while Gondia was the deputy commissioner of police in the same sector. Both officers were in charge of those parts of Ahmedabad city which witnessed the worst carnages during the riots —Naroda Patia where 95 people were killed and Gulbarg Society where 69 lives were lost.

The three feature among 65 persons,including Modi,listed as accused in a complaint filed by Zakia,the widow of ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri—he was killed by a mob at his Gulbarg Society home -—on the alleged collusion of the state machinery with rioters during the post-Godhra killings for almost two days.

The SIT also summoned Modi for a six-hour questioning session on his alleged role in the killing of Jafri in 2002,whose frantic calls for help to police and the chief minister were allegedly ignored.

The court was considering a confidential ‘preliminary’ inquiry report signed by SIT member and former CBI DIG AK Malhotra on Zakia’s complaint. In fact,the SC on Thursday ordered the SIT to not disclose the statements collected from Modi in the course of the investigation. “We direct the SIT not to divulge any information collected during the course of investigation to anyone except the trial court and public prosecutor concerned.”

Meanwhile,the Bench took ‘serious view’ of the complaint lodged against civil activist Teesta Setalvad by a special public prosecutor in one of the Godhra cases. According to a report read out in court by Justice Jain, a person identified as Salim Sheikh moved an application on July 19,2010 in the trial court in one of the Godhra cases.

Special public prosecutor RC Khotekar objected to the application,after which he received a call from Setalvad questioning why he objected to Sheikh’s application. She allegedly rebuked him for being ‘very unfair like the trial judge’ in charge of the case.

The conversation was reported to the SIT,who in turn notified the Supreme Court. Setalvad’s mobile number and the conversation’s transcripts were also placed on record along with the report.

Setalvad defended herself saying she did have a conversation with the prosecutor,but it had nothing to do with the matter alleged in the report. The Bench,saying it did not want to ‘pursue’ the matter against her,barred those other than the SIT chief from calling up the trial prosecutors,and vice versa,again in future.

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