The victims and others concerned with the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat seem to be sceptical about the outcome of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team summoning Chief Minister Narendra Modi for questioning on March 21.
Most Muslim leaders expressed reservations about the summons. They said mere “questioning” of Mr. Modi by the SIT might not mean much for the riot victims. They wondered what would come out of it unless an FIR was filed against Mr. Modi.
Hanif Lakdawala, who runs some voluntary organisations helping the riot victims, said it was a “welcome first step” by the SIT but it would have been “more encouraging” had an FIR been filed against Mr. Modi earlier. He pointed out that in the cases of two other political leaders — the then Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary, Jaideep Patel, and the former Minister of State for Women's Welfare, Mayaben Kodnani — who were accused in the Naroda riot cases, the SIT had filed FIRs against them for which they could be put under arrest. “Why not in Mr. Modi's case,” Mr. Lakdawala wondered.
Tanvir Jaffrey, son of the slain former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffrey, who was among the 69 victims of the Gulberg massacre, did not sound much enthusiastic. “We are holding back our reactions unless an FIR is filed against Mr. Modi,” he said. The massacre cases already had dragged on for a very long time. “Let us see what happens now,” he added.
His mother Zakia Jaffrey, however, was happy over the development. Der aayi par durusta aayi, (it has come late but is in the right direction), she said. Happy over the development, she hoped that the victims would finally get justice.
Rupa Modi, mother of a young boy Azhar, who was among those “missing” in the Gulberg massacre case and was the central figure of the riot-based famous film Parzania, said she felt happy. “All these days we were feeling that the SIT is not doing enough to bring the culprits to the book. Now we feel happy that something is happening.”
Teesta Setalvad, secretary of the Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace, welcomed the summons issued to Mr. Modi but wondered why no FIR had been filed against him.
Asked for his reaction, Cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said: “The BJP government and the Chief Minister have always respected and co-operated with the judiciary and the law enforcing machinery and will continue to do so.”