Zakia alleges conspiracy, SIT claims it is ‘not a full-fledged investigating agency’

Lawyers for the SIT said it was looking into only nine riot cases of February 27 and 28 as per the Supreme Court orders. Zakia Jafri's lawyer then asked why the panel spent 20 pages examining Mr. Sreekumar, who was made ADGP (Intelligence) only in April 2002.

Updated - July 23, 2016 10:01 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2013 12:10 pm IST - Ahmedabad:

Lawyers for the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) that probed Zakia Jafri’s omnibus complaint against Narendra Modi and others, said in a metropolitan court here on Monday that it (the SIT) was not a full-fledged investigating agency but a small team with a limited brief to examine only nine cases of violence that occurred on February 27 and 28, 2002.

On Tuesday, continuing his presentation, Ms. Jafri’s lawyer made further averments, backed by statements of police officials to SIT as well as the National Commission of Minorities, to argue that there was an anti-Muslim conspiracy in Gujarat in 2002.

SIT advocate R.S. Jamuar on Monday lost his temper in the course of arguments by Ms. Jafri’s lawyer, Mihir Desai. Mr. Desai argued that SIT had given a closure report in the Jafri complaint, even though vital evidence was available to nail the offenders. In support of his claim, he read out from testimonies given to SIT by senior police officials. At this, Mr. Jamuar got agitated and said: “The SIT is not an investigating agency; it only looked into nine riot cases of February 27 and 28 that the Supreme Court asked it to.” Mr. Desai retaliated by asking if that meant that SIT would not even examine if there was a conspiracy in the violence as alleged by Ms. Jafri in her complaint.

Mr. Desai read out a statement by then Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Maniram corroborating a series of affidavits filed by then Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) R.B. Sreekumar claiming that he had received “illegal instructions” from Mr. Modi.

The instructions, Mr. Desai said, included tapping the phone lines of senior Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela with a view to implicating him in the communal violence in the State. Mr. Sreekumar had said in his affidavits that he had no such information about Mr. Vaghela. Mr. Sreekumar had maintained a personal conscience register of all the oral instructions given to him by his seniors, including the Chief Minister.

In his December 18, 2009 statement made to SIT, Mr. Maniram had said: “The communal riots continued during the months of March and April, 2002 in the whole of Gujarat. It was sometime in the first week of May 2002 that Shri K.P.S. GilI, former DGP of Punjab, was appointed as an Adviser to the Chief Minister. Shri K.P.S. Gill held a meeting on 4-5-2002 at C.R.P.F. camp which was attended to by the DGP Shri K. Chakravarthi, Shri P.C. Pande, the then CP, Ahmedabad, Shri R.B. Sreekumar, the then Addl. DG (Int.), Shri M.K. Tandon, Jt. CP, Sector-II, Ahmedabad City and myself.”

He added, “In this meeting, Shri K.P.S. Gill reviewed law & order situation in the State. The DGP and the Commissioner of Police gave their assessments of the current situation as normal due to effective police action and painted a rosy picture about law & order situation in the State. I informed Shri Gill that the tension continued to prevail in Ahmedabad City among the Hindus and Muslims. I further pointed out to Shri Gill that officers who were responsible for not preventing the riots resulting in loss of life and property in their jurisdiction should be immediately transferred irrespective of their status and good officers posted in there back. I also mentioned it to Shri Gill that wherever effective officers had been posted, the law & order situation was under control. Shri R.B. Sreekumar, the then Addl. DG, (Int.) fully supported me and endorsed my views.”

The SIT lawyer dismissed this as irrelevant to the case, arguing that the Supreme Court had only asked the team to look into incidents of February 27 and 28 and nothing beyond this. Mr. Desai countered this by pointing out that SIT had questioned Mr. Sreekumar at length (20 pages of the SIT report being devoted to the examination) even though the latter became ADGP (Intelligence) only on April 9, 2002.

Mr. Desai concluded his day’s arguments by pointing out that there were three issues before the court. One, the violence was a product of a conspiracy hatched at the highest level. Two, those in power aided and abetted the violence that continued for months. Three, public servants who were supposed to discharge their duties objectively failed to do so.

On Tuesday, Mr. Desai also revealed the details of the Chief Minister’s speech of September 9, 2002, at Becharaji in Mehsana district in North Gujarat which, as reported by Mr. Sreekumar, was incendiary and communal. Mr. Modi had said, “……. then what is paining them? Since, we [BJP] are here, we brought water in Sabarmati during the month of Shravan, when you are there, you can bring it in the month of Ramzan [the holy month of Muslims]. When we brought water in the month of Shravan, you feel bad. When we spend money for the development of Becharaji also, you feel bad. What brother, should we run relief camps? [referring to relief camps for riot-affected Muslims]. Should I start children producing centres there, i.e., relief camps? We want to achieve progress by pursuing the policy of family planning with determination. We are five and our 25! [Amepanch, Amara pachiss — referring to Muslim polygamy]. On whose name such a development is pursued? Can’t Gujarat implement family planning? Whose inhibitions are coming in our way? Which religious sect is coming in the way? ...”

Mr. Sreekumar was transferred after he sent the speech to the National Commission of Minorities.

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