SIT acted as a judge by giving clean chit to Modi, says Zakia

Arguing against the clean chit given to Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) for their alleged role in the 2002 post-Godhra riots, petitioner Zakia Jafri's lawyer said Wednesday that "SIT acted as a judge rather than an investigating team" and did the job which is supposed to be done by the court.

Jafri's lawyer, Mihir Desai, submitted his arguments before the metropolitan magistrate B J Ganatra related to the alleged meeting at Modi's residence on February 27, 2002. It was in this meeting in which Modi had reportedly said "Let Hindus vent out their anger" following the burning of Sabarmati Express at Godhra railway station.

Desai said that statements of IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who claims he was present in the meeting, retired DGP R B Sreekumar, late BJP minister Haren Pandya and his father Vitthal Pandya are enough to summon the accused and start trial. He said it was up to the court to decide whether these statements were true or not.

Besides, Desai argued that there were three other things which the SIT didn't take into consideration in their report. He said that the minutes of the meeting at CM's house, the log book of Sanjiv Bhatt's vehicle (which he reportedly took to attend the said meeting) and fax register of the intelligence messages sent out by Bhatt, are all missing.

"SIT discredited Sanjiv Bhatt's statements. Bhatt may be Dawood Ibrahim's man, but whether he has to be believed or not is the job of the court and not of the police. Same is the case with Haren Pandya and others," Desai told the court.

Desai also read out the statements of several officers posted at the Chief Minister's Office, including Swarnakanta Verma, then acting chief secretary, who was present at the alleged meeting, on how these officers changed their statements before the same SIT. Desai also alleged that officers who did nothing to stop the riots were given good posts while those who performed their duties were allegedly shunted out.

He read out the statements of suspended IAS officer Pradip Sharma and his IPS brother Kuldip Sharma which, he said, were ignored by the SIT in its investigation. "Pradip Sharma has stated that during the riots, the then secretary to CM, Arvind Sharma, had rung him up to tell his IPS brother (Kuldip Sharma, retired DGP) to go slow on Hindu rioters. Kuldip has corroborated this fact in his deposition and said that he refused to comply with CMO's instruction and performed his duty," Desai submitted before the court.

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