SIT begins probe into role of Modi, ministers, in 2002

Written by Political Bureau | Gandhinagar | Updated: May 27 2009, 06:26am hrs
The Supreme Court-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI director RK Raghavan began probing the role, if any, of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 62 others in the 2002 riots in Gujarat, on Tuesday.

The SC had recently ordered the SIT to investigate the role of Modi, seven of his Cabinet colleagues and several senior IAS and IPS officers in the communal carnage that officially left 1,180 dead. This followed a complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri, who was among those killed in the Gulberg Society massacre.

Besides seeking a probe into the role of 63 persons in the riots, Zakia, in her complaint filed in the SC, had also raised crucial questions to be investigated by the SIT.

We began the inquiry today into the petition Zakia Jaffri had filed in the apex court. We started with calling the petitioner to the SIT office in Gandhinagar. We had a long interaction with her, and she narrated the allegations she made in her petition, SIT chief Raghavan told media persons.

Raghavan said that the SIT will now summon others to probe their role, if any, in the 2002 riots. Asked if Modi will also be asked to appear before it, he said: The SIT will inquire into the role of all the 63 persons in the riots as directed by the apex court. We have to act as per the SCs directive.

He said the SIT had worked out an elaborate plan for the protection of witnesses who want to depose before the fast track courts, and it will soon start conducting trial in nine of the most heinous riot cases.

The SIT plans to ensure a three-tier protection to the witnesses in these cases at places where they live, on their transit routes between their residences and fast track courts and also in the court premises.

Raghavan said the SIT has decided to requisition the services of the state police as well as Central paramilitary forces for protecting the witnesses. He said he had already asked the Gujarat DGP to place a senior police officer of the rank of SP at the SITs disposal, in charge of the protection of witnesses.

The DGP has been asked to direct SPs of all districts where the fast track courts would conduct the trial, to ensure that no one intimidates witnesses.

About the appointment of public prosecutors for the fast track courts, Raghavan said A list of advocates is being readied, and the SIT will send it to the State Home Department in a day or two.