New Delhi: The Supreme Court has set November 19 as the date for hearing Zakia Jafri’s plea against Gujarat high court’s acquittal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 riots. Her husband, former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was killed in the Gulmarg society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
According to the Indian Express, Zakia will challenge the high court acquittal of then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, other politicians and senior officials. This decision came after a magistrate’s court upheld the findings the Special Investigation Team’s closure report. Ruling out “prosecutable evidence” against the accused, the report closed the investigation. The report gave a clean chit to the accused.
The SIT was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2009 – two years after Zakia Jafri began demanding that the police register cases against Modi and others in 2006. Finally looking into Modi’s alleged involvement in the matter in 2012, the SIT filed its closure report a year later. The report, upholding a magistrate court ruling in 2012, rejected Zakia’s allegations.
Zakia then moved the Gujarat high court in an attempt to challenge the findings of the investigation in 2014.
In October 2017, the high court upheld the findings of the SIT report and the magistrate court’s decision to acquit Modi and 58 others. The court also rejected Jafri’s allegation that the case was part of a “larger conspiracy”. However, the high court permitted Jafri to demand a fresh probe into the matter.
In 2016, a special court convicted 24 of the 66 accused in the the Gulberg Society case. Twenty four of the accused were acquitted, including BJP leaders Bipin Patel and K.G. Erda – who was the deputy police superintendent at the time. Critics hold the shoddy closure report responsible for the poor conviction rate in this case.
Since the SIT filed its closure report exculpating Modi and other leaders of leading and inciting communal violence across the state, critics on both sides have drawn attention to the loopholes in its findings. One of the most glaring contradiction being that the findings of the earlier 2010 SIT report on the Godhra riots were critical of Modi’s role, whereas the 2012 report held a lenient view in the matter.
Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were killed by mobs who attacked Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. The attack came on the heels of the Godhra train massacre, which was the flashpoint of widespread communal riots in the state. The Gulberg Society massacre lasted for six hours, during which people were dragged out of their homes, hacked and burned to death.