#India – Mother courage against #Narendramodi

Dileep Padgaonkar 
21 April 2013, 02:34 PM IST

Zakia Jafri deserves accolades for her grit and determination to get justice for her slain husband.

On April 24,  a magistrate in Ahmedabad will begin daily hearings on a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of the slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, challenging the clean chit that the Special Investigation Team gave Narendra Modi’s for his alleged role in the Godhra and post-Godhra violence in 2002. She contends that the SIT overlooked masses of evidence – including dispatches filed by the intelligence department and detailed records of cell-phone calls made on Februray  28, the day on which her husband and 70 others were killed in the city’s Gulberg Society – to save the Gujarat chief minister’s skin.

The calls indicate that as soon as he was he informed about the burning of the train at Godhra, Modi contacted not his senior officials first but the secretary of the Gujarat unit of the VHP, Jaideep Patel, and asked him to go post-haste to the site of the gruesome incident. There Patel ensured that the bodies were handed over to him and not, as is the prevalent practice, to the next of kin. He then hauled them in trucks and, ignoring police warnings, orchestrated a procession of the bodies through the streets of Ahmedabad. This brazen attempt to provoke communal fury had the desired effect: death and destruction on a scale that shamed India.

The fact that the Supreme Court first allowed Zakia Jafri access to a truck-load of documents compiled by the SIT and also permitted her to file the petition was a clear indication that in the eyes of the apex court Modi is not entirely off the hook. That realization probably explains why he sought the death penalty for two individuals convicted for their actions during the riots: Maya Kodnani, who once served in his cabinet, and Babu Bajrangi, a VHP activist. But far from giving himself a freshly minted secular image, this move has triggered indignation in the ranks of Hindu right-wing groups, including the Shiv Sena. And it has further alienated him from his critics within the BJP, especially from L.K. Advani who had doted on Kodnani.

Nor has he succeeded  in detracting attention from Zakia Zafri’s petition. It should finally settle the matter one way or the other. Regardless of its outcome, however, the remarkable courage that this frail and elderly lady has shown over more than a decade to get to the bottom of the communal carnage must command respect and admiration. Despite repeated legal set-backs, she never wavered in her determination, nor did she once fear the consequences of defying the Gujarat strong-man.

No less significant is her undiminished faith in the judiciary. Time and again she has vowed to abide by its verdict once she exhausts all legal remedies available to her as a citizen of the republic. For a woman who has borne untold suffering, such faith is touching beyond words. And such grace and dignity under intolerable pressure is quite simply miraculous.

But tough times await Modi even if the magistrate hearing Zakia Jafri’s petition endorses the SIT’s conclusions. According to a report published in the Sunday Times of India, two senior police officers made numerous calls to the chief minister’s office during two encounters: one that killed Sohrabuddin Shaikh on 26 November 2005 and another that killed Tulsiram Prajapati on 28 December 2006. Modi’s minister of state at that time, Amit Shah, is an accused in these two cases. He was recently given a plum job in the highest echelons of the BJP.

Public pressure will now mount on the CBI to take cognisance of these calls – something that the investigation agency apparently failed to do even though it was in possession of the details. At some point or the other, the kin of the victims, or human rights organizations, or both, will petition the courts to order  a probe. Moreover, even those sections of the media that are enamoured of the Gujarat chief minister’s record in office – effective and clean governance, speedy economic growth, a no-nonsense attitude to security issues etc – will find it hard to ignore the ghost of Godhra that is certain to haunt him in the weeks and months ahead.

As it happens, these weeks and months are crucial for Modi to reinforce his claim that none other than he can lead the BJP-led NDA to rout the two-term, scam-ridden, indecisive UPA in the next general elections. The one who is best placed to thwart his prime ministerial ambitions is not Rahul Gandhi, nor Nitish Kumar nor even his detractors within his own party’s fold but Zakia Jafri. She has emerged as the Mother Courage of an India that abides by the letter and spirit of its Constitution and by the ethos of its pluralistic culture.

It is a pity that there is no such Mother Courage to expose the criminal shenanigans of the likes of Jagdish Tytler and many others who lost their lives in communal riots under the watch of the Congress and that of other self-appointed votaries of secularism for decades.  But that cannot detract attention from what the courts have in store for the zealous prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi: either a squeaky-clean image of constitutional rectitude or an image that is forever tainted with bias, prejudice and worse against our minorities

Another closure report, another cover-up ? #Narendramodi


Javed Anand, Asian Age, april 20, 2013

SIT’s closure report into the Godhra riots has left far too many questions unasked, and provided answers that are highly questionable

On April 10, a Delhi court rejected, for the second time, the closure report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2009, claiming it could not find any credible evidence to chargesheet Congress leader Jagdish Tytler for his role in the massacre of innocent Sikhs in the nation’s capital in 1984. The CBI has been ordered to reinvestigate yet again.

