Friday, April 20, 2012

What the verdict means for stakeholders

What the verdict means for stakeholders
DNA 11APR2012

The SC-appointed SIT in its closure report in Gulberg massacre case says it didn't find any evidence against Modi, but Gujarat CM's troubles may not be over
Team DNA
Modi: Will INTERPRET THE ORDER his way
To put it mildly, this is good news for the controversial chief minister. Though not technically, this declaration of the court will be publicized as a 'clean chit' for Modi. His already busy spin doctors will get a fresh dose of adrenaline. Politically, this is a big boost. It pretty much cements a bigger national role for him within the BJP or the much touted BJP's projected PM candidate in 2014 elections. 
Zakia Jafri had listed him as an accused in her complaint in Supreme Court as amongst those who abetted the crime along with 61 others.  
He was accused no 1. Zakia had included Modi in her complaint on the grounds that her husband former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri had personally informed Modi on the phone of an impending attack when the mob was closing in. He had sought immediate police protection to control the mob, which Zakia claims Modi could have immediately provided considering he was the chief minister and one instruction from him would have saved 69 lives.  
It was after Ehsan supposedly spoke to Modi that the mob killed 69 people in Gulberg Society.  
Legally speaking, this is not clean chit for Modi, but popularly, Modi will well make sure it is perceived that way in every corner of the world. A sample was made available last year in September as Sadbhavana fasts were kicked off when the SC merely transferred the Gulberg case to metropolitan court in Gujarat for trial after SIT submitted its interim report.  
Details of the report were not available, but speculations floated that it was a 'clean chit' to Modi. He thrived on it politically, and how! The SIT's report is only about the allegation of abetting this particular attack on Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad. It does not have any bearing on the larger generic allegation of a chief minister failing his Raj Dharm (as articulated by then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee) to control communal violence in the state under his rule.  
That allegation and debate continues. A 'clean chit' in the Gulberg massacre case is somehow being made out to altogether exonerate him of any responsibility for the violence which engulfed the state for months in 2002. 
Unfortunately, in publicizing this minor victory, the larger debate will be doused. Voices from sections of activists and media will be seen struggling to get the Modi establishment to answer this question as to how can over 2,000 people of a minority community be killed in rampant violence going on for months, and the man in command of law and order of the state not be held at all responsible? 
The fine print in fact is that the SIT report may not have found Modi and 62 others 'innocent'. It has seemingly only given them the benefit of doubt in absence of 'evidence'.  
In retrospect, Zakia's bold complaint and the whole process of an independent inquiry by Supreme Court monitored SIT has turned out to be the biggest irony. Because SIT could not establish a criminal conspiracy by Modi, this SC-monitored 'independent' investigation has inadvertently ended up giving him an expansive relief from shouldering any responsibility or guilt whatsoever. This he would not have conclusively established even after another decade of heated debates and frantic international media management.  
Zakia: ANTOHER  
JOURNEY just begun 
This development is not the end of the road for her and other complainants but the beginning of another tiresome labyrinthine judicial journey for 73-year-old Zakia.  
The SC order mandates the court to hear them before any closure report is filed.  
The metropolitan court has to take into consideration the report filed by amicus curie Raju Ramachandran. If the court goes against SIT's findings, Modi and company will go to higher courts. And if the court upholds the SIT's findings even after hearing the complainants all over again, Zakia and company will go to higher courts.  
Other cases 
This report of SIT may not have much bearing on other cases as Modi is technically not an 'accused' in any of the other eight cases. Local courts have already given verdict in three other cases till now. Verdict is expected in five other cases in next few months.  
--Team DNA