Ghost of 2002 riots returned, but Modi stood tall | india | Hindustan Times
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Ghost of 2002 riots returned, but Modi stood tall

india Updated: Dec 27, 2010 10:45 IST
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The ghost of the 2002 Gujarat riots continued to haunt chief minister Narendra Modi who was grilled for the first time by Supreme Court-appointed SIT in 2009 while his close aide Amit Shah was forced to resign from the cabinet after he came in the CBI net in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

But the year, which also saw Gujarat kicking off golden jubilee celebrations to mark the 50th year of its foundation, ended on a happy note for Modi's BJP as it swept the civic and local body polls and reports claiming that the chief minister was given a clean chit by the Special Investigation Team (SIT).

The Modi government was involved in a standoff with Governor Kamla Beniwal over compulsory voting bill for the local body polls. Though the bill was stalled, Gujarat did see the first e-votes of the country being polled in the elections to six municipal corporations held in October.

The SIT questioned 60-year-old Modi in two sessions for over nine hours on March 27 on a complaint by Jakia Jaffery, widow of former Congress MP Eshan Jaffery who was killed in Gulburg society during the 2002 riots. This was the first time that Modi had to give answers to an investigating agency on allegations of complicity in 2002 post-Godhra riots.

The SIT has submitted its report on the questioning of Modi in a sealed cover to the Supreme Court. Modi described the questioning as a difficult moment of his life.

Amid high drama, his trusted aide and junior home minister Shah was arrested by CBI on July 25, in connection with the Sohrabuddin encounter of 2005. He resigned from Modi cabinet a day before his arrest.

The investigating agency, to which the Supreme Court handed over the investigations, accused Shah of being the main conspirator and charged him with murder, kidnapping and extortion. After failing to reply to two CBI summons, Shah made a dramatic appearance in a hurriedly-convened press conference at the state BJP headquarter four days after he was served the first notice. He then drove to CBI office and was arrested by agency officials.

Shah is now out on bail after Gujarat High Court accepted his plea. However, the CBI has approached the Supreme Court against the HC decision, after which the apex court has barred him from entering Gujarat till his case is decided.

The local body elections held in October after these two episodes were being considered here as a litmus test for the BJP and Modi. The BJP won elections in all six municipal corporation, 21 out of 24 district panchayats, 42 out of 53 municipalities and 145 taluka panchayats out of 208 routing the main opposition Congress.