Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been summoned by a committee appointed by the Supreme Court, which is investigating the Gujarat riots of 2002. (Read: SC asks SIT to probe Modi's role in Godhra riots
The Gujarat Chief Minister will be asked to explain the accusations against him in the murder of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jaffrey, who was burnt alive, along with nearly 70 other people in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society. (Read: Nothing to apologise for in Gujarat riots: Modi
Reacting to the SIT's summons Gujarat government said the Chief Minister will cooperate with the process of law.
"The state government and the Chief Minister would cooperate with the process of law," Gujarat government spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas said.
He, however, refused to comment further saying whatever is required to follow the process of law will be done by the state government.
Meanwhile, the BJP has defended Modi and accused NGOs and activists of a vendetta against the Gujarat CM.
"Shri Narendra Modi is a part of the law which shall be allowed to take its course. Some NGOs have vested interest in conspiracy to defame him," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP Spokesperson.
The case against Modi has been filed by Jaffrey's wife, Zakiya, who says Modi, along with other ministers in his government, conspired to allow the massacre of Muslims. Zakiya Jaffrey alleges that Modi and his colleagues instructed policemen and bureaucrats not to respond to pleas for help from Muslims being attacked during the riots. She has named Modi and 62 others in her complaint.
Since then the Chief Minister has been repeatedly accused of
orchestrating the riots by victims, activists and even ministers and
top cops in his own government, like R B Sreekumar, who was Additional DG Intelligence, had deposed
before a commission of inquiry that ministers and police were
deliberately inactive during the riots.
Also more recently an eyewitness Imtiyaz Pathan has told the court when
a mob started gathering outside Gulbarga Society and the police refused
to come desperate Jafri had called Chief Minister Narendra Modi for
help. (Watch: SIT probe just a formality: Riots victim
Pathan was the first eyewitness account in the trial which after being held up for 7 years started in September 2009.
Since then one more victim, Roopa Modi, has testified against Modi.
But hard evidence is missing:
To prove victims made over 200 calls, calls that were deliberately
ignored by politicians and policemen, the victims asked for BSNL phone
records that the SIT has not been able to get so far.
The Gujarat Chief Minister has been asked to appear for questioning on the March 21. The Supreme Court's Special Investigation Team (SIT) is headed by RK Raghavan, a former head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Speaking to NDTV, Raghavan
said that Modi's questioning could be the final step in his committee's inquiry. After questioning the Chief Minister, he will submit his report to the Supreme Court by the end of April. "The petition made several allegations that several people conspired, created problems on that day. And we examined several witnesses...we are coming almost to the end of the enquiry. So, we naturally have to ask Mr Modi as to 'what you think of all the information we have gathered.' Then we will report to the Supreme Court," he said. (Watch: Modi summoned for questioning in riots case: SIT Chief
1180 Muslims were killed in the Gujarat riots.
Zakiya, who is the only victim to have named Modi on paper in her 100-page complaint, raised three questions in her statement to the SIT:
(Watch: Ehsaan Jaafri's son Tanvir Jaafri reacts to SIT summon to Modi
- Why were dead bodies of Godhra train victims paraded on the streets of Ahmedabad?
- Why was the bandh called by Sangh Parivar on February 27, 2002 not stopped?
- Why are there no records of the meetings held by CM Modi February 27, 2002 onwards?
She alleged: ''Narendra Modi had issued instructions to the police and security establishments to remain inactive and allow a free run to rioters. That's why the police didn't act.'' (Read: Gujarat riots trial: Witness 'blames' Modi
A tired Zakiya Jafri told NDTV that she hoped the case would be over soon and "I get justice." (Watch: Zakiya Jafri speaks to NDTV
Apart from the Zakiya Jafri complaint, the SIT has reopened nine crucial riot cases.
However, the credibility of the team that has summoned Modi is also under scrutiny in the Supreme Court. Two months ago, activists filed a complaint against the SIT on the grounds that it includes Shivanand Jha, a police officer accused by Zakiya Jaffrey in her complaint. Activists are also upset that the SIT has been slow to summon Modi and that the SIT's chief, Raghavan, does not spend enough time in Ahmedabad.
The panel filed its defence in the Supreme Court on Thursday and it will be examined by the court on Monday.
More crucially, the SIT has not submitted another crucial evidence in court: The CD, that has telephone call data of government leaders and officials in the first few days of Gujarat riots.
Sources say if the SIT does not swiftly makes a case of hard technical evidence to back the accusations of conspiracy, Modi might just be able to escape with SIT without a scar.
The Gulbarg Society massacre: What happened
On February 28, 2002, a mob started gathering outside Gulbarg Society at 9 am. It began shouting slogans.
At noon, the mob began attacking residents.
Former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri tried to shelter people against the mob.
An eyewitness has testified in court that Jafri repeatedly called Chief Minister Narendra Modi for help. The same eyewitness says that Modi refused to help Jafri, and allegedly abused him on the phone. Jafri phoned 200 other people, including cops and bureaucrats, for help. Senior police officers allegedly refused to respond.
In the afternoon, a mob went into Jafri's house and set him on fire in front of his family.
Other people in the colony were then killed.
By the evening, 69 people had died.