2002 Gujarat riots: Gujarat HC rejects Zakia Jafri’s plea against Narendra Modi2 min read . Updated: 06 Oct 2017, 01:26 AM IST
Gujarat HC rejects Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging a clean chit given by Supreme Court-appointed SIT to then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and others
Ahmedabad: The Gujarat high court on Thursday rejected a petition by former lawmaker Ehsan Jafri’s widow challenging the clean chit given by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) in 2012 to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and other top politicians and bureaucrats in the 2002 riots that swept the state.
Petitioner Zakia Jafri’s husband, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among 69 people killed in Gulbarg housing society in Ahmedabad during the rioting. In her petition, filed in 2014, she alleged a larger conspiracy in the riots, one of the worst seen in India.
Ehsan Jafri’s killing was possibly the most high-profile of the Gujarat riots cases. Zakia Jafri first petitioned the Supreme Court in 2008 alleging a wider conspiracy. In response, the apex court, which had already ordered an SIT to be constituted to reinvestigate 2002 riots related cases in Gujarat, told SIT to look into Jafri’s complaint.
In 2011, the apex court referred the Gulbarg Society massacre to the local district magistrate’s court since it was a local police matter. In 2012, the SIT submitted its report which gave a clean chit to Modi and submitted it to the local magistrate’s court, which accepted the report.
Jafri had challenged the report and sought reinvestigation which was rejected by the court that said it was not in its powers to direct SIT to reinvestigate.
In 2014 Jafri went to the high court challenging the clean chit given by the lower court based on the SIT report and Thursday’s verdict is the court’s response to that petition.
The high court while rejecting Jafri’s allegation of a larger conspiracy, however, allowed her to challenge the local court’s decision that it had no power to direct the SIT to further probe the matter.
Jafri and rights activist Teesta Setalvad’s NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace blamed Modi and 57 others for their alleged inaction during the Gujarat riots.
Meanwhile, separately, a special court in June 2016 found 24 people guilty in connection with the 2002 Gulbarg Society massacre. While 11 were convicted for murder, 13 were found guilty of lesser offences, including rioting. The court acquitted 36 people, including a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor and a police inspector, while holding that the Gulbarg Society massacre “was not a pre-planned conspiracy".
The SIT had, during the course of a trial that began in 2009, originally argued that the Gulbarg Society massacre would have been pre-planned conspiracy as the rioters had targeted the mainly Muslim housing society.
The defence, however, had refuted the conspiracy theory and claimed that the mob resorted to violence only after Jafri fired in the air with a gun.