For the first time since the riots in Gujarat eight years ago, state Chief Minister Narendra Modi on late Saturday subjected himself to marathon questioning by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT in two sessions lasting for more than nine hours.
The controversial BJP leader, who faces allegations of omission and commission with regard to the mob attack on a housing society in which a former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and 68 others were killed, drove to the SIT office in the heart of Gandhinagar where he was questioned by a team of officers headed by A K Malhotra, a former CBI DIG.
After a marathon session lasting over five hours from 12 noon to 5 PM Modi left the SIT office telling reporters that he would come back in the evening.
Modi, 59, returned to the SIT office at 9 PM and faced a second round of questioning for four hours ending at 1 AM because he was keen that the entire exercise be completed today itself.
Emerging from the second round of quizzing at the SIT office at the old secretariat building, the Chief Minister told mediapersons that the investigators told him that his question was over.
"I have been told by SIT that your work is over", Modi said.
Though there was no official word on the questioning, Modi is said to have replied to 62 of the 68 questions put to him in the first session.
This was the first time that Modi was probed since the carnage eight years back.
"This was the first time in eight years that someone wanted to speak to me on the issue and I attended that", Modi said.
Taking a dig at his critics, he said "God give good sense to those who said I have not spoken for eight years".
"I hope that today's incident will give good sense to those who are keen to spread misinformation and those who spread lies", the Chief Minister said.
Modi claimed he had anwsered all questions put by the SIT and that he recalled to the extent possible the sequence of events that had taken place eight years ago.
The Chief Minister said his statement was recorded by the SIT investigators after which he signed it.
Asked what sort of questions he was asked, Modi said "I cannot share that with you because the SIT has to submit its report to the Supreme Court.
When pointed out that he had been in the dock for the last eight years over the riots, a smilig Modi said "you have still kept me in the dock".
"Vistaar se batcheet ki (we spoke in detail)," he said adding "under the Indian constitution, law is supreme. As a common man, CM, I am bound by the Indian constitution and law. No one can be above the law."
After the first round of questioning, a smiling Modi emerged from the SIT office at the old secretariat building and told mediapersons that "I am taking a break from questioning".
SIT Chief R K Raghavan was not present in his office when Modi appeared in the first session in response to the panel's summons.
Modi became the first chief minister of any state to be questioned in a criminal complaint of mass murder after he and his administration were accused of aiding and abetting riots in one area in Ahmedabad.
Ending the suspense as to where and when he would appear after he was summoned for questioning in connection with a complaint of Zakia Jafry, widow of Eshan Jafry, Modi reached the SIT office at around noon.
The complaint filed by Zakia among other things alleged there was a wider conspiracy by Modi and his administration and that he had instructed officers not to take action.
"My appearance here is a "karara jawab" (fitting reply) to my detractors. I have given a resounding reply to those who doubted my intentions. I hope such talks by vested interests will stop," Modi said.