When Modi Met Caesar’s Wife

The Gujarat CM’s summon drama has further dipped the SIT’s credibility
Former DGP, Gujarat

THE MEDIA hype created by the Special Inves - tigation Team’s (SIT) summon to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi disappeared like the tail of a snake in no time. Many riot victims viewed the March 12 SIT summon as a move to preempt any adverse verdict on the eve of the apex court hearing a petition of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) on March 15.

In the legal perspective, the so-called SIT summon is not one emanating out of powers given to the Investigating Officer under provisions of the CrPC. The SIT is yet to register an FIR against Narendra Modi and 62 others named in the complaint by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, who was killed in Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad, during the 2002 riots. Though the apex court directed the SIT to initiate action on Zakia’s petition as early as April 2009, so far the SIT is merely conducting an inquiry, without registering a criminal case in the relevant police station. Consequently, the SIT does not have any legal authority to issue summons to anybody, or to arrest, interrogate, and search and so on. Thus, there is no legal significance of Modi appearing before the SIT, as he did on March 27. Why then this great drama? Is it a smokescreen for Modi as a prelude to anointing him with the absolution of innocence in the 2002 carnage and the subsequent on-going subversion of the criminal justice system?

The track record of the SIT in the re-investigation of major carnage cases is one of religiously following the path, strategy and methodology of previous investigators of Gujarat Police. This has been ensured by Gujarat Police officers deputed to the SIT. Strangely, the SIT Chairman has done nothing to shift or replace tainted officers like the Convener-SIT, an Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) who was assailed by the Supreme Court for her unprofessionalism and destruction of evidence in the Sohrabuddin encounter case. Another SIT member, an ADGP, is as an accused in Jafri’s complaint; a third member, an Inspector General of Police (IGP), had pressurised senior public prosecutor RK Shah to toe the SIT line; and two junior police officers were indicted by Judicial Magistrate SP Tamang for their culpable role in an encounter.

The riot victims feel the SIT ignored important witnesses and crucial points in their complaints. As a result, in September 2009, the Special Judge hearing the Gulberg Society case adversely commented on the SIT’s commitment and sought investigating data brought out in ‘Operation Kalank’, the sting by TEHELKA; the Rahul Sharma CDs; crucial police records from police stations to district offices; narco-test of officers who attended the Chief Minister’s meeting on February 27, 2002, wherein Modi instructed all to allow Hindu rioters a free play.

In the investigation of major cases like the Gulberg Society, Naroda-Patia, Sardarpura village and others, the SIT had so far kept the bureaucratic complicity in genocidal crimes as low as possible by arresting only an Ins pectorrank officer. Can a group of inspectors organise such extensive bloodbath without the clearance from higher-ups? Having found nothing culpable against senior police officials and their political masters in the SIT probe so far, it is almost improbable that the SIT will arrest and prosecute those figuring in the Jafri complaint and hence no registration of criminal case so far.

In this backdrop, Modi has cleverly capitalised on the SIT summon to generate sympathy for himself. Already, he enjoys the support of sizeable sections of Gujarat’s intellectuals and pragmatic political pundits, who deem that his electoral glories since 2002 should neutralise or even terminate criminal action against him. This suicidal approach of a section of the Indian elite will roll out the red carpet for future riots, besides fuelling Islamic jihadists to speed up their indoctrination drive against the so-called anti-minority stance of the Indian State. Let us not forget that after the arrest of Gujarat Police officers in fakeencounter cases in April 2007, there have been no encounter killings of terrorists plotting to target Modi. A clean chit by the SIT to Narendra Modi and his collaborators in the 2002 riots will bring limitless infamy to our judicial system in the eyes of the jurist fraternity and posterity.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 14, Dated April 10, 2010



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