The Supreme Court-constituted special investigation team (SIT) reinvestigating eight most gruesome massacre cases of 2002 Gujarat riots, their trigger, the Godhra train carnage, and the role of chief minister Narendra Modi, has been surrounded by controversy since formation. What’s more, even the apex court has pulled up the agency it formed in 2008.
When set up, the SIT had five members including three IPS officers from Gujarat: Geetha Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia.
As the agency began its probe, activists and riots victims alleged Johri and Jha were trying to weaken the cases against powerful politicians and public functionaries.
Subsequently, the Supreme Court ordered removal of Jha and Johri and new members recommended by SIT chief RK Raghavan were appointed.
Rights activist Teesta Setalvad has said in an email to mediapersons the SIT did not follow leads of conspiracy given since 2008.
In February 2011, the Supreme Court had slammed the SIT saying the evidence the agency had collected did not match its inferences. The observation came when the apex court directed the SIT to conduct further probe on Zakia Jafri’s complaint against Modi.
Zakia Jafri’s husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was killed along with 68 others by rioters in Gulbarg Housing Society.
In May 2011, the apex court had again pulled up SIT, directing amicus curiae (friend of the court) Raju Ramchandran to independently assess the agency’s report and meet the witnesses and police officials.
Ramchandran, in his report to the apex court, has reportedly criticised the SIT, which has purportedly sought closure of the case against Modi and others citing lack of prosecutable evidence.