The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday asked the Advocate-General to inform it by February 15 of the “intentions” of the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial inquiry commission on the Jansangharsh Manch’s demand for summoning Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others for cross-examination in connection with the 2002 riots.
This order comes on the heels of the Supreme Court asking the government on Tuesday to hand over to the Special Investigation Team relevant documents concerning the communal riots, including a copy of the Chief Minister’s “inflammatory speeches.”
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice A.S. Dave told the Advocate-General that if the Nanavati commission — probing the Godhra train carnage and post-Godhra communal riots — failed to take a decision on the Manch’s demand, the court would decide on the issue on merits of law.
The Manch, representing the riot victims before the Nanavati-Mehta commission, sought the summoning Mr. Modi, his then Minister of State for Home Gordhan Jhadafiya, the then Health Minister Ashok Bhatt, and some senior police officers posted in strategic areas which witnessed the riots.
After debating for over two years, the commission last year issued orders asking three personal secretaries of the Chief Minister to communicate details of his telephonic conversation with Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders and the police officers concerned. It was, however, silent on the demand for summoning Mr. Modi and others, and so the Manch filed a petition in the High Court in November last. In a related development, a close aide of Mr. Modi and former Minister of State for Women’s Welfare, Mayaben Kodnani, has been “identified” by a riots witness as having been “among the crowd” which attacked the minorities at Naroda-Patiya in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002.
Appearing before the special court, where the trial of the Naroda-Patiya massacre case was in progress, Amina Belif said she saw Ms. Kodnani with a Hindu militant group which gathered near the Noorani Mosque and also fired towards Muslim houses from a “pistol-like weapon.” Ms. Kodnani later left the scene but only after telling the mob to “keep things going,” pointing towards the Muslim houses on the other side, Ms Belif said.