SIT, which gave Modi a clean chit, itself behaved like a conspirator, counsel tells court

Zakia Jaffry, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffry who was killed in the 2002 riots, has alleged that the then Gujarat Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Ashok Narayan, brought to the notice of Narendra Modi that Hindu outfits distributed incendiary pamphlets among crowds when bodies of the Godhra train burning victims were being paraded in Ahmedabad but the Chief Minister took it casually.

During the last session of arguments in the court of a metropolitan magistrate here on Friday evening, Zakia’s counsel Mihir Desai produced several pamphlets allegedly distributed by the Hindu outfits appealing to the community to socially and economically boycott people from the minority community.

Mr. Desai claimed that though Special Investigation Team member A.K. Malhotra produced the contents of the pamphlets in his first report before the Supreme Court, the team dropped them in the final report.

According to counsel, these pamphlets also reached Mr. Ashok Narayan, who even told the SIT that he had discussed them with the Chief Minister but Mr. Modi took it casually. As for the SIT, it “never bothered to take these accounts seriously and did not probe these pamphlets. This smacks of a conspiracy.”

Through nine days of persistent arguments against the SIT that gave Mr. Modi a clean chit, Mr. Desai alleged that it behaved like a conspirator and deliberately glossed over a wealth of official evidence which suggested State complicity in the incidents.

Counsel produced document after document from the SIT’s own records to point out that there was a conspiracy to whip up communal frenzy in the State right from the day the Sabarmati Express train was attacked, killing 58 persons on February 27, 2002.

He told the court that the first decision at the controversial late-night February 27 meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence, presided over by Mr. Modi to take the bodies of those killed in the train incident to Ahmedabad, and cremate unidentified bodies after a massive funeral procession, besides parading the dead were clear indicators that there was a plan to spread the outrage outside Godhra and across Gujarat. At the meeting, held in the presence of senior administration and police officials, the latter were asked to let happen a backlash to the Godhra incident.

And all hell broke loose right the next day (February 28) when major targeted massacres occurred in Gulberg Society, Naroda Patia and Naroda Gam in Ahmedabad. Mr. Desai said the SIT had huge evidence to link up the series of events but simply ignored all of it.

In both its reports — one filed by Mr. Malhotra before the Supreme Court on May 12, 2010, and the final report dated February 8, 2012 — the SIT deceived both the court and its amicus curiae as the team concealed vital evidence collected by it, whether it was in the form of Police Control Room (PCR) records or the statements of the accused and witnesses, counsel alleged.

Mr. Desai displayed documents to suggest how “frantic PCR messages warning of bloodthirsty mobilisation [of Sangh Parivar cadres] as corpses of the Godhra victims were cynically brought to Ahmedabad in a bid to unleash hate and violence on the streets” were ignored first by the senior administration and then by the SIT.

“Even on the serious issue of hate speech and poison spread by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a collaborator and conspirator with the ruling BJP, both Mr. Malhotra and IPS official and SIT member Himanshu Shukla simply not investigated the critical documents provided by the former Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), R.B. Sreekumar.”

Mr. Sreekumar, in a letter on April 16, 2002, recommended prosecution of “the authors and publishers of this venom” but the Home Department headed by Mr. Modi simply ignored the suggestion. “The SIT simply did not investigate the issue,” counsel asserted.

Mr. Desai said the “investigation records tell a gory story. In anticipation of the procession of VHP activists, known for their rabid anti-minority speeches and mobilisations accompanying the bodies from Godhra,” panic messages demanding bandobust and protection were sent from the local police authorities anticipating trouble. But there was no response from either the DGP’s office or the Commissioner of Police’s office.” Counsel said the SIT had ignored all of this.