Relief for Modi as court upholds SIT closure report

Ahmedabad, Dec 26 : In a major relief for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a local court Thursday dismissed a petition by a killed Congress leader's widow, challenging the SIT's closure report giving a clean chit to him and 58 others in a case relating to the 2002 communal riots.

Expressing disappointment over the ruling by Metropolitan Magistrate B.J. Ganatra, Zakia Jafri and her supporters, including activist Teesta Setalvad, said they would challenge it before a higher court.

The petition challenging the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team's closure report, was filed by Jafri, the widow of slain former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was among the 69 people killed in the Gulbarg Society massacre here Feb 28, 2002 during the bloody riots in the wake of the Godhra train incident.

In her petition, Jafri had alleged that the SIT had shielded Modi and others by discarding the statements of police officers and other available evidence.

She further accused the SIT of having done incomplete and frivolous investigations and playing the role of a court by adjudging the truth about the available evidence.

Before closing the matter, the SIT had said there was not sufficient evidence to prosecute Modi and the incident alleged (the Gulbarg massacre) was beyond the ambit of its probe.

The investigating agency further said that it could not find any prosecutable evidence against the accused regarding their involvement in the alleged larger riots conspiracy.

The SIT declined to consider Indian Police Service officers R.B. Sreekumar, Sanjiv Bhatt and Rahul Sharma as witnesses or treat their statements as evidence on grounds that these were "hearsay evidence".

In 2006, Jafri had sought to lodge a complaint about the alleged larger conspiratorial role of Modi and 62 others during the 2002 riots.

After the Gujarat Police failed to register her complaint, she petitioned the Gujarat High Court which directed her to a magisterial court. However, she decided to move the Supreme Court.

The apex court had directed the SIT to look into the issue and later directed it to file its report before the concerned magistrate court.

In February last year, the SIT filed its closure report virtually exonerating all the accused, including Modi and others, which was challenged by Jafri through her lawyer Mihir Desai.

--IANS (Posted on 26-12-2013)

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