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Monday, July 16, 2018

Court rejects Zakia’s protest petition against his SIT clean chit in riots

The court finds it difficult to say that Modi deliberately ignored his duty during the riots.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: December 27, 2013 3:07:14 am

Accepting the closure report given by a Special Investigating Team appointed by the Supreme Court,a court in Ahmedabad Thursday rejected a protest petition that blamed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for the Gulberg Society killings during the 2002 riots.

The petition by Zakia Jafri,the widow of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri,who was among the 68 people killed by a mob in Gulberg Society,was the only riots case in which the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had been named a conspirator.

Jafri said she would appeal against the verdict in a higher court.

“Satyamev Jayate! Truth alone triumphs”,Modi tweeted in his reaction to the order by Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra. “Will share my thoughts on the judgment with you all tomorrow.”

The court said it completely accepted the stand of SIT chief R K Raghavan in the case.

Ganatra cited Gujarat’s “history of communal riots” as it cleared Modi of his alleged role in the “larger conspiracy” and rejected the evidence put forth by IPS officers R B Sreekumar,now retired,Sanjiv Bhatt,who has been suspended,and Rahul Sharma,to support this.

He also said that the fresh evidence presented by the petitioner was not enough to proceed against anyone. “This court is of the view that the complainant’s allegations are of collective,unclear and general nature,” Ganatra said.

“Right now,this evidence is irrelevant in the current procedure,so this court is of the view that under the circumstances,if the seriousness of the crime is to be strongly believed,even then,before a court holds a citizen as an accused,it is the moral duty of the court to take into account every aspect of the case as per law,” he said,referring to Jafri’s allegation that Modi and the other accused were directly or indirectly involved in the larger conspiracy.

The court defended several decisions taken by Modi and his government at the time,including the one to bring the bodies of those killed in the train fire in Godhra to Ahmedabad. That move was seen as the main provocation for the riots that followed.

“Most of the people and young children in the Sabarmati Express train were from in and around Ahmedabad. Therefore the decision of Narendra Modi,the collector Panchmahal,and others to say that those bodies whose post-mortem had been done,should be taken to Ahmedabad,was valid,” Ganatra said in the 460-page verdict in Gujarati.

The court also said there was no witness testimony to prove these bodies were paraded in Ahmedabad. Ganatra also rejected amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran’s observation that some of the bodies would not have been handed over to VHP leader Jaydeep Patel without the consent of someone higher-up.

Going into the history and definition of terms such as “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” used by the petitioner,the court rejected them as “foreign terms” not applicable to the post-Godhra riots.

“No conspiracy can be proved against Chief Minister Modi and his cabinet as they showed alacrity in requisitioning the Army and took necessary steps to control the situation,” the order said.

The court said there was no evidence to suggest that Modi had made a statement at a meeting with top officials following the Sabarmati Express burning incident in Godhra where,according to suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt,he said Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.

“There is no evidence that Modi made the controversial statement in the meeting of February 27,2002. The court agrees with SIT conclusions on Narendra Modi and rejects the demand that he be charged for conspiracy and abetment of crime,” the order said.

“The court finds it difficult to say that Modi deliberately ignored his duty during the riots.”

Jafri’s original complaint had accused Modi and 61 other bureaucrats,police officers and politicians of being involved in the larger conspiracy behind the riots. She had approached the Supreme Court in 2006 after the Gujarat Police refused to accept her complaint.

The apex court had asked the SIT,which was already probing nine serious riot cases,to probe Jafri’s allegations. The SIT gave a clean chit to Modi in September 2011,after which Modi launched his Sadbhavana Mission fasts,purportedly to reach out to Muslims.

— with PTI inputs

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