NEW DELHI: More than nine years after the Supreme Court appointed SIT absolved then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and others from the alleged larger conspiracy behind 2002 post-Godhra riots, murdered Congress MP’s wife Zakia Jafri on Wednesday attempted to revive the case by seeking fresh probe into the conspiracy and saying that accountability will reaffirm faith in rule of law.
The SC had asked the SIT in 2009 to look into Jafri’s 2006 complaint alleging larger conspiracy involving politicians, bureaucrats and police leading to a free run to rioteers after 59 kar sevaks were killed in the burning down of Sabarmati express at Godhra. The riots raged for three days leading to loss of hundreds of lives before the Army was called to bring order. The SIT headed by former CBI Director R K Raghavan in 2012 had submitted a report to the SC saying there was no prosecutable evidence against Modi.
Appearing before a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, senior advocate Kapil Sibal made a spirited presentation traversing the nook and corners of voluminous evidence on record and said, “the most disconcerting part of the investigation is that the SIT did not even take into account the Tehelka sting operation which gave clear indication of a possible larger conspiracy. The sting report was authenticated by the CBI on orders of NHRC. The same was used to convict accused in other riot cases. But, the SIT did not consider this as evidence to probe a larger conspiracy.”
“The SIT did not arrest people. It did not record the statement of the accused. Whatever was told to it by the accused was believed as gospel truth and further investigation was not taken up. Was the SIT part of the conspiracy to gloss over the investigation to give clean chit,” Sibal asked.
He drew a parallel between the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi to the 2002 Gujarat riots. “Because of the shoddy investigation carried out by Delhi police, even after 37 years the prosecution in the anti-Sikh riot cases is still going on. When no proper investigation is carried out, then such a situation arises. This is a test case for the Supreme Court to tell the world that India’s secular credentials as well as its faith in rule of law is intact,” he said.
He said when the 56 bodies of the Godhra train carnage incident reached Ahmedabad, it was natural that communal passion would be on the high. “Why did the administration and police not declare curfew and allow enraged mobs to take the law into their own hands? Why was the post-mortem of the bodies conducted on Godhra railway platform? Why were the bodies handed over to a VHP strongman? Who was making these decisions? Why was the Army called in after allowing rioteers two full days to run amok? Why were the police not pressed into action despite repeated messages from the ground? All these questions needed to be asked by the SIT. But, it believed the accused persons and did not carry out any further probe. The entire chain of events, recorded meticulously in various riot cases, needs to be investigated thoroughly,” Sibal said. Arguments would continue on Thursday.
Sibal said upright police officers like R B Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma and Sanjiv Bhat, who raised questions about handling of riots by the political class, are booked in various cases. “The SIT was tasked to investigate Jafri’s complaint. But, it did not follow the procedure established under criminal procedure code to go about its court-mandated task to unearth the larger conspiracy,” Sibal said and cast aspersions on the neutrality of the Raghavan headed probe team.

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