A few days after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi questioned 'clean chit' to BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in 2002 riots fresh trouble seems to be brewing for the Gujarat chief minister. A 2002 riot victim Zakia Jafri has challenged 'clean chit' to Modi and 59 others in the Gujarat High Court.
Zakia has filed a Criminal Revision Application before the Gujarat High Court challenging the December 2013 verdict of a magisterial court in Ahmedabad rejecting her protest petition seeking to arraign Modi and 59 others on charges including criminal conspiracy, mass murder, arson, tampering with evidence with regard to the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat that had claimed over 1,000 lives over a decade ago. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on March 20.
On December 26 last year Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra accepted the report of special investigation team (SIT) giving clean chit to Modi and others with regard allegation of conspiracy behind the 2002 riots. He had also rejected the plea of Zakia challenging the closure report filed by the SIT claiming that there was no sufficient material evidence to prosecute Modi and 59 other named in her protest petition.
In her petition filed in the Gujarat High Court on March 15, Zakia has argued that metropolitan magistrate had committed a fundamental error in law and on facts in failing to exercise his jurisdiction. She further argued that the magistrate failed to consider the material that established prima facie involvement of Modi and others in 2002 riots. These evidences include phone call records, records showing failure to take preventive measures and not taking into consideration statements of former chief minister Suresh Mehta, suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, ex-DGP R B Sreekumar and serving IPS Rahul Sharma.
Zakia also argued that the SIT had failed in discharging its duty of conducting a free and fair investigation as directed by the Supreme Court that had constituted the team.
Zakia, whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people killed in the Gulbarg society massacre here during the 2002 post-Godhra riots, had filed a petition in April 2013 objecting the SIT's closure report absolving Modi and others of any conspiracy behind the communal riots. After completing its investigation on Zakia's complaint, SIT, on February 8, 2012, had filed the probe report concluding that despite difficulties in obtaining evidence in the case because of the lapse of eight years, whatever material it could gather was not sufficient enough to prosecute those against whom allegations of hatching conspiracy for 2002 riots had been levelled.
Protesting SIT's report, Zakia, on April 15, 2013, filed a petition demanding the rejection of report as well as an order from the court to file charge sheet against Modi and others.
While defending its report and demanding the rejection of Zakia's petition, SIT counsel R S Jamuar had argued that no direct or circumstantial evidence has been found during its investigation which can prima facie support her allegations. SIT, during its submissions and in replies to the issues raised by Zakia, contended that no evidentiary value could be attached to the testimonies given by three IPS officers R B Sreekumar, Sanjeev Bhatt and Rahul Sharma, whom she had cited as witnesses.
SIT also blamed the three officers for holding grudge against the state government and accused them of conspiring to fabricate evidence to 'malign' Modi.
However, Zakia's lawyers maintained that there was enough evidence to prosecute Modi and others for alleged role in the post-Godhra riots.