The Gujarat High Court has rejected a petition filed by Zakia Jafri challenging a lower court order that upheld the special investigation team’s (SIT) clean chit to Narendra Modi and other bureaucrats in cases relating to the Gujarat riots of 2002. Zakia is the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed by a baying mob during the Gulbarg Society massacre.
PM Modi was then the chief minister of the state and has been alleged to be part of a “larger criminal conspiracy” behind the riots.
Zakia’s plea, filed by activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, demanded that Modi and 59 others – including senior police officers and bureaucrats – be made accused for facilitating the riots and asked for a fresh probe into the case.
The magistrate, while accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report (filed in February 2012), did not even consider options such as rejecting the report or ordering a fresh probe, according to Jafri’s lawyer Mihir Desai.
“The lower court had ignored Supreme Court guidelines and did not consider the signed statements of witnesses which suggested that there was a conspiracy,” he argued.
The magistrate also ignored submissions of key witnesses such as (former IPS officers) Sanjiv Bhatt, RB Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma, and ignored the findings of Tehelka magazine’s sting operation, Desai reportedly told the high court.
The riots could have been prevented, and certain ministers, police officers and bureaucrats abetted the violence, he alleged. Only 24 people have been convicted for the massacre till now.