By Shruti Shreya:
The million, nay billion rupees question on everybody’s mind is whether Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, back in the race for Prime Minister, now that he has been given the clean chit on his involvement in the 2002 Gulbarga Society case, an after-math of the Gujarat riots. The Special Investigation Team [SIT], set up by the Supreme Court to probe into this case, on Tuesday cleared Narendra Modi and 57 others of any allegations on their involvement in the matter.
The SIT investigation began after a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of Congress ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, who was burnt alive in a mob hit at his home in Gulbarga Society on February 28, 2002, which alleged that Modi and 57 should be held responsible for the riots.
The SIT however reported that their investigation found no evidence of Modi’s involvement in the matter and as Ravi Shankar Prasad, the spokesperson of BJP put it, “Investigation cannot be continued on manufactured evidence”, sending a wave of relief through the Bharatiya Janata Party members. The BJP, including Modi and the 57 other officials named in this petition, are enjoying a victory they say has come by after 10 years of fighting against the hate Modi campaign running across the country.
But while the accused are heaving a big sigh of relief, are the celebrations too short-sighted? As our side-view mirrors say: “Things maybe further than they actually appear”, so may be the case for Modi. What is being wrongly masquerading around as “clean chit” is actually just a part of the SIT report that concludes that given the lack of evidence there was no way to prosecute Modi for the incident. The actual ruling is yet to be given once the complainant responds to the recommendation for closure. So in reality, the case is far from being closed, and the ball now is in Jafri’s “court”.
The Ahmedabad metropolitan magistrate MS Bhatt’s court on Tuesday has actually just suggested a closure and has ordered that a copy of the SIT report and related documents be given to Zakia within 30 days, so that she may have the right to reject the closure report and pursue her private criminal complaint against Modi and others by filing for a “protest petition” or accept the recommended closure. Jafri however is “pained” by the Supreme courts’ decision and has decided to take it forward. Her son, Tanvir, is still hopeful for justice despite it all and believes that a simple report cannot establish the truth and only a magistrate in his final verdict shall decide whether there is any substance to the SIT report or not.
So the big question is whether, with the final hurdle almost out of the way, all that is left for Narendra Modi now is the last lap, the final sprint towards the finish line or will he succumb to the barricade?