The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) questioned the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home, Gordhan Jhadaphia, on the 2002 communal riots in the State.

Mr. Jhadaphia was holding the charge of the Home Department under the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who held the home portfolio during the riots.

Mr. Jhadaphia declined to give details of what he was asked and the replies given by him but confirmed that he was called by the SIT for questioning. He was summoned on the basis of a petition filed in the Supreme Court by Zakia Jafri, the widow of the former Congress member of the Lok Sabha, Ehsan Jafri, who was among those killed in the Gulberg Society massacre in Ahmedabad.

Ms. Jafri in her petition had named 63 accused, including Mr. Modi and Mr. Jhadaphia, and had urged the Supreme Court to order a fresh probe into the role of the accused listed. The apex court accordingly directed the SIT to “look into” the matter following which it already has questioned Ms. Jafri and the Mumbai-based social activist, Teesta Setalvad, besides Mr. Jhadaphia.

Significant development

Questioning Mr. Jhadaphia is considered to be very significant because of the fact that the former minister of state for home has since become a sworn enemy of Mr. Modi and has also parted company with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form his own party — Mahagujarat Janata Party — which put up candidates against the BJP and the Congress both in the 2007 State Assembly elections and in the recent parliamentary elections.

Except that he was bound by the oath of office and secrecy he had taken as a member of the Modi cabinet, Mr. Jhadaphia would no longer have the political compulsions to hide facts to protect the Chief Minister.

Manch’s application

For the same reason, the Jansangharsh Manch, which is representing the riot victims before the G. T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission probing the Godhra train carnage and the post-Godhra communal riots in the State, has submitted an application before the commission for summoning Mr. Jhadaphia, Mr. Modi and some others for cross examination.