The judge of the special SIT court hearing the 2002 Naroda Gam massacre case today said he will visit the site of the incident on October 5 to understand the area’s topography and verify the claims of witnesses. The court of special SIT judge P B Desai today decided on the date after the special investigation team’s officer, Himanshu Shukla, who was asked to remain present in the court today, said he will be free after October 3.
Shukla, who is currently the superintendent of police of Gujarat’s Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), was the investigating officer in the case. Judge Desai said that the lawyers of SIT, accused and victims will accompany him but no accused will be allowed there when he visits the site on October 5.
He asked the police to submit parts of the punchnama, which carries description of the areas in Naroda Gam where the incident took place, so that he could decide based on the same as to which parts of the area he will need to visit. The SIT had yesterday suggested the court to visit the site of the incident to get a better idea about it and verify witnesses’ claims. An application was filed jointly by the lawyers representing the SIT, accused and witnesses. The court had last week concluded recording of testimonies of 187 witnesses, including BJP chief Amit Shah who appeared as a witness for BJP leader Maya Kodnani, an accused in the case.
The SIT has filed a charge sheet against 82 people, including Kodnani, in the case. The SIT today requested the judge to visit the site of the incident to understand the topography of the area. The judge had then asked the lawyers to specify the places he will need to visit. The lawyers suggested that the judge may visit areas including Muslim Mohalla, the gram panchayat office, a lane near the Bank of India, Mayur Hotel and Nandu Miya’s shop near the mosque which have figured in the descriptions given by the witnesses. Naroda Gam massacre is one of the nine major 2002 communal riots cases which were investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.
Eleven persons belonging to the minority community were killed in Naroda Gam in 2002 riots during a bandh call made to protest the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002. Kodnani, who was then a state minister in the Narendra Modi government, has already been convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail in the Naroda Patiya case in which 97 people were massacred