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SIT questions Modi on Gujarat riots in two marathon sessions

Gujarat CM Narendra Modi returned to SIT office for a second round of question session on late Saturday.

Zeenews Bureau

Gandhinagar: After being questioned for five hours by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigating Team (SIT) in connection with the 2002 riots, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi again returned to the investigating agency’s office for further questioning.

Earlier, Modi had said that “I will try to come back to SIT office to face further questioning around 9 pm tonight. Will like the questioning to end today itself,” he said.

Briefing the media after the first session of questioning, the Chief Minister said that he has given a befitting reply to his detractors by appearing before the investigating agency.

“I hope this might silence my critics as the team, which was questioning is appointed by the apex court itself,” he said.

Though there was no official word on the questioning, Modi is said to have replied to 62 of the 68 questions put to him in the first session.

Modi claimed he had answered all questions put by SIT and that he would prefer questioning to end in one day.

"Vistaar se batcheet ki (we spoke in detail)," he said adding "under the Indian constitution, law is supreme. As a common man, CM, I am bound by the Indian constitution and law. No one can be above the law."

The CM also clarified that no police official had any role in the 2002 riots.

For the first time since the riots in Gujarat eight years ago, Modi today subjected himself to questioning by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT in two sessions.

Ending the suspense as to when he would appear, the 59-year-old senior BJP leader drove to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) office around noon at the old state secretariat building here.

Modi suffered the ignominy of being the first-ever Chief Minister of any state to be called for questioning in a criminal complaint of mass murder after he and his administration were accused of aiding and abetting riots in one area in Ahmedabad.

SIT Chief R K Raghavan was not present at the SIT office when Modi appeared. Another SIT member A K Malhotra questioned the Chief Minister.

Elaborate security arrangements were made at the SIT office for the deposition of the chief minister where a large crew of media persons had assembled since morning.

Modi in the dock

The SIT had summoned Modi to depose in connection with a complaint of Zakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Eshan Jaffery, who was killed in Gulbarg society riots case of 2002 along with 69 others. The complaint also alleged that he had instructed officers not to take action.

Modi`s appearance before SIT assumes significance as he is a serving Chief Minister, who is being questioned before any authority in connection with the 2002 riots.

Today`s event was preceded by drama after Modi refused to appear on March 21 calling as false claim that the SIT had fixed that day for questioning him in connection with the 2002 riots.

The Supreme Court had on April 27 last year asked the SIT to inquire into Zakia`s complaint in which she has alleged that Modi and 62 others, including his cabinet colleagues, police officials and senior bureaucrats, aided and abetted the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.

Zakia approached the apex court after the Gujarat High Court had on November 3, 2007 refused to give any direction and asked her to seek redressal before the Magistrate`s Court.

The wife of the slain Congress leader had alleged that between February and May 2002 there was a "deliberate and intentional failure" of the state government in protecting the
lives and property of innocent people.

SIT had to face legal hurdles while probing Zakia`s complaint when in July last year former BJP MLA Kalu Malivad (one of the 63 people named in the complaint) approached the Gujarat High Court demanding a stay on investigations by SIT with regard to Zakia Jaffery.

The High Court had dismissed the petition saying as the SIT is directly working under the supervision of the Supreme Court, no relief can be granted in this matter.

Malivad has now approached the apex court challenging the High Court verdict.

Inquiring into Zakia`s complaint, SIT has already recorded statements of a number of persons, including former Minister of State for Home Gordhan Zadafia, BJP leader I K
Jadeja, former BJP MLA from Lunawada Kalu Malivad, sitting MLA from Mehsana Anil Patel, ex-IPS officer R B Sreekumar, social activist Teesta Setalvad, IG Shivanand Jha, some senior police officers and political leaders.

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