Friday, April 20, 2012

SIT gives clean chit to Modi

No evidence, says probe team; seeks closure
press trust of india

AHMEDABAD, 10 APRIL: In a major relief for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) has given him a clean chit in the post-Godhra Gulberg massacre case and sought its closure as it found no evidence against him.
“According to SIT, no offence has been established against any of the 58 persons listed in Zakia's complaint,” metropolitan magistrate M S Bhatt said in his order today on a batch of petitions in which Ms Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was among 69 persons killed in the Gulberg society carnage, had named Mr Modi and 57 others for alleged criminal conspiracy in the 2002 riots.
The court ordered that a copy of the SIT report and related documents be given to Ms Jafri within 30 days, giving her the right to pursue her private criminal complaint against Mr Modi and others. It will decide whether to accept or reject the closure report after hearing the complainant.
Ms Jafri had filed a complaint against Mr Modi, his ministerial colleagues, top police officials and BJP functionaries, accusing them of involvement in a wider conspiracy in the riots in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The apex court had ordered an inquiry into the complaint filed by her and appointed the SIT, headed by Mr R K Raghavan, to probe it.
Reacting to the SIT's closure report, Mr Jafri said she was “pained”, and vowed to continue her battle for justice, while the BJP said the 2002 riots cannot be used as a “bogey” to sustain the campaign against Mr Modi. Mr Raghavan said the complainant will have an opportunity to contest the findings of the SIT report. “We have done our duty to the best of our abilities,” he said, adding the integrity of the team cannot be questioned.
Mr Raju Ramachandran, appointed by the Supreme Court as amicus curiae (friend of the court), hoped that his independent report on the SIT document will be also given to the complainant. Refusing to disclose the contents of his report, Mr Ramachandran said he has given an “independent assessment” on the SIT report. In the course of its investigations into Zakia's complaint, the SIT had questioned several people, including Mr Modi, who was quizzed for more than nine hours.
The Supreme Court after going through the SIT's report had asked Mr Ramachandran to independently verify the findings. The apex court had after going through both the reports directed the SIT to submit a final report, along with the entire material collected by the it, to the court of the metropolitan magistrate. The SIT submitted its final report on 28 February. Acknowledging that the path ahead was difficult, Ms Jafri said: "Court follows the truth and I have full faith in it.” “It is a huge disappointment as the SIT has filed a closure report, (our) worst fears have come alive,” Ms Teesta Setalvad of the NGO, Citizens for Peace and Justice that is working for the riots victims, said.