Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ahmedabad, April 10: Supreme Court-appointed investigators have given Narendra Modi and 57 others a clean chit in the Gulbarg Society massacre and recommended closing the case based on a riot widow's private complaint, a local court said today.
Metropolitan magistrate M.S. Bhatt, who has to decide whether to accept or reject the special investigation team's (SIT) closure report after hearing out complainant Zakia Jafri, set the proceedings for May 10.
He ordered that a copy of the report and related documents be given within 30 days to Zakia, who has accused Modi of deliberately allowing a mob to murder her husband, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, and 68 others.
A “pained” Zakia and her son Tanvir said they had feared just such a report from the SIT but would “fight it out”, while the BJP said the 2002 riots can no longer be used as a “bogey” to target the Gujarat chief minister.
“According to SIT, no offence has been established against any of the 58 persons listed in Zakia's complaint,” Bhatt said in his order on a batch of petitions in which Zakia has accused Modi and several ministers, bureaucrats, police officers and BJP and VHP activists of criminal conspiracy.
The Supreme Court had in 2009 asked the SIT to look into Zakia's complaint. Last September, it left it to the local court to decide whether the accused should be prosecuted, but made it clear that the case cannot be closed without hearing Zakia.
The apex court had passed its order after going through the SIT's preliminary report as well as an “independent assessment” of the findings by amicus curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramachandran.
Ramachandran today declined to reveal the contents of his submission which, according to media reports, recommended Modi's prosecution on several grounds. He, however, hoped his report too would be given to Zakia who, he said, had the right to file a “protest petition” in court.
The SIT, which questioned Modi for over nine hours in March 2010, submitted its final report to the magistrate's court on March 15.
Social activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been working with the riot victims, described the SIT report as “a huge disappointment” and said: “Our worst fears have come alive.”
SIT chief R.K. Raghavan, a former CBI director, said “we have done our duty to the best of our abilities” and argued that his team's integrity should not be questioned.
Zakia said: “In the court of the Lord above, justice can get delayed but not denied. I am sure that truth will come out and I will get justice. The court follows the truth and I have full faith in it.”
Zakia has alleged that when the mob attacked the Gulbarg Society housing complex, her husband had made frantic calls to the police and the chief minister's office but no help came from them. She accuses Modi of using abusive language while talking to her husband.
BJP leader Yatin Oza described the SIT report as “a big slap” on the face of those who have been criticising Modi “at the behest of our opponents”.