2002 Gujarat riots: SIT failed to probe properly, ignored proof it was given, Zakia counsel tells SC

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Zakia Jafri, said: “there was to be an investigation…. If there is no investigation, what was the purpose of the Supreme Court constituting the SIT?”

Zakia Jafri, wife of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed during 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, on Wednesday contended that the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT), whose closure report gave a clean chit to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and others in riot-related incidents, had not properly investigated the matter and even ignored evidence given to it.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Jafri, told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that the SIT “never seized any phone, never examined Call Data Records…never checked why police was standing by, never checked how bombs were manufactured…”

The “fact of matter is”, Sibal told the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, “there was to be an investigation…. If there is no investigation, what was the purpose of the Supreme Court constituting the SIT?”

The “most disconcerting evidence is the sting operation. It was to be authenticated by CBI. It was authenticated by CBI…treated as extrajudicial confession to convict people in Naroda Patia case, but not even looked at by SIT (in Jafri’s complaint). They did not arrest those who accepted commission of crimes,” Sibal said.

Justice Khanwilkar pointed out that the SIT was to investigate or proceed on the basis of preliminary report and look into Jafri’s complaint and decide whether further action is required. “If SIT, after looking at your material…feels there is no credible material, then it’s at the discretion of the SIT not to present supplementary chargesheet,” he said.

Sibal referred to some of the accused named in Jafri’s protest petition, filed urging the magistrate court to not accept SIT’s closure report, and said the team accepted the version of Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, who figured in the sting tapes, that he was only reading from a script given to him in the belief that it was for a film. Sibal said then Gujarat ADGP R B Sreekumar’s testimony was rejected, saying he said all of it as he was not given promotion.

“…But there were statements of other police officers corroborating what Sreekumar said,” Sibal said.

The senior counsel also said the SIT must have inquired why bodies of Godhra train fire victims were handed over to VHP leader Jaideep Patel. “(A) body can only be handed over to family…It was given to Jaideep Patel of VHP…. His phone should have been seized to find out whom he called, but no,” Sibal said. “We are alleging that the funeral procession was also part of conspiracy.”

Sibal contended that the sting tapes showed stockpiling of arms by right-wing elements before February 27, 2002. He asked, “Where did the conspirators meet? When did the consignments arrive? Most importantly, who paid for them?”

The counsel also pointed out that the postmortem examination of those dead in the Godhra carnage was done on the railway platform. “(It is) unheard of…why was this done in a hasty manner?…. The doctors should have been examined,” he told the court.

He said there were contradictory statements on who took the decision to hand over the bodies to the VHP functionary and said SIT should have investigated this.

The counsel said the government did have the records of what had happened, “but claimed that they had been destroyed. They were produced for the first time by the former Ahmedabad Police Commissioner after 15.03.2011. That’s where we got it from and then we filed a protest petition”.

Sibal argued that instead of accepting Pandey’s statement, the SIT should have arrested him. “So what was the SIT doing? Was it supporting all this? Was it trying to protect the accused,” Sibal asked.

He said no appeal has been filed against the High Court verdict acquitting accused former minister Maya Kodnani, and added, “that shows, that itself is an indication”.

Sibal submitted that “there is empirical evidence (that) there was coordination, police was taking sides, as it happens in communal violence, messages sent to police were not responded…”

Submitting that his concern is about the future, Sibal said, “Communal violence is like lava from a volcano, no matter by one community or by another. Wherever it touches earth, it scars earth and never goes away. It is fertile ground for future events…I don’t want to accuse a or b. But you must send a message to the world. This is unacceptable. This should not be tolerated”.

The arguments remained inconclusive and will continue Thursday.

 

Source: Read Full Article