Ahmedabad: SIT chief RK Raghavan had found lapses on the part of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his preliminary inquiry report into the 2002 riots case submitted two years, but gave him a clean chit saying there was not sufficient ground for any action under the law.
Raghavan's comments on the preliminary inquiry report of the SIT were submitted in the Supreme Court in May, 2010, which mentioned that in an interview given by Modi to a television channel on criminal conspiracy of people of Godhra, his remarks were "sweeping" and "offensive."
Raghavan had also doubted Modi on the presence of two of his then ministers, I K Jadeja and Ashok Bhatt in state and city police control rooms and on Modi visiting Godhra on the same day of train burning incident but taking 5-6 days to go to the riot-hit areas.
He also found that the allegations on appointment of public prosecutors "politically connected, either to the ruling party or orgnisations sympathetic to it" in the riots cases and that Modi did not issue orders against the bandh call by Hindu organisations (VHP) on February 28, 2002 were true.
However, in the final report submitted before a local court on February eight this year, Raghavan's SIT not only exonerated Modi of all the charges, but said that he did his job of controlling the riots well.
Raghavan's comments in the 2010 report were made available for public by NGO - Citizen for Justice and Peace, which got them from complainant Zakia Jaffery, wife of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jaffery who was killed in the 2002 riots.
The SIT chief has observed in the report that, "his (Modi's) statement accusing some elements in Godhra as possessing a criminal tendency was sweeping and offensive, coming as it was from a chief minister and that too at a critical time when Hindu and Muslim tempers were running high."
"But taking an overall view of this statement and his subsequent appeals for peace, it is difficult to opine that Shri Modi's intention was to provoke Hindu feelings against the Muslim community," Raghavan had said in the report prepared by investigation officer in the case A K Malhotra.
Raghavan appreciated the job done by inquiry officer Malhotra who, in the primary investigation report, had said that eight allegations are substantiated against Gujarat administration and Modi.
Raghavan said he recommended departmental inquiry against some police officers, but went on to say that "the other substantiated allegations did not throw material that would justify further action under the law."
As per the SIT report, in an interview given to a television channel on March 1, 2002 in connection with the riots Modi said, "What happened in Godhra day before yesterday, where 40 women and children were burnt alive, this country and even foreign countries are shocked. People of that area of Godhra have criminal tendencies, they had earlier killed a lady teacher and now have committed this heinous crime, reactions to which are being felt."
The SIT report further says that when Modi was asked to comment on this particular point, he said that "if his words cited in this question are considered in the correct perspective, then it would be evident that there is a very earnest appeal for people refraining from any kind of violence....."
In his comments, Raghavan has doubted Modi on the presence of two of his then ministers Jadeja and Bhatt in state and city police control rooms, respectively, saying, "Although there is no evidence that this was directly at the instance of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the fact that he was the cabinet minister for Home would heighten suspicion that the decision had his blessings."
However, the final report gives clean chit to Modi on the same issue saying that though presence Jadeja was established in state control room, he had not interfered with police work.
Raghavan also expressed surprise on Modi's prompt visit to Godhra on the same day of train burning incident, but not visiting riot-affected areas of Ahmedabad even after 5-6 days.
"Shri Modi visited Godhra promptly on the same day as the incident. Surprisingly, however, he took as many as 5-6 days to do the same in the riot affected areas of Ahmedabad, where Muslims were victims," Raghavan said in his comments in 2010.
However, SIT final report in 2012 said that Modi had visited riot sites as early as March 3 and the allegation of partiality on the part of the chief minister is not established.
SIT chief also said that the allegation, that Modi has not issued orders against the bandh call given by the Hindu organisations (VHP) on February 28, 2002, was true as per the admission of the state Home department.
He further said that the public prosecutors appointed in the riots cases had connections with BJP and VHP.
"Though there is a transparent procedure for appointment of public prosecutors, it has been found that a few of the past appointees were in fact politically connected, either to the ruling party or organisations sympathetic to it," Raghavan's report said.
First Published: Sunday, May 13, 2012, 19:05