Change SPPs, say Gujarat riot survivors

Written by Political Bureau | Ahmedabad | Updated: Jun 16 2009, 04:12am hrs
Several survivors of the 2002 Naroda Gam and Naroda Patiya riots have opposed the appointment of Nigam Shukla and Akhilesh Desai as special public prosecutors (SPPs) to facilitate the trial in the two cases.

They allege that Shukla and Desai have links with saffron groups, so they may be sympathetic to the accused in the case.

The two were appointed as SPPs by the state legal department early last week. The appointments were made on the recommendations of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The protestors have submitted a petition before SIT chief RK Raghavan, demanding their removal.

The petition forwarded by two Naroda Gam riot survivors, Imtiaz Qureshi and Nanhumiyan Rasoolmiyan Malek, points out that Shukla had earlier represented the state government before the Nanavati Commission. We cannot expect such a lawyer to defend the victims, the petition stated.

In a separate petition to the SIT, 35 other survivors led by Dildar Umrao Saiyed have opposed Desais appointment. They claim his name had figured in the Rs 36-crore Ahmedabad Peoples Cooperative Bank scam that led to the banks collapse. Desai was the vice-chairman of the bank when the scam surfaced. They have also alleged that Desai has a pro-Hindutva leaning.

Ninety-eight people were killed at Naroda Patiya, while 11 others were massacred at Naroda Gam. Among the accused in the two cases are ex-state minister Maya Kodnani and former Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Jaydeep Patel.