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Court upholds SIT clean chit to the then chief minister of Gujarat and senior bureaucrats but says petitioner can move the SC

The Gujarat High Court, on Thursday (October 5), refused to accede to a petition which had asked for the inclusion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 59 others, including senior police officers and bureaucrats, as accused for being party to a “conspiracy” that led to the 2002 post-Godhra riots and killings.

The high court’s Justice Sonia Gokani, however, allowed the petition to be moved before the Supreme Court.

The petition was placed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri. Zakia’s petition pertains to the massacre that happened in Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg society during the 2002 post-Godhra riots. Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was hacked to death by the Hindu rioters along with 67 others– all Muslims – at the Gulbrag Society on February 28, 2002.

Zakia has maintained that the brutal murder of her husband and others at the society was done at the behest of the then Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi. She and her family members have earlier said that numerous calls made by Ehsan Jafri to the chief minister’s office seeking security for the society hours before the rioters reached there had gone unheeded.

Thursday’s verdict of the high court was against a criminal review petition filed by NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace’s (led by activist Teesta Setalvad) which had challenged a magistrate’s order that upheld the SIT clean chit to Modi and others. The allegations refuted by the magistrate were of a “larger criminal conspiracy” behind the riots.

The SIT’s deposition before the high court said that its probe was monitored by the Supreme Court and that its report was generally accepted by all. The court decided that there was no need for further investigation, especially regarding the “conspiracy” angle.

Zakia Jafri’s counsel Mihir Desai had pointed out to the court that the magistrate never considered rejecting the report or ordering a fresh probe, neither did it consider signed statements of witnesses. He also pointed out that submissions of key witnesses such as (former IPS officers) Sanjiv Bhatt, R.B. Sreekumar and Rahul Sharma were not even considered, neither was Tehelka magazine’s sting operation result.

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