‘SIT reluctant to examine key-witnesses in riot'

Ahmedabad: Making serious allegations against the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Friday said that the agency was "reluctant" in examining key-witnesses about the February 27, 2002 meeting held at Chief Minister Narendra Modi's residence.

In a letter to SIT chairman RK Raghavan, Bhatt has also alleged that the agency was "intentionally disregarding" important aspects of riot victim Zakia Jaffery's complaint implicating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others.

"It seems that the SIT, for some inexplicable reason, is continuing to intentionally disregard very important aspects of the investigation into the complaint of Zakia Nasim Ahesan Jaffery, dated June 8, 2006," Bhatt said in his letter to Raghavan.

"Nothing illustrates this better than the deliberate reluctance of the SIT to examine witnesses, who would be able to provide very vital information about the meeting held at the residence of the Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the late night of February 27, 2002," he added.

In April last year, Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, in which, he had claimed that he was present for the meeting called by Modi on the night of February 27, 2002. He had alleged that during the meeting, Modi had directed the state officials and his party colleagues to let "Hindus vent out their anger" during the 2002 riots and the "Muslims be taught a lesson."

In the letter to SIT, Bhatt further said that during the course of his deposition, he had submitted to the SIT a list of key-witnesses, "who could corroborate him about having attended the meeting held at Modi's residence on the late night of February 27, 2002."

Bhatt also suggested that the SIT should shield its officers against all possible allurements or pressures being mounted by the Gujarat government, which is "ensconced with high and mighty criminals".

"This is the barest minimum that you should be doing even at this stage, by way of an honest and sincere attempt to redeem and justify the tremendous faith reposed in you by the Honourable Supreme Court of India," he added.

Bhatt also referred to yesterday's letter to Raghavan by former Chief minister Suresh Mehta, where he had explicitly mentioned serious concerns about the fairness of the SIT probe and had also raised some very valid issues about the integrity and impartiality of the SIT under Raghavan's stewardship.

Bhatt is presently out on bail after being arrested on September 30 in connection with an FIR filed against him by a police constable for allegedly threatening him, wrongfully confining him and making him sign a false affidavit.