Teesta trying ‘to keep the pot boiling’, SIT tells SC on Zakia’s plea in Guj riots

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The Supreme Court-constituted SIT, which investigated nine major cases connected with 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat, on Wednesday told the apex court that it left no stone unturned during the probe and the plea alleging larger conspiracy is nothing but an attempt to keep the pot boiling.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the SIT, contended before a bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar that the top court should give a final closure in the matter.

“This is just an attempt to keep the pot boiling and this is done at the behest of somebody, some vested interests. That person is none other than petitioner no 2 (Teesta Setalvad).”

Rohatgi vehemently argued that SIT left no stone unturned and it also examined complaints claiming rewards for the policemen.

The SIT said it found the Gujarat government took a timely decision to call the Army on the day the riots broke out and there was immediate deployment.

“Topmost in the mind of the SIT was the task entrusted by the highest court of the land. We did not want the Supreme Court to raise a finger against us,” he submitted.

Rohatgi emphasised the SIT carried out a full-fledged investigation into the complaint of Zakia Jafri, wife of ex-MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed during riots, and a closure report was filed as there was no “prosecutable evidence” against all those named by the complainants.

“The complaint was examined threadbare and statements were recorded.. There was no substance to lodge a FIR or charge sheet.”

Justice Khanwilkar, while hearing arguments in the matter, sought for empirical data to show the time the SIT spent in probing the case.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Zakia Jafri and activist Setalvad challenging the clean chit given to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, several politicians and bureaucrats in the 2002 riots.

Zakia Jafri challenged the SIT report which ruled out any “larger conspiracy” by high state functionaries in instigating the communal riots post Godhra massacre.

Rohatgi reiterated that Jafri’s complaint alleging a larger conspiracy in the 2002 Gujarat riots was examined thoroughly and then it was decided that there was no material in it. The top court will continue to hear the matter on Thursday.

In the previous hearing in the matter, Rohatgi had contended that allegations have become wilder over the years, and emphasised that SIT diligently investigated each and every allegation, and made recommendations for prosecution of many who had earlier been left out. He had submitted that allegations about a larger conspiracy, were found to be based on the statements of three tainted police officers – R.B. Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma, and Sanjiv Bhatt.

The SIT gave a clean chit to Modi and in 2017, the Gujarat High Court, upheld the clean chit. Zakia Jafri moved the top court challenging the Gujarat High Court order.

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