(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 31, 2009
The Accused In The Mass Murder
Modi And 62 Others Face Investigation
ALMOST three years ago, on June 8, 2006, a
mammoth 119-page complaint was sent by Zakiya Ahsan Jaffri to the then
general of police (DGP), Gujarat, P C Pande, who, ironically, is listed
number 29 in the document. The legal action group, Citizens for Justice
Peace (CJP), through its secretary and trustee, Teesta Setalvad, had
her with legal assistance in assimilating the material required for the
historic exercise, which took over five months to draft. Although token
gestures were made by the
Eight months after the Gujarat police
spite of clear directives in law and practice, to register a first
report (FIR) and investigate the offences, the complainant and CJP
filed a petition in the
Months later the petitioners filed a special leave petition in the apex court challenging the high court order. On March 3, 2008 – the first date of hearing – the apex court not only issued notice to the state and union but also appointed counsel, Prashant Bhushan, as amicus curiae to assist the court. Recognising the specificity and enormity of the complaint, the Supreme Court had observed, "What does a citizen do when it has such voluminous evidence and the police simply refuses to investigate? What is the remedy available for a citizen?"
After the usual logistical delays the matter was ultimately heard on April 27, 2009. By then the Supreme Court had also, on March 26, 2008, directed the appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by former CBI director, Dr R K Raghavan, to not only reinvestigate the eight other major trials but to oversee prosecution of the accused in these trials as well.
Acknowledging the worth and magnitude of this complaint, the Supreme Court, in a historic move, ordered the SIT to investigate the allegations and submit a report to the apex court within three months. Advocates Aparna Bhat, Ramesh Pukhrambam, M S Ganesh and Sanjay Parikh appeared for the petitioners during the proceedings in the Supreme Court.
Of the 63 persons named as accused in this complaint, 12 are politicians who were, in 2006, holding the rank of cabinet ministers in the state cabinet. Four of these 12, including Narendra Modi, the chief minister himself (who also holds several cabinet portfolios, including home, transport, industry and information and broadcasting), Amit Shah (minister of state for home), Indravijaysinh K. Jadeja (minister for roads and buildings) and Prabhatsinh Chauhan (minister of state for tribal development), continue in positions of power and authority. Ashok Bhatt, minister for law and judiciary until 2007, is currently the speaker of the state assembly.
Of the remaining accused, three are MLAs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seven are office-bearers of the state BJP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal (including Dr Praveen Togadia, international general secretary of the VHP), 10 are officials of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and 28 are Indian Police Service (IPS) officers.
Accused number 23 in the complaint, Keshavram
Shastri, former chairman of the VHP’s