The court verdict came as a relief to Narendra Modi who hailed it as triumph of truth, while it puts former IPA officer Sanjiv Bhatt’s credibility to question.
The Bhartiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi now have no hurdles in front of him. A local court on Thursday dismissed a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress leader Ehsaan Jafri, challenging the closure report of a Special Investigation Team giving a clean chit to Modi and 58 others in a case relating to the 2002 communal riots.
“Truth by nature is self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear”- Mahatma Gandhi
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 26, 2013
Ehsaan Jafri was among 69 people killed during the post-Godhra incident riots in Gulbarg Society. His wife Zakia had contended that Modi and others should be tried for their role in the riots conspiracy which had triggered violence across the state.
The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which investigated Jafri’s allegations against Modi and others filed its closure report Feb 8, 2012 saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them. It has also said in its report that the IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was not present in the February 27, 2002 meeting called by Modi to take action against rioters.
Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in which he said he was present during the meeting in which Modi had allegedly instructed police to give the rioters room to “vent out their anger” and to “teach a lesson” to those involved in Godhra train burning incident.
The case was heard by Metropolitan Magistrate B.J. Ganatra where SIT lawyer RA Jamuar argued the case. Zakia in her petition has included the statements made by Bhatt on the alleged instruction given by Modi in that meeting.
During the arguments Zakia’s lawyers claimed that SIT ignored the witnesses and evidence and hurried to file a closer report, rather than allowing the court itself to judge and decide the matter. They claimed that the evidence collected by SIT is enough for the court to take cognizance of the complaint and put Modi to trial. They also demanded further reinvestigation of the case by an independent agency.
On the other hand, SIT in its arguments discarded Zakia’s complaint as “fiction” while stating that Zakia doesn’t remember any of the charges she has levelled against Modi and others. SIT argued that whatever evidence it collected were not enough to prosecute Modi.
“Sanjiv Bhatt says that he attended the meeting. But if he had attended, then he should have informed his senior officer G C Raigar about the developments of the meeting. Raigar has said that Bhatt never told him about any meeting that the latter attended,” Jamuar had argued.
“Also, Bhatt sent a wireless message to IPS officer Rahul Sharma asking him to confirm whether slain minister Haren Pandya was present at the high-level meeting convened by the Chief Minister. If Bhatt was present in the meeting, which is what Zakia Jafri has stated in the protest petition as evidence, then why should he ask Rahul Sharma whether Pandya was present in the meeting or not that night,” Jamuar had said further adding that “When Sharma said Pandya was not present in the meeting on the night of February 27, Bhatt again asked Sharma to verify and confirm whether he was there or not.”
The report and the verdict puts a question mark on Bhatt’s credibility.
Further detail of the order is awaited.
Meanwhile, Zakia Jafri who was waiting for the judgment since morning was seen disappointed. She said that she will keep fighting and move to higher court against the order.
This was the lone case on 2002 riots involving Modi who faces allegations of alleged conspiracy and failing to discharges his duty that led to the statewide riots that killed hundreds of people, mostly from minority community.
Soon after the closure report in September 2011 where SIT said that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Modi, Modi had launched the Sadbhavana Mission fast, purportedly to reach out to the minorities.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and BJP leader Arun Jaitley hailed the judgement. “Fabricated evidence cannot be proved anywhere. Narendra Modi faced an adversity and he has emerged stronger from the adversity. He has won three assembly polls despite these riots been made a poll issue. The judgement by the Gujarat court is a moral victory for Modi and the BJP,” Jaitley said at a press conference in New Delhi.
“Truth always holds together and the false will fall apart. If we go back to the unfortunate incident of the 2002 Gujarat communal riots we will find that the police made large scale arrest during that period and many cases have already been resolved in the court of law. The SIT was formed after the Supreme Court directive in 2006 to examine nine cases including Gulbarg society massacre. The apex court even praised the SIT for its work,” he said.