Amid reports that the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court to investigate the 2002 Gujarat riots cases has given Chief Minister Narendra Modi a clean chit on the grounds that there was no prosecutable evidence against him, news magazine Tehelka has claimed Raju Ramachandran, the amicus curiae in the case, in his report given to the top court in May last year recommended that Mr Modi should be prosecuted.
According to Tehelka, Mr Ramachandran, in his report, has said that it is unreasonable on part of the special probe team to disbelieve what suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt told the panel. Mr Bhatt, in an affidavit before the Supreme Court, had alleged that Mr Modi, during a meeting on February 27, 2002, instructed top police officials of the state to allow the Hindus to vent their anger after the Godhra train burning incident. He had deposed before the Commission in May last year.
The amicus curiae's report also says that contrary to the probe panel's stance, facts are seemingly loaded in Mr Bhatt's favour and that Mr Bhatt is a crucial witness whose statement is a direct piece of evidence. Mr Bhatt was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence with the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) from 1999 to 2002.
The Tehelka report says that the amicus curiae said it is illogical that the probe panel used what it calls 'unreliable' witnesses to disbelieve Mr Bhatt's testimony.
Sources say the SIT states in its latest report that seven officials present at the meeting, called by Mr Modi on February 27, 2002, had denied that Mr Bhatt was even there. The meeting was called to discuss law and order after the Godhra train burning incident that sparked the Gujarat riots.
Mr Ramachandran says the veracity of Mr Bhatt's revelations could only be ascertained by conducting a criminal trial, and there may not be overwhelming evidence but 'some' evidence to proceed against Mr Modi, as mentioned in the Tehelka report.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat Chief Minister has found support in Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray. At a 70,000-strong rally in Thane attended by Sena supporters on Saturday, Mr Thackeray said that he had advised BJP veteran LK Advani against removing Mr Modi as the chief minister after the riots in 2002.
"Advani asked me a question at that time - What do you think of Narendra Modi? I said he belongs to your party, why should I think about him? He said, there is a move to remove him, what do you think should be done? I then told him, I think if you remove Narendra Modi, then Gujarat is gone," said the Sena chief.