By Manmath Deshpande
Replete with factual inaccuracies, false evidence and glaring legal loopholes, Zakia Jafri’s complaint against Shri Narendra Modi and 61 others has neither the head nor the toe and appears more like a tutored school kid’s complaint with wild, unbelievable and unsubstantiated charges.
When the news appeared last week about Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team ( SIT ) probing the nine high profile cases of the 2002 Gujarat riots giving a clean chit to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi , absolving him of the charges of advance planning , complicity and abetment in the riots made by riot victim Zakia Jafri, one lot which was not surprised was of Modi and his supporters.
For, they knew that the complaint , filed against Modi and 61 others including Government officials and State Ministers by the wife of late Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the 2002 riots , was a bundle of inexplicable factual errors, legal loopholes and wild allegations and virtually looked like a tutored child’s complaint , simply impossible to prove.
The complaint alleges that Anand district police chief BS Jebalia was not only witness to unimaginable massacre at Ode village soon after the Godhra carnage but was also an abettor in it through a brazen connivance. The truth is that another police officer, BD Vaghela, and not Jebalia , was posted as Anand district police chief at that time.
Then it says that Chief Secretary Subba Rao participated in the February 27 (2002) night meeting in which it alleged Chief Minister gave orders to officers to direct law enforcement agencies to allow Hindus to give vent to their feelings in reaction to Godhra carnage. But the fact is Subba Rao was on leave on that day and instead of him it was acting Chief Secretary SK Varma who participated in the meeting.
What’s more, many persons who had either no direct connection with the 2002 riots or had in fact played positive role in controlling the riots have been named as conspirators and abettors in the complaint. These seriously militate against the established canons of law and justice. For example, former Ahmedabad police commissioner KR Kaushik who was brought on to the post to control the riots has also been named as an accused. How can Kaushik be accused as an abettor or conspirator when he had been brought in to control the riots and after whose arrival there was further improvement in law and order situation in Ahmedabad ?
Jafri’s allegation that the remains of the slain karsevaks were purposely brought from Godhra to Ahmedabad “in a ceremonial procession” on February 27 after the carnage at Godhra railway station in order to instigate Hindus to target Muslims is wholly untrue. For, the bodies were brought to Ahmedabad after midnight of February 27 in a very sombre atmosphere and not in a ceremonial procession. Plus, the bodies were brought to the then isolated Sola Civil Hospital on the western outskirts of Ahmedabad as a precautionary measure and not to the Ahmedabad’s main civil hospital which is located in eastern Ahmedabad from where most of the killed Ramsevaks came. Sola Civil Hospital was in 2002 located in the far outskirts of Ahmedabad and had very little population around it. This shows the Government’s efforts to control the situation.
Had the Government planned to instigate the Hindus then it would have brought the bodies to the Ahmedabad’s main civil hospital in Eastern Ahmedabad where most of the Ramsevaks resided and from where it would have been ideal to orchestrate violence against Muslims. The Government conduct in this to an extent gives substance to its claim that it tried to take preventive measures to pre-empt Hindu reaction following Godhra carnage.
But the most unimaginable allegation she makes against Modi is that while issuing instructions to his officials in the February 27 night meeting to give long rope to Hindu rioters Modi also indicated that Hindus be encouraged to “indulge in sexual violence against Muslim women”. This whole mischievous and manufactured charge has to be seen in the light of the fact that many Muslim witnesses who claimed to have witnessed acts of rape on Muslim women in their 2003 affidavit before the Supreme Court later told the SIT in May, 2009 that they had been made to make the false charge by human rights activists.
In support of her charge that Modi gave instructions to his officials not to act against Hindu rioters in the February 27 night meeting she produces only one piece of evidence, namely the deposition of former Gujarat IPS officer RB Sreekumar who told the Nanavati Commission in an affidavit and later also the SIT that the then Director General of Police VK Chakravarty, who participated in that crucial February 27 meeting, told him that the CM had directed officers to go slow against Hindu rioters and allow them to give vent to their feelings against the Muslims.
However what Chakravarty and many other officials involved with police department at that time told the Nanavati Commission was exactly the opposite. They said Modi had told them to control the riots. Plus, Sreekumar started making anti-Modi charges in the case only after the Government denied him promotion on strong grounds. He didn’t make the same charge in his first two affidavits.
Significantly, Sreekumar sticks to his ground when he says, “The SIT virtually functioned as B-Team of Gujarat police and ignored the evidence I produced.”
Interestingly, there are several law sections applied in the complaint which are simply inapplicable in the manner she has done. Like Jafri has asked section 193 of IPC to be applied which is about giving false evidence in court during judicial proceedings. But this section can be applied only by the court and not an individual. Then Section six of the Commission of Inquiry Act has also been slapped on the accused by Jafri which only a commission of inquiry can apply.
Then the Protection of Human Rights Act too is wrongly invoked in the complaint whose actual prayer is that the complaint should be turned into an FIR for registering cases against Modi and other accused as conspirators and abettors in the 2002 riots.
Interestingly, the many factual and other contradictions in Jafri’s complaint show that old complaints of 2002 filed by Muslims and human rights activists with a view to building a case against the Modi government and having it pulled down under Article 356 of the Constitution had been put together in a footloose manner for Jafri by some low level lawyer in a form of one full-fledged complaint. When India Today called Zakia Jafri on her phone number she said she was not in a position to talk as she was unwell. Clearly, the situation stands reversed. Today. Modi can now file a defamation case against Jafri.