In a major relief to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Ahmedabad metropolitan court on Thursday rejected the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri and endorsed the closure report of Special Investigation Team (SIT) that gave a clean chit to the chief minister for his alleged role in the 2002 communal riots.
The protest petition was filed by Zakia — widow of then Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was burnt alive by a mob at Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002 — in April 2013 for charge sheeting Modi along with 59 others for their role in the riots conspiracy which had triggered violence across the state.
The verdict, however, is expected to give a major political boost to the BJP and Modi, who is fighting hard to erase the taint of the riots that claimed over 1,000 lives.
“This court believes that the state government undertook necessary process and took efforts to control law and order as per the requirement of the situation. This court cannot decide on whether they were enough on basis of their moral and principle duty….it is quite natural that not all people can be satisfied with the efforts of those in power. It is also natural that they express their displeasure towards it. This court agrees with the SIT report that Modi took enough efforts in short time after Godhra carnage to see that law and order situation does not deteriorate further and remained peaceful. Amicus curiae has also supported this conclusion and mentioned about these efforts in his report,” the court said in its order.
“There is not enough material on record to support allegations against the accused persons that can satisfy this court,” it added.
About the allegations made by two suspended IPS officers RB Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhatt, metropolitan magistrate BJ Ganatra in his judgement made it clear that their testimonies are unreliable. “To initiate criminal proceedings against somebody, the court has to take into consideration the material on record. Bhatt and Sreekumar’s revelations do not prima facie appear trustworthy,” court said.
“The details revealed by Bhatt do not get any substantiation from anywhere and hence, his claim that he was present in the meeting and allegations against Modi do not prima facie appear valid,” it added.
The Supreme Court-appointed SIT — which investigated Jafri’s allegations against Modi along with others — filed its closure report on February 8, 2012 saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.
In the protest petition, a case was made that there is large conspiracy behind the riots. Putting both theories aside, the court ruled that train burning incident was not pre-planned by government office bearers and it cannot be concluded that it was abetted by them.
“State ordered army to be deployed in time. Narendra Modi addressed both the communities on Doordarshan and appealed for peace. It shows that the police and security forces were deployed to control the law and order situation in the state. In such circumstances, the act cannot be interpreted as conspiracy or abetment. Court does not agree that Modi did not take positive steps to control riots. If required, curfew was also clamped. In its closure report, SIT has elaborately dealt with this aspect and court agrees with it,” said the court order.
Truth alone triumphs: Modi
“Truth alone triumphs!” This is how Narendra Modi reacted on Thursday to an Ahmedabad court’s verdict rejecting a protest petition filed against the clean chit given to him by the Supreme Court- appointed SIT in the 2002 communal riots. “Satyamev Jayete! truth alone triumphs,” Modi tweeted on micro-blogging site Twitter.
Zakia to appeal in higher court
Ahmedabad: Zakia Jafri on Thursday said she was not disheartened after the verdict and would appeal against it.
“What the judge said I listened, but I am not going to be disheartened by it and will take my fight to higher courts,” Jafri, who broke down after the judge pronounced his verdict, told reporters.
Zakia’s husband Ehsan Jafri was among 68 people massacred during the Gulbarg society riots.