– Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
The Gujarat High Court today rejected Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging a lower court order upholding SIT’s clean chit to then chief minister Narendra Modi and others on allegations of larger conspiracy in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots. The high court, however, allowed Zakia to approach higher forums for further investigation in the case.
Zakia, the wife of slain former MP Ehsan Jafri, and activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace had moved the criminal review petition against a magistrate’s order upholding the clean chit given by the special investigation team (SIT) to Modi and others regarding the allegations of a “larger criminal conspiracy” behind the riots.
The petition demanded that Modi and 59 others – including senior police officers and bureaucrats – be made accused for allegedly being part of a conspiracy which facilitated the riots. It had also sought the high court’s direction for fresh investigation into the matter.
Ehsan Jafri, a Congress leader, was among 68 people who were killed at the Gulberg Society here when a mob attacked it on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident which set off riots in the state. The SIT’s closure report, filed on February 8, 2012, gave a clean chit to Modi and others. In December 2013, the metropolitan magistrate’s court had rejected Jafri’s petition against the report, after which she moved to the high court in 2014.
Last year, a special court in Ahmedabad convicted 24 attackers for the massacre that the court described as the “darkest day in the history of civil society.” But the court, which also acquitted 36 people including a BJP corporator in this case, underlined that there was no larger conspiracy.
The verdict was seen as another setback for the Jafris, who alleged that people involved in the massacre were allowed to get away. “They must get the punishment as they killed people and destroyed their families. I saw them doing it with my own eyes,” Ms Jafri said.
(Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior journalist based an Ahmedabad. He is Editor of Gujarat Siyasat.)