The Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat has said in its report that activist Teesta Setalvad had instigated Zakia Jafri to make fabricated allegations against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The Special Investigation Team, which probed nine major cases related to the Gujarat riots, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it had thoroughly probed the allegations of Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad that there was a larger conspiracy behind the riots. The then CM Narendra Modi was also involved. The SIT said that the investigation revealed that there is no truth in the allegations, they are baseless. The SIT has also said in its report that the state government had decided to call in the army in time to control the riots.
what is the whole matter
Before proceeding further, it is important to understand why the SIT’s investigation report is now being argued in the Supreme Court even though the SIT has already submitted the closure report in the matter. In fact, in 2008, the Supreme Court appointed former CBI director R. Of. A five-member special investigation team was formed under the leadership of Raghavan. In 2009, the court also entrusted the SIT with the responsibility of investigating the allegations of Zakia Jafri related to the alleged involvement of then CM Narendra Modi and others in the murder of Ehsan Jafri. After investigation, the SIT had given clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 63 others. The same clean chit has been challenged by Zakia Jafri in the Supreme Court.
Zakia Jafri has leveled serious allegations on Setalvad’s instigation: SIT
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the SIT, told Justice A. M. Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice C. T. Ravikumar told the bench that the original complaint filed by Zakia Jafri in 2006 was 30-40 pages long. It was alleged that the riots took place as part of a larger conspiracy in which leaders of the ruling party, the bureaucracy and the police were also involved. That is, the state itself had turned against its people. Rohatgi said that the list of allegations kept increasing with the passage of time. Many serious allegations were added. The complaint spanned hundreds of pages and a fresh investigation was called for in 2018.
Allegations found baseless in in-depth investigation: SIT
Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court, ‘The complainant (Zakia Jafri) was under the influence of Teesta Setalvad and her NGO. Coming to his provocation, he made such serious allegations. The SIT investigated each and every charge in depth. Trials were recommended against several people who had previously been acquitted. But there was no truth in the allegations of a bigger conspiracy behind the riots. This allegation was made by three tainted police officers- R. NS. Sreekumar, were based on the statements of Rahul Sharma and Sanjeev Bhatt. Rohatgi said the amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, after thoroughly scrutinizing the details of the SIT probe, told the Supreme Court that the testimonies of Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhat were not credible and could not be taken on record.
The state government had called the army on time to control the riots.
A day earlier on Wednesday, the SIT told the Supreme Court that the Narendra Modi government of Gujarat had decided to call the army on time to control the riots. The SIT said that on February 28, 2002, the day the riots broke out, the government decided to call in the army and started the deployment of the army on the same day. The SIT told the court that the state government ministers were present in the police control room on the day of the riots probably because it would have boosted the morale of the police.
Zakia is the wife of former MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots.
Zakia Jafri is the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the riots. On 28 February 2002, a mob of rioters created a ruckus in the Gulberg Society of Ahmedabad. There was stone pelting. Houses were set on fire. In this, 69 people including Ehsan Jafri died.
Zakia has also raised questions on the impartiality of the SIT chief
Zakia Jafri has also raised questions on the impartiality of the SIT chief. Challenging the clean chit given to 64 people, including Modi, Jafri has claimed that the SIT submitted the closure report ignoring some important evidence. He has demanded investigation only against the Special Investigation Team. Jafri’s lawyer Kapil Sibal on Thursday told SIT Chief A.K. Of. Raghavan’s impartiality was questioned saying that after the investigation he was made the High Commissioner of India in Cyprus. He alleged that Raghavan was “rewarded well” in lieu of a clean chit.
Timeline of SIT Investigation
In 2008, the Supreme Court constituted a five-member SIT headed by RK Raghavan to conduct its own supervised investigation into nine riot-related cases. In 2009, the court also asked the SIT to investigate Zakia Jafri’s allegations. The SIT also questioned the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and Zakia Jafri. The SIT submitted its report in February 2011. On the directions of the Supreme Court, the new amicus curiae in the case, Raju Ramachandran, conducted an in-depth investigation of the SIT investigation. He met important characters related to the case including the concerned police officers. In July 2011, Ramachandran submitted his report in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court. On 8 February 2012, the SIT, giving a clean chit to Modi, presented the closure report in the trial court, which was accepted by the court. Against this, Jafri reached the Gujarat High Court. In October 2017, the High Court refused to accept his appeal. Zakia Jafri has reached the Supreme Court against this order of the High Court. At present, this matter is being taken up by Justice A. A 3-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by M. Khanwilkar.