On April 15, Zakia Jafri, a survivor of the February 28, 2002, carnage at Gulberg Society, filed a 514-page Protest Petition (along with an annexure of 983 pages and nine CDs) before a magistrate’s court in Ahmedabad challenging the closure report filed by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT). The closure report absolves Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 58 top politicians, BJP and VHP leaders, and IAS and IPS officials of criminal offences that Mrs Jafri alleged in her complaint dated June 8, 2006, were committed by them. Read the petition (www.cjponline.org) to see why it’s more than likely that the SIT’s clean chit is headed for a similar fate.
Mrs Zakia Jafri, now around 75 years of age, was an eyewitness to the gruesome killing of her husband, former Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, and 68 others at Gulberg Society, Meghaninagar, Ahmedabad, on February 28, 2002. When Jafri finally surrendered to the mob — after six long hours of nearly a hundred desperate phone calls, including to chief minister Mr Modi, drew a blank — he was dragged, paraded around with his limbs chopped, one at a time, before being flung into the raging flame. Mrs Jafri, who has since been living with her son in Surat, says that her fight for justice will continue till her last breath.
Mrs Jafri’s protest petition (backed as it is by official investigation records and documents that SIT made available to her under Supreme Court orders) not only reinforces her earlier allegations, but also accuses the SIT of a blatant cover up job — “SIT has taken great pains to disbelieve and discredit any witnesses who have spoken against the Accused No. 1 or for that matter against any accused” — and prays that all 59 accused be chargesheeted on the basis of already available evidence and that further investigations be ordered.
SIT’s closure report, which comes four years after it began investigations as ordered by the Supreme Court into the incidents following the inferno in the Sabarmati Express near Godhra train station on the morning of February 27, 2002, (in which 59 kar sevaks and others died), has left far too many questions unasked, and provided answers that are highly questionable.
Mobile phone call records establish that on receiving the news of the Godhra tragedy, the first person Mr Modi, then Gujarat chief minister and home minister (Accused No. 1 in Mrs. Jafri’s complaint and Protest Petition), got in touch with was the state’s VHP general secretary, Jaideep Patel (Accused No. 21), even before he spoke with anyone from his home department or police officials. The petition sees this communication as a link in the conspiracy chain, but SIT ignores it.
By evening Mr Modi, health minister Ashok Bhatt (Accused No. 2, now deceased), and minister of state for home, Gordhan Zadaphia (Accused No. 5), reached Godhra. VHP’s Mr Patel too was there. In Godhra, post-mortems of the dead bodies were conducted in the railway yard by a team of doctors not trained for the job, even as Sangh Parivar activists screamed retaliatory murder. Gory photographs were permitted to be taken and later widely circulated (via VHP’s pamphlets, Gujarati newspapers) to inflame passions across the state. The post-mortems were conducted in the presence of ministers, Godhra’s district magistrate and police superintendent. Under whose directions and what was the motive behind such illegal, indecent haste? The SIT closure report does not ask these questions.
Despite the then Godhra district collector Mrs Jayanti Ravi’s deposition before SIT confirming Mr Jaideep Patel’s unusual presence at a mini-Cabinet meeting in Godhra, its closure report insists that Mr Modi never met the rabble-rousing VHP leader in Godhra.
Next, a top-level decision was taken to transport the dead bodies by road to Ahmedabad in the custody of VHP leaders, Jaideep Patel and Hasmukh Patel. SIT admits that this was in violation of existing regulations, particularly Rule 223 (10-b) of Gujarat Police Manual, but the blame for this is placed on a relatively junior revenue officer in Godhra district collector’s office (Mamlatdar), M.L. Nalvaya, ignoring his deposition before SIT that he did so only under instructions from his seniors.
Earlier, at different times — late afternoon and evening — of the Godhra tragedy, mobile phone records show the location of several top officers from the chief minister’s office (CMO) in Meghaninagar. What were these officers doing in Meghaninagar, far away from the CMO in Gandhinagar, in an area where the very next day Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were mercilessly killed in Gulberg Society? The question is left unasked by SIT.
SIT buys the claim of Ahmedabad police commissioner, P.C. Pande (Accused No. 29), that the funeral procession of the dead bodies to Ahmedabad was peaceful. But police control room (PCR) records show repeated frantic messages from the police posted at Sola Civil Hospital from 3 am in the morning of February 28 onwards about violent mobs endangering the lives of hospital staff, blocking traffic, and attacking a high court
judge who happens to be a Muslim.
Around the same time, murderous mobs led by VHP, RSS, Bajrang Dal leaders begin their day-long massacre of Muslims in Gulberg Society and Naroda Patia, Naroda Gaon and elsewhere, claiming nearly 300 lives in Ahmedabad in a single day. Of the 40 persons killed in police firing that day, 36 were Muslims. PCR records also show that on February 28, while Muslim property was set flame across Ahmedabad, the Fire Brigade Department in the city seemed to be on mass leave. Repeated calls by policemen on the ground went answered by Fire Brigade stations.
From the afternoon of February 27 itself, there was a flurry of urgent “alerts” by ground-level state intelligence bureau (SIB) personnel, warning that mobs are assembling in different places in Ahmedabad and other cities. “So communal violence will occur in the city of Ahmedabad; so take preventive action,” reads one such SIB alert.
No such preventive action was taken till noon on February 28 when curfew was finally declared. By that time, however, the carnage was at its height in Gulberg Society, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patia.
IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt has deposed before SIT that he was present at the meeting called by Mr Modi late evening of February 27, where the chief minister told the assembled IAS-IPS top brass that “Hindus must be allowed to vent their anger”. Amicus curiae Ramachandran has held this to be sufficient prima facie evidence for the prosecution of Mr Modi, adding that it’s for the court to determine the veracity of Mr Bhatt’s claim.
But, perhaps, India’s top investigating agencies are simply incapable of probing into incidents of heinous mass crimes. Or do their failures suggest something more sinister?

