The Supreme Court on April 13 expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) vis-à-vis the Godhra riots’ Naroda massacre and eight other related cases.
The bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul on April 13 made some changes in the SIT, including changing its chairman and listed the case for the last week of July.
RK Raghavan, chairman of the SIT, had requested to be released from the post because of ill-health. The bench allowed his request. K Venkatesam, a member of SIT, has been appointed Commissioner of Police Nagpur. He had also requested to be released, which was granted.
AK Malhotra will continue to be in charge of SIT and submit quarterly reports to the court.
On September 19 last year, the Supreme Court had directed the Principal Judge, City Civil & Sessions Court, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat—the trial is pending before him—“to make an endeavour to conclude the investigation as expeditiously as possible, preferably within six months from that date, and also expedite the conclusion of the trial relating to Naroda incident, as far as possible, preferably within six months from that day.”
Meanwhile, the chairman of the SIT, Gandhinagar, has submitted Reports on Progress in nine under-trial cases regarding the Godhra Riots. Reports dated November 30, 2016 and February 28, 2017 were submitted in sealed covers and counsel for the state of Gujarat has also filed his report.
On April 13 the Chief Justice thanked senior advocate Harish Salve for his contribution for all these years as an Amicus Curie in the matter.
On February 28, 2002 at Naroda, Ahmedabad, within the Gujarat riots,
97 Muslims were killed by a mob of approximately 5,000 people. The massacre happened while a bandh, called by Vishwa Hindu Parishad a day after the Godhra train burning, was on.
In the massacre lasting ten hours, the mob looted, stabbed, sexually assaulted, gang-raped and burnt people. Curfew was imposed in the state and the army was called in to contain further violence.
This violence has been deemed as “the largest single case of mass murder” during the 2002 Gujarat riots, accounting for the greatest number of deaths during a single event.
—By India Legal Bureau