• Gujarat Riot Case 2002: Zakia Jafri's petition against PM Narendra Modi was dismissed by the Supreme Court

    Gujarat Riot Case 2002: Zakia Jafri's petition against PM Narendra Modi was dismissed by the Supreme Court

    Here is a look at the 20 years of litigation and what lies ahead as the SC grants PM Modi a clean tab in the Gujarat riots case.

    Digital Desk: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) cleared former Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and numerous other people in the 2002 Gujarat riots, but Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, appealed to that decision. 

    The Supreme Court finally dismissed her case on Friday.

    A former member of parliament named Ehsan Jafri was one of 68 individuals who died on February 28, 2002, at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society, a day after a Sabarmati Express coach burned down at Godhra, killing 59 people and sparking rioting across the state.

    A three-judge panel oversaw that the appeal lacked substance and affirmed the Metropolitan Magistrate's and later the High Court's judgments to accept the Special Investigation Team's (SIT) a clean chit to Prime Minister Modi and others.

    The highest court criticized the appellant for "bordering on undermining the integrity and sincerity of investigators" while the SIT was complimented for its work. 

    In addition, the court mentioned "certain aggrieved Gujarat officials and others trying to create a sensation by making false revelations to keep the pot boiling for ulterior intents." 

    According to the bench, people responsible for such "abuse of procedure deserve to be in the dock and face law."

    Let's dig into some information about what happened in the 2002 Gujarat Riots:

    The Gujarat Riot

    Around 58 people perished after a Sabarmati Express carriage carrying karsevaks returning from Ayodhya caught fire at Godhra, Gujarat, on February 27, 2002. 

    It resulted in widespread unrest throughout the state, necessitating the deployment of Army soldiers by the federal government.

    According to official figures, 1,044 persons were killed in this incident of religious violence in India, including 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus.

    There have also been reports of rapes, looting, and property destruction, including store and home fires. In addition, there were over 2 lakh displaced individuals.

    Many relocated to different neighbourhoods since they could not return to their original ones.

    About the Case of Zakia Jafri

    A mob assaulted Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society housing complex the day after the Sabarmati Express was set ablaze, killing 69 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri.

    Most of the Gulbarg Society's bungalow and apartment complexes residents were Muslims. Other locations where mass murders took place included Naroda Patiya and Best Bakery.

    When Modi was the state's chief minister in 2006, Zakia Jafri requested the Gujarat Police to register an FIR against several officials and politicians. 

    According to Jafri, the state government did nothing to stop the rioting and save individuals, including her husband.

    The Supreme Court formed an SIT in 2008 to look into Jafri's complaint and give a report on the rioting cases.

    The SIT cleared Modi and others of any wrongdoing by stating "no prosecutable evidence" and submitting its closure report to the Magistrate in 2012.

    Jafri submitted a petition protesting the closure report in 2013. The Magistrate rejected her plea and upheld the SIT's closing report.

    She petitioned the Gujarat High Court, which in 2017 upheld the Magistrate's ruling as well. In 2014, Modi was elected prime minister.

    In 2018, Jafri and activist Teesta Setalvad petitioned the supreme court, arguing that the SIT's inquiry was biased, it had not looked at all the evidence available to it, and the investigators themselves should be subject to an investigation.

    The Gujarati government refuted the allegations during the court. It claimed Jafri's plea was the brainchild of Setalvad, who is accused of embezzling funds intended to benefit riot victims.

    The supreme court reserved its judgment in 2021 and upheld the SIT probe in 2022.

    Case Filed on PM Modi

    The claims against Modi, according to Jafri and Setalvad's attorney Kapil Sibal, were based on those made by former Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who claimed to have been present at a vital cabinet meeting.

    However, there was no other way to confirm the allegations because, according to the SIT, Bhatt was not present at the meeting. And the Supreme Court has maintained the SIT's decision of clean exit following the Magistrate and the High Court.

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