Witness protection will be given highest priority during the trial of the post-Godhra riots cases of 2002,said R K Raghvan,who heads the SIT appointed by the Supreme Court.
“Witness protection will be the highest priority during the trial of the riots cases,all those who will be deposing before the court will be getting adequate protection and they need not fear anybody,” Raghvan told reporters here. “Over the next two days,we will be working on witness protection plans and I would like to set an example on witness protection plans given to those deposing in riot cases. Otherwise,I will fail in my duty,” he said.
Raghavan is here for the first time after Supreme Court gave the SIT sweeping powers to conduct trials of important riots cases of 2002. It had also given instructions to investigate the role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in Gulbarg society riot case.
Raghavan will meet Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court K S Radhakrishnan in the evening. “We will be meeting Gujarat high court Chief Justice and discuss how to carry the Supreme Court order forward,” Raghavan said,adding that this was just a courtesy call. Raghavan further said that they will try to expedite the process of setting up of special courts for speedy trials in the riot cases.
Replying to a question if there was need to take the witness outside the state for their protection,Raghavan said,”I dont see any reason of such an atmosphere in the state. If the witness complains that he is being intimidated,it will only go against the defence”.
When asked on lack of direct evidence and lapse of time Raghavan said,”I am not concerned about lack of direct evidence or time lapse,of course these are factors which are being taken into consideration. There lies our skills and objectives (to solve the case)”.
The Supreme Court had lifted the stay on trial of 2002 Gujarat riots cases and directed the setting up of fast track courts for holding it on a day-to-day basis. The SIT has investigated 10 cases including the Godhra train burning and subsequent riots cases and had submitted its report before the apex court in March.
The Apex Court had on March 26,2008,constituted SIT which besides Raghavan as its head has former Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police C B Satpathy and three IPS officers from Gujarat Geeta Johri,Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia as its members. The SIT was asked to “inquire and investigate” cases relating to Godhra carnage in which 59 people were killed and other cases including,Gulbarg Society,Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad,Sargarpura in Mehsana,Ode in Anand and Prantij in Sabarkantha.