Manas Dasgupta

AHMEDABAD:The victims of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat seem to be sceptical of the outcome of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team summoning Chief Minister Narendra Modi for questioning on March 21.

Most minority leaders said mere “questioning” of Mr. Modi by the SIT would not mean much to the victims. What would come of it unless an FIR was filed against him, they wondered.

Hanif Lakdawala, who runs some voluntary organisations helping the riot victims, said summons 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 against 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 — in the Naroda riot cases, the SIT 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 former Congress MP, Ehsan Jaffrey, who was among the 69 victims of the Gulberg massacre, did not sound much enthusiastic. “We will reserve our comments 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.”

However, his mother Zakia Jaffrey, whose petition before the Supreme Court led to the SIT summons to Mr. Modi, was happy. Der aayi par durusta aayi, (it has come late but is in the right direction), she said and hoped that the victims would finally get justice.

Said Rupa Modi, mother of a young boy Azhar, who was among those “missing” in the Gulberg massacre case and central figure in the film Parzania, based on the riots: “All these days we were feeling that the SIT was not doing enough to bring the culprits to book. Now we feel happy that something is happening.”

Teesta Setalvad, secretary of the Mumbai-based Citizens for Justice and Peace, welcomed the summoning of Mr. Modi but wondered why no FIR was 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 cooperated with the judiciary and the law enforcing machinery and will continue to do so.”

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