The Supreme Court-appointed SIT, which probed the Gujarat 2002 riots cases, appears to have desisted from confronting chief minister Narendra Modi on the presence of senior police officer Sanjiv Bhatt at the controversial meeting on the night of Godhra train carnage incident.
The SIT, headed by former CBI chief RK Raghavan, grilled Modi for more than nine hours in March 2010 and though the CM brought up the issue, the matter was not pursued.
The issue of whether Bhatt (now suspended) was present at the meeting called by Modi hours after 58 Hindus were burnt alive at Godhra on February 27, 2002, is now at the heart of the disagreement between the SIT reports and the SC-appointed lawyer to assist it in the matter, Raju Ramachandran.
In response to a question by the SIT on where this meeting took place and the ministers who attended it, Modi said all top state police and administrative officials were present.
"As far as I recollect, the then ADG (intelligence) was not present. Sanjiv Bhatt, the then deputy commissioner (intelligence) did not attend this high level meeting," Modi said.
The SIT did not pursue the Bhatt issue, though it quizzed Modi about the roles and statements of other officers with specific references to their names.
The SIT concluded that Bhatt's claim that he was present at the meeting was 'incorrect'.
The probe team also termed Bhatt's statement as "unreliable" in which he had said that Modi told the top officials at the meeting :"Hindus should be permitted to vent their anger in the aftermath of Godhra."
But Ramachandran in his final report, has said, "There is no documentary material of any nature, which can establish that Bhatt was not present in the February 27 meeting," he wrote.
"Further, in my opinion, it may not be proper to disbelieve Bhatt at this stage, only because the other officers have not supported his statement."