The Special Investigation Team has just ignored crucial evidence before it though it had everything on record to prove a state-sponsored conspiracy in the 2002 Gujarat riots, reiterated Zakia Jafri, wife of the slain former Congress MP, Ahsan Jafri. Her arguments, in her protest petition against the Supreme Court-appointed SIT giving Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit, concluded in the Ahmedabad metropolitan court on Friday.
The SIT’s lawyers will present their case on September 2.
Zakia’s lawyers argued that right from mobilisation of the ranks of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP ahead of the February 27, 2002 Godhra train attack until after the continuation of anti-Muslim riots across the State, the State government was not only complacent but also took part in them.
Senior lawyers Mihir Desai and Sanjay Parikh pointed out, through as many as 17 sessions of arguments, that the Chief Minister wanted and ensured that the communal sentiment after the train attack not only spread across the State but was accompanied by a violent outrage.
This was particularly why the bodies of the train inferno victims, much against the legal practice, were handed over to VHP general secretary Jaideep Patel, and paraded in Ahmedabad and post mortem was performed in full public view without carrying out any legal identification. The SIT should have gone into this conspiracy angle but it just did not bother, the lawyers said.
The advocates quoted from several reports and statements from senior police officials before the SIT to argue that the Home Department, led by the Chief Minister himself, simply ignored them despite the fact that they indicted the government for fomenting communal trouble.
The lawyers especially relied upon the statements and affidavits of the then Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), R.B. Sreekumar, who had reported that the public speeches of the Chief Minister during his Gujarat Gaurav Yatra were incendiary.
Mr. Desai said that on the seventh day, February 16, 2002, of his taking over as ADGP (Intelligence), Mr. Sreekumar wrote a strong letter to the Home Department, specifically stating that inflammatory pamphlets being distributed by the VHP were further fomenting hatred and division and that the culprits should be prosecuted. The pamphlets carried the VHP’s local address. “The SIT reports just ignored all this evidence and dismissed our allegations in the Zakia Jafri complaint dated June 8, 2006 regarding hate speech. ACS (Home) Ashok Narayan in his statement before the SIT states that when he used to bring up letters from ADGP-Int and DGP K. Chakaravarthi about the nefarious and uncontrollable activities of the VHP and Sangh activists with Narendra Modi the latter was dismissive and casual. Still the SIT dismisses this evidence.”
Zakia’s lawyers also pointed out that upright officers like the then Bhavnagar Superintendent of Police, Rahul Sharma, and Mr. Sreekumar were punished for preventing the riots or reporting against them, besides citing provocative reports by the local vernacular media.