Modi gets clean chit in riots case; snooping under probe
With barely some months left for the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi got a shot in the arm when a metropolitan magistrate on Thursday rejected riot victim Zakiya Jafri’s protest petition against the clean chit given by the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to Modi and 59 others for the alleged involvement in the 2002 riots.
This was the first time a court had ruled on the allegations against the Gujarat chief minister for his alleged involvement in the riots. Given the huge political ramifications, the BJP went all out terming it as a ‘defeat for those who had carried out a sinister campaign against the Gujarat chief minister. The chief minister himself tweeted, ‘Satyamev Jayate’.
Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra rejected the plea which came after a day-long wait in the packed courtroom. The verdict was to be delivered at 11 am but finally came in as 4.30 pm amidst a packed house of mediapersons and a battery of lawyers and activists.
Modi, who never really seemed to be hassled in any manner anyway and had left for Goa to attend the marriage of the son of his Goa counterpart and tweeted before the verdict, “On my way to Goa to attend the wedding of Parrikar’s son”.
Apart from anything else, the protest plea filed by Zakia against the closure report of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) that had given Modi a clean chit had been a political booster for Modi. It gave a chance to Modi reposition himself with respect to Muslim community. This was initiated with his Sadbhavana Mission in 2011. For the records, the SIT in its closure report had maintained that “Law and order review meetings were held by Modi and all the things was done to control the situation... the Army was called on time to contain the communal violence.” The report said the riots cannot be called ethnic cleansing or a genocide.
"Modi was busy with steps to control the situation, establishment of relief camps for riot victims and also with efforts to restore peace and normalcy", it had said adding that in "view of the detailed inquiry and satisfactory explanation of the person involved, no criminal case is made out against Narendra Modi."
Obvious expressions of happiness from his peers started flooding cyber space immediately after the verdict. “The Congress and its sponsored NGOs are unable to fight Narendra Modi politically. They used falsehood in court against him but failed”, tweeted Arun Jaitley. “Modi goes into the 2014 campaign untainted by propaganda. The verdict has proved that propaganda can never be a substitute for truth”, he added.
However, Zakia, who had levelled charges against Narendra Modi and 61 top rankers of the Gujarat government for larger conspiracy behind the riots has declined to relent. Even as she broke down after the order she said, “We’ll move higher court against this order.”
“It is a matter of big disappointment,” said Tanvir Jafri, her son and admitting that long legal battle lies ahead for them. “We are saddened by the order, but not disheartened,” said Teesta Seetalvad who had been a co-complainant with Zakia.
For the lawyers of Zakia, the verdict has come as a setback but Mihir Desai, lawyer of Jafri said, “Modi can breath easy for 20 days or so, we are coming back after this with our appeal.’’ Seetalvad said that they stood by the complaint and they would appeal in higher court in shortest possible time.
However, for now, Modi stands absolved of all criminal charge that could have been framed against him with the acceptance of this petition. Political observers maintain that this would help the BJP boost Modi’s image among the minorities.