The Special Investigation Team looking into the 2002 Gujarat riots ignored a mass of evidence and drew conclusions without any investigation, Zakia Jafri, the widow of Ehsan Jafri -- the Congress MP murdered in the riots -- told the Supreme Court today. The SIT did not record statements, seize phones, check how bombs were manufactured and straightaway filed closure reports, contended the 81-year-old, who has challenged the investigative team's clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
For nearly 20 years, Zakia Jafri has been continuing her battle for justice. Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002 -- a day after the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, killing 59 people and triggering riots in Gujarat.
The SIT had submitted its closure report in February 2012 -- a decade after the riots -- and gave a clean chit against PM Modi and 63 others, citing "no prosecutable evidence". The Supreme Court has started hearing the case after multiple adjournments.
Arguing on behalf of Zakia Jafri before a bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar, senior advocate and former Union minister Kapil Sibal said he, too, has been a "victim of communal violence" and "lost maternal grandparents in violence that took place after the partition of India in 1947."
In an earlier hearing, Mr Sibal had contended that the issue goes beyond what happened at the Gulberg society. Ms Jafri's fight, he had said, was about "law and order, administrative failure" and she was not interested in any "high dignitaries" or convictions at this stage.
"People were massacred because of police inaction... I just want matter to be investigated... This is all about law and order and rights of individuals," he said. There was a larger conspiracy at play in Gujarat, including "complicity of bureaucratic officials, deliberate hate speeches and unleashing of violence," he had said, contending that there is a body of evidence -- 23,000 pages -- that nobody has looked into.
"There were people who were massacred because of police inaction. Where will people go if none of the Courts look into the issue? The republic stands or falls based on what the Court does... This republic is too great to look the other way," he had said.