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Godhra Riots: SC to hear Zakia Jafri plea challenging SIT’s order giving clean-chit to Narendra Modi

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The Supreme Court on Monday will hear a plea of Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafrichallenging the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) decision giving clean chit to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Godhra riots.

Jafri is the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who had been hacked to death in Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society by a rioting Hindu mob during the carnage.

Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots took place – arguably the worst communal pogrom witnessed in India since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots – which claimed over 2000 lives of people of the minority Muslim community.

It has also been alleged over time by Ehsan Jafri’s family that the former Congress MP had repeatedly called Modi over the phone when rioters were approaching Gulbarg Society and asked the then chief minister to send help for protection of the residents but his requests went unheeded. The massacre at Gulbarg Society claimed 68 lives, including Ehsan Jafri.

The Gujarat High Court had in 2017 upheld the clean chit given by the SIT to Modi and several other BJP leaders in the riot cases. Zakia Jafri had then challenged the Gujarat High Court order in the SC.

On November 13, 2018 a Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar had told Jafri’s lawyers that it would study the SIT’s closure report, which cleared Modi’s of the charges, thoroughly. Jafri’s lawyers have maintained that Modi’s role in the “larger conspiracy” of planning and executing the riots must be investigated along with the role played by the then state government’s machinery – the home department and police establishment included – in tacitly aiding the rioters who went on a rampage across Gujarat for three straight days in February 2002.

Besides Jafri, noted human rights activist and lawyer Teesta Setalvad has also moved a separate petition challenging the findings of the SIT.

Since November 19, 2018 the petition has been listed for hearing on several occasions only to be deferred till a further date.

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