2002 riots: CM is said to be exploring legal options to avoid summons by panel
As anticipated,Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi failed to show up before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT),which had summoned him on Sunday for questioning in connection with a 2002 riots case.
Sources in the SIT said they had not received any communication from the state government regarding the summons which were issued on March 11. Official sources said the senior BJP leader was exploring legal alternatives in response to the summons by the SIT and may seek appearance before the panel during the coming week if left with no choice.
The SIT chose to remain mum on the choices before it if Modi failed to appear indefinitely. SIT chief R K Raghvan confirmed to The Indian Express late on Sunday evening that there had been no word from Modi. We are still waiting for a response, he said. Asked what the SITs line of action would be if Modi didnt turn up at all,Raghvan said: We will wait.
The office of the SIT in Gandhinagar was kept open on Sunday and its members were present in case Modi presented himself.
It was the first time that the 59-year-old Chief Minister had been called for questioning in connection with the riots. Modi was summoned by the SIT with regard to a complaint filed by Zakia Jafri,wife of former Congress MP Eshan Jafri,who was killed in the Gulberg Society massacre in February 2002 along with 69 others.
Legal activist Mukul Sinha,who is fighting a legal battle for the 2002 riot victims,believes the SIT cannot compel Modi to answer the summons. The entire exercise could prove futile… What Modi has been issued is only a notice for appearence without any force of law instead of a proper summons under Section 160 of the CrPC. This itself shows how serious the SIT really is about questioning Modi, he said.
The Supreme Court,on April 27 last year,asked the SIT to inquire into Jafris complaint in which she alleged that Modi and 62 others,including his Cabinet colleagues,police officials and senior bureaucrats aided and abetted the riots.
Zakia accused Modi of conspiring and giving instructions to the then director general of police and other senior officials to allow Hindus to give vent to their anger against Muslims.
Out of the 62 named in the petition,the SIT has already questioned a number of politicians and police officers,including the then minister of state for Home Gordhan Zadafia,former BJP leader Suresh Mehta,and senior cops Rahul Sharma and R B Sreekumar.
The Congress attacked Modi for not appearing before the SIT,saying it was contemptuous and showed that he loves to hide.
The SITs direction to Narendra Modi to appear before it shows the seriousness and importance attached to the issue by the apex court, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in New Delhi. For Modi to avoid appearing on any ground or pretext is contemptuous and would show that he loves to hide.
BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy evaded a direct reply. The government of Gujarat has made it clear that it shall act as per the law… This government has always supported and respected the law and will abide by it. It has the highest respect for the Supreme Court order and directions, he said.
Questions SIT has for the CM
* After passing a resolution condemning the deaths of 58 people in the Godhra train carnage in the Gujarat Assembly on February 28,2002,Modi delivered a speech in the House describing the incident as a pre-planned terror conspiracy. How did he know that?
* On February 27,then home minister Gordhan Zadafia was scheduled to go to Godhra. Why did Modi go there instead?
* Did the Assembly pass a resolution condemning the deaths of those who died in the post-Godhra riots? If not,why?
* When exactly did the RAF and Central forces arrive?