Thursday, December 26, 2013

Major relief to Narendra Modi in riot case

File photo of Narendra Modi (Pic:
NEW DELHI (AA) – Narendra Modi, Gujarat chief minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 general elections, got a major relief when a court in Gujarat ruled on Thursday that he won’t face charges of collusion in a 2002 riot case.
In the riot 68 Muslims including a former Congress lawmaker were burnt alive on February 28, 2002 in Gulberg housing society in Ahmedabad a day after 58 Hindu volunteers of a right-wing organization died in a train fire at Godhra allegedly set up by a Muslim mob.
The petition against Modi was filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress lawmaker, challenging the closure report of Supreme Court-appointed SIT (Special Investigation Team) which gave clean chit to Modi in 2002 post-Godhra riot case.
In a one-line ruling, Judge BJ Ganatra said the court accepts SIT report in the Gulberg society case maintaining that Ms. Jafri can appeal the verdict in a higher court. 
Reacting to the court verdict, a weeping Jafri told a private news channel that she was “saddened by the order but not disheartened”. Jafri said that she will appeal the court order in a high court within a month. 
In her petition, Jafri had argued that Gulberg massacre was a “cold-blooded conspiracy” by Modi and 58 others to facilitate state-wide Hindu-Muslim communal violence. She also claimed that her late husband had made frantic calls to police and even Modi who refused to send help.
Arun Jaitley, lawyer and senior BJP leader, reacted to the verdict saying “truth has prevailed”.
“Truth has prevailed. The conspiracy and falsehood to implicate shri Narendra Modi in an offence stands exposed,” Jaitley wrote on his Twitter page.
“Modi goes into the 2014 campaign untainted by propaganda. The verdict has proved that propaganda can never be a substitute for truth,” he wrote. 
Sanjeev Bhatt, former senior police officer, who gave testimony against Modi to Supreme Court-appointed SIT termed Thursday’s verdict as “miscarriage of justice”. 
“I think justice hasn’t been delivered to the families who suffered in 2002 riots,” Bhatt said, whose testimony against Modi was rejected by the court. 
Bhatt, a suspended senior Gujarat police officer, had claimed that as chief minister Modi urged officials to look other way as rioters attacked Muslim neighbourhoods.
More than a 1000 people died, most of them Muslims, in Gujarat 2002, one of the worst communal violence of Independent India.
Supreme Court had appointed SIT to probe Jafri’s allegations which filed a final report on February 8, 2012 saying there was no “prosecutable evidence” against Modi and 58 others. 
In 2010, SIT had interrogated Modi for over nine hours.  
SIT had defended its investigation terming Jafri’s protest petition as a “piece of fiction”. 
Interestingly, senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran, who was appointed as an ‘amicus curiae’ by Supreme Court had submitted a report to the top court saying there appears to be enough grounds for offences to be made against Modi and he can be booked under sections that relate to “promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and acts prejudicial to (the) maintenance of harmony”.

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