Enough evidence to put Modi on trial for 2002 riots: Zakia

Challenging the clean chit given to Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in 2002 Gujarat riots, complainant Zakia Jafri, widow of ex-Congress parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, argued in the court Thursday that there was enough material evidence to chargesheet Modi and set the case for trial.

Mumbai-based lawyer Mihir Desai, appearing on behalf of Zakia, orally submitted before the court that there was enough evidence against Modi and other accused officers and politicians to chargesheet against them and start trial in the case. For nearly two hours, Desai's argument revolved around the meeting on the night of February 27, 2002 when Modi allegedly told his officers to "let Hindus vent out their anger".

It was the same day when 59 kar sevaks, who were retuning from Ayodhya, were burnt alive in the Sabarmati Express at Godhra. The incident led to statewide riots in which hundreds of people, mostly from the minority community, were killed.

Desai cited the statements of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, retired Director General of Police R B Sreekumar, slain BJP leader Haren Pandya and his father Vitthal Pandya, among others, which were submitted before Nanavati Commission which probed the 2002 riots. In their statements, they had claimed that "Modi had ordered to go soft on Hindu rioters and let them vent their anger".

"The merit of these statements will be tested during the trial. At this stage, if the statements are true, it would amount to abetment and conspiracy. If these statements are correct, there is no option but to file the chargesheet," Desai told the court.

While reading out Modi's statement given to SIT in 2010 during the investigation, Desai hinted that Modi knew about the contents of Bhatt's affidavit even though the latter had deposed himself in secrecy and had requested anonymity. Bhatt had given his statement saying that he was present at the meeting at Modi's residence.

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