Gujarat riots: Narendra Modi summoned by SIT

First chief minister to be called for questioning in a criminal complaint

Gujarat riots: Narendra Modi summoned by SIT

Eight years after the post-Godhra riots, Modi suffered the ignominy of being the first-ever chief minister of any state to be called for questioning in connection with a criminal complaint after he and his administration were accused of aiding and abetting riots in one area here.

The summons were issued in connection with the complaint by Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffery who was killed along with 69 others in the 2002 Gulburg society riots.

"We have asked the Chief Minister (Modi) to appear before us on March 21," SIT chief R K Raghavan told reporters today.The SIT is probing afresh some riot cases. "He has been asked to come for questioning in connection with the complaint of Zakia Jaffery," he added. Over 1,000 people were killed during the riots across the state.

Raghavan dismissed as hypothetical a question whether Modi is legally bound to appear before the SIT. Zakia in her 100-page complaint alleged conspiracy by Modi and 62 others, including his Cabinet colleagues, senior police officials and senior bureaucrats.

Gordhan Zadaphia, Ashok Bhatt, P C Pande, who were the home minister, health minister and the city police commissioner at the time of the riots were also named in the complaint. There was no immediate reaction from Modi or the state government. "I hope that justice will be given to us...It has been a long journey. I am very happy that Modi has been summoned," Zakia said.

Raghavan said the SIT will submit its report to the Supreme Court on its investigation into some of the riot cases by the end of April. He was evasive whether the SIT probe will come to an end once Modi responds to the summons. "Possibly yes, not necessarily," he said.

"We have examined a number of witnesses who have given evidence and levelled allegations against Modi as well.  We have to post that evidence to Modi...We are giving a chance to him to respond to the allegations and get responses." Raghavan said the SIT has "almost come to the end of the inquiry".

"So we have naturally to ask Modi as to what he thinks of the information we have collected," he added. SIT has already recorded statements of number of persons named in Zakia's complaint which include, Zadafia, BJP leader I K Jadeja, former IPS officer R B Sreekumar, social activist Teesta Setalvad, IG Shivanand Jha, some senior police officers and political leaders.

The Supreme court had in April last year asked the SIT to look into the complaint of Zakia. The SIT which was constituted by the apex court to investigate the Godhra train carnage case and eight other post-Godhra riot cases, was directed by the SC to examine a complaint by Jaffery and submit report in three months.

In July last year, the Gujarat High Court dismissed a petition challenging the probe by SIT against Modi and 62 others for their role during the 2002 riots. Former BJP MLA Kalu Malivad (one of the 62 people named in the complaint) had filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court demanding a stay on investigations by the SIT with regard to Zakia's complaint.

The High Court had dismissed the petition saying as the SIT is directly working under the supervision of the Supreme Court no relief can be granted in this matter and dismissed the petition.

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