Friday, April 20, 2012

SIT clears Modi but CM can't claim victory yet

SIT clears Modi but CM can't claim victory yet
DNA 11APR2012

Case still not over as Zakia Jafri has the right to appeal against the SITconclusions
Team DNA l Ahmedabad
It is still too early to say who will have the last laugh: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi or slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri's widow Zakia.  
But Modi did have a smile, if not a laugh, on Tuesday when the Supreme Court-appointed SIT (special investigation team) said in its report that it did not find any evidence to register an FIR against the 58 people, including Modi, listed in Zakia's complaint.  
Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people killed in the Gulberg society carnage on February 27, 2002. In her complaint, Zakia had accused Modi and 57 others, including BJP leaders and government officials, of stoking communal violence and ensuring that no help could reach Jafri or the others when a mob attacked his home and set him on fire.  
Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate MS Bhatt passed an interim order on Tuesday asking the SIT to give a copy of its final investigation report and documents running up to 20,000 pages to Zakia, the complainant, within 30 days. “As per the Supreme Court order and also the principle of natural justice, she [Zakia] can be heard before taking any legal action on the SIT's closure report,” the metropolitan magistrate said.  
The court was hearing petitions filed by lawyers of Zakia, NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace, and others seeking a copy of the SIT's report.  
The SIT recorded the statements of hundreds of people and questioned Modi for almost nine hours as part of its investigation. The team submitted a 550-page report in the Supreme Court. The court had then asked amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran to verify the SIT's findings independently.  
The amicus curiae visited Gujarat and recorded statements of several people, including that of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, regarding Modi's role during the 2002 riots. Though his report is yet to be made public, it was provided to the SIT. Now, speculation is rife that he has implicated Modi for giving provocative speeches during the riots.  
Following the directions of the apex court, the SIT, headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan, submitted its report to the metropolitan magistrate's court on February 28. On September 12, 2011, the Supreme Court had said that the metropolitan court would have to issue notices to the complainant, Zakia, if the SIT did not find enough evidence against any person named in her complaint and provide her with the SIT report. And this had to be done before taking a final decision on the SIT's “closure” report, the SC had said.  
Refusing to disclose the contents of his report, Ramachandran said he had given an “independent assessment” on the SIT report. He said that he was hopeful Zakia would get a copy of his report. The complainant has a right to file a “protest petition” in court, he said. 
Reacting to the SIT's report, Zakia said she was “pained” and vowed to continue her battle for justice. “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.” She said the “court follows the truth and I have full faith in it”. 
Tanvir, son of Eshan Jafri, said it was the SIT and not the court that said there is no evidence against Modi. “The SIT judgment (sic) is not of any value if the magistrate decides against it. It may take time but we are going to fight it out,” he said. 
The BJP, however, said the “vilification campaign” against Modi should stop. “No evidence against Narendra Modi… A big relief for us,” Sushma Swaraj posted on Twitter. 
Party general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was a “campaign” to frame Modi in the riots.