Narendra Modi quizzed by SIT but stays defiant.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Saturday became the first chief minister in independent India to face the ignominy of being questioned about a possible role in communal riots. Modi, named the prime accused in a complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress ex-MP Ahsan Jafri, presented himself before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) for questioning, the first round of which stretched beyond five hours. The second, which started at 9pm, was expected to end at midnight. Jafri, along with 68 others, was killed in Gulbarg Society on February 28, 2002. His widow has accused Modi and his government of failing to protect citizens and abetting the riots that claimed nearly 1,180 lives in 2002, after the Godhra carnage in which 59 persons were burnt alive on the Sabarmati Express.
The pre-FIR probe into Jafri’s complaint is being conducted by the SIT on the basis of a reference made by the SC in April 2009 with a threemonth deadline. After repeated extensions, the SIT, last heard, is due to submit its report by April 30. Jafri had filed a complaint in June 2006 before then director general of police PC Pande, but no FIR was filed. So she moved the Gujarat High Court and then the Supreme Court.
Talking to reporters after the first round that ended after 5pm, Modi tried to put up a brave face. “I hope my behaviour and action is a robust rejoinder to all those vested interest groups, who have been spreading all kinds of tales, and I hope they stop now,” he said. The second round began soon after 9pm and Modi said he hoped to wrap up the session on Saturday itself.
“I have said before that the Indian Constitution and law is supreme, and I as a citizen and chief minister am bound by it,” said Modi.
“The Sabarmati Express, reached Godhra Station at 07:43 hours (7:47 AM) on 27 February 2002, with many kar sevaks (Hindu volunteers) on their way back from a ceremony organized by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi / Babri Mosque site. There was an altercation between some of them and the mostly Muslim hawkers on the platform. After its scheduled 5-minute halt, the train was pulling out when someone pulled the chain to stop it, and the Muslim crowd pelted stones at the train. Then the train left, but was stopped again near a railway cabin where a large Muslim mob of about 500 attacked it. During the attack, the Woman has reserved Coach no. S6 burned down. A total of 58 Hindu pilgrims (23 men, 15 women and 20 children) were asphyxiated in the smoke, while 250 others managed to escape.”
We have already explained the above incident in our Magazine “Engal Baratham” in April 2002. It is our desire that Hindus and Muslims in India should live as Indian nationals and should not fall as victim to political parties.