Published on: December 2, 2021 at 21: 23 IST
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there is a sinister plot behind the complaint to investigate the “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 Gujarat riots, and that the original complaint by Zakia Ahsan Jafri was directed by social activist Teesta Setalvad, who levelled allegations just to keep the pot boiling.
The SIT, which took up Zakia’s lawsuit in 2011 after receiving an order from the Supreme Court, issued a closing report in February 2012, clearing 63 people and ruling out any state or government conspiracies. One of the people exonerated was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was Gujarat’s chief minister at the time.
Defending its findings, the SIT, represented by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said, “What was started by the complainant (Zakia) is now being directed by Teesta Setalvad who is being joined by RB Sreekumar (former Gujarat police chief) in making all kinds of allegations against all people with the singular motive to keep the pot boiling.”
“This court should give a closure to this case. Further agony should not go on at the instance of the second petitioner (Setalvad) who wants to keep the pot boiling,” Rohtagi said.
Rohatgi further stated that when the matter was assigned by the top court for investigation to the SIT in September 2011, “This court saw the tears of a victim of Gulbarga Society.” He was referring to Zakia, whose husband, former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, was killed during at Gulbarga Society during the riots.
The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar told Rohatgi to highlight this aspect in the form of a chart. “Give us bullet points on how the improvement in the complaint was made, first before the trial court, then in the high court and finally in the Supreme Court,” the Bench said.
The SIT provided additional evidence of the purported conspiracy by pointing to three witnesses who came to the SIT to depose their statements while the SIT was investigating Zakia’s allegation.
“These are ramblings made on fictional matters,” the SIT said, denying assertions made by the petitioners – Zakia and Setalvad – concerning the Godhra train burning, parade of dead corpses,
late reaction by the administration to call the army, and remarks by police officials.
In the air, the petitioner is drawing castles. These are difficult-to-believe claims with no basis in fact that raise questions for no reason,” the SIT submitted.
“Obviously, there was a failure of administration,” Rohatgi said, “since they were overrun on the day the riots erupted,” adding, “Ultimately, you can say police was complacent and charge them with dereliction of duty, but there is no criminal plot.”
Rohtagi will resume his submissions on Thursday.