The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Gujarat government and the CBI on a petition seeking an independent probe into the Pandharwada mass grave case in which 21 bodies of post-Godhra riots victims were exhumed.
A Bench of Justice B N Agarwal and Justice PP Naolekar asked the Gujarat Government and the CBI to file within four weeks their response to the petition filed by Ameenabibi Habib Rasool and Citizen for Peace and Justice. Ameenabibi's son was among 21 Muslims killed during the riots in Pandharwada village of Panchmahal district.
The petitioners have challenged a Gujarat High Court's order dismissing their plea for a CBI probe into the matter. Appearing for the petitioners, senior counsel Harish Salve submitted that the matter should be submitted to the CBI for a probe, and the bodies should be handed over to the relatives of the victims for decent burial.
He said the bodies of 21 victims killed in 2002 riots were exhumed from Pandharwada in December 2005. Of the 21 bodies, DNA of 8 had matched with that of their relatives. "At least the bodies of these eight victims could be given to their relatives,” he submitted. However, the court did not pass any orders and said let the state government file its reply.
Salve said the state govt and the police had maintained that the bodies had been handed over to the relatives after conducting post-mortem on them. However, bodes were found in their own clothes and not in the usual white cloth wrapped on them after the autopsy, Salve said. The matter came to light when relatives of some of those killed had found skulls and bones near Pannam river December 27, 2005. The next day, Ameenabibi filed a petition in the Gujarat High Court along with Citizens for Justice and Peace seeking a CBI inquiry into the case. The High Court had directed the state government to hand over the task of collecting samples of the skeletal remains to the CBI. The DNA samples of victims’ relatives were sent to Hyderabad for tests. The reports submitted to HC in May last year stated the DNA of 8 of the skeletal remains matched with their that of their surviving relatives. However, the Gujarat HC dismissed the petition on December 2006.