The writer is founder trustee, Citizens for Justice and Peace, whose team of lawyers assisted Mrs Zakia Jafri in filing her protest petition


Why is Narendra Mod i- Accused No 1

Why Modi is accused no-1?

DNA Correspondent, April 16,2013


Zakia Jafri’s petition claims Modi administration had supported and ignored communal violence in 2002. The state police and administration did not pay heed to intelligence bureau record about hate speeches by right wing activists and mobilisation of mob. DNA brings excerpts of the protest petition.

l Modi contacts the then VHP leader Dr Jaideep Patel immediately after information of the Godhra tragedy comes in, even before he meets home department officials

l Sinister decision was taken in ‘mini-cabinet’ meeting at Godhra where Patel was present

l Administration and police were deliberately paralyzed and neutralized by conspiracy hatched by Modi and the then DGP K Chakravarti, the then police commissioner PC Pande, additional chief secretary (home) Ashok Narayan and other important officials

l Victory of Modi in Rajkot by-election a week before Godhra riots with a very slender margin

l Ehsan Jafri had been active campaigner against Modi.

l Meeting at Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002 night effectively neutralized the police and administration.

l Alert messages of State Intelligence Bureau (SIT) of provocation and build up of mobs as well as showing possibilities of violence were ignored.

l The SIT deliberately conceals and ignored during the probe regarding documents of SIB regarding hate speeches issued by RSS and VHP workers.


IMMEDIATE RELEASE- SC Issues Notice to Gujarat Government (Zakia Jafri v/s Narendra Modi)


January 17, 2013





The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Gujarat government and stayed Magistrate Ganatra’s order dated 27.11.2013 closing Zakia Jafri’s right to file a Protest Petition. Smt Zakia Jafri had, on 8.6.2006 filed a complaint alleging a sinister and wide level conspiracy to allow violence, deliberately subvert the strict directions to maintain order that led to the loss of over 2,500 minority lives. Chief Minister Narendra Modi, cabinet colleagues, senior IPS and IAS officers are among the 61 accused in this complaint. The Supreme Court had ordered investigation into the allegations on 27.4.2009 in the special leave petition filed by Smt Jafri and the Citizens for Justice and Peace. (SLP 1088/2008) Finally on 12.9.2011 the Supreme Court had directed that the matter be placed for consideration before a Magistrate under Section 173(2) and all documents related to the investigation be provided to the complainant.


We are praying for the right to get access to all investigations reports under Section 173(8) of the CRPC. Ever since the matter came up before the Magistrate in Ahmedabad, the SIT has been resisting making any documents available. An earlier Magistrate Bhatt (later transferred) granted Smt Jafri documents by an order dated 10.4.2012. Even after that, the SIT has been doggedly trying to conceal those further investigation reports that were submitted before the Supreme Court by Shri Malhotra and Shri Raghavan between May 2010 and July 2011 as they take a very different view from the Final Closure Report submitted by Himanshu Shukla on 8.2.2012. In his two reports to the Supreme Court, Amicus Curiae Shri Raju Ramachandran had come to the conclusion that there was sufficient material to prosecute chief minister Narendra Modi and at least two senior policemen.

The next date for Zakia Jafri’s special leave petition is 7th February 2013. The CJP is assisting her legally in the case. This Special Leave Petition filed by Smt Jafri assisted by Citizens for Justice and Peace was specifically filed to get clarity on the Order of the Supreme Court that the SIT came misinterpreting before the Magistrate (SLP 8989/2012). This first came up for hearing on December 3, 2012. On December 10 last year the SC had asked Chairman SIT RK Raghavan to answer how previous statements of accused collected during investigation had not been made available to the complainant. Thereafter on December 15, 2012 about 1500 pages of documents were made available.

Now the pending issue in the matter remains the further investigation reports filed by SIT. The Supreme Court has also asked Amicus Curiae Shri Raju Ramachandran to assist the court in the matter.

Senior advocates Kamini Jaiswal and Sanjay Parikh appeared for Smt Jafri and CJP assisted by Ms. Aparna Bhat and Mr. Ramesh Pukhrambam. Advocate Mihir Desai has also been appearing in this matter.

Teesta Setalvad
Secretary and Trustee



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