Godhra riots: SIT report confirms charges against Modi

The Special Investigative Team that probed the 2002 Godhra riots has indicted Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on many counts, but says there isn't enough substantiation to prosecute him.

Tehelka magazine has accessed the full SIT report, and says, "for the first time, there is damning official confirmation of many things victims and human rights groups have been accusing Modi of."

The SIT was set up on instructions from the Supreme Court. Many TV channels and newspapers had reported, on the basis of a partial reading of the report, said Modi had got a clean chit from the SIT.

Tehelka's Ashish Khetan writes: "Far from giving Modi a clean chit, in its report dated 12 May 2010 that the Supreme Court has kept under wraps, the SIT found Modi guilty on many counts: a communal mindset, inflammatory speeches, destruction of crucial records, appointment of Sangh members as public, illegal positioning of ministers in police control rooms during the riots, and persecution of neutral officers."

Tehelka reveals, among other things:

1. The police did not investigate the role of BJP and VHP members in the riots, the SIT has found.

2. The bodies of victims of the Godhra arson (where a mob set fire to a railway coach) were handed over to VHP members, and inflamed passions. The SIT blames a junior officer for this action.

3. The SIT says the Gujarat government requisitioned the army quickly, but does not ask why it was not deployed in time.

4. Top policeman R R Sreekumar testifies to many unconstitutional acts by Modi, but the SIT says other policemen are unwilling to corroborate what he says.

5. The SIT admits it has not examined several crucial records, and questioned several people in the know.

The article wonders why SIT chairman RK Raghavan claims there isn't enough justification for him to recommend further action against Modi “under the law”.

It asks: "The question then is do we need to change our laws? Or change their selective application? How is it that, to name just one case, men like Binayak Sen — reputed doctor and human rights champion — can be sentenced to life imprisonment on extremely flimsy evidence and on much lighter allegations?"

The article concludes with a note on why the events of 2002 must be investigated and the guilty nailed: "Reconciliation can only follow on truthtelling. In pursuing the story of the Gujarat riots, much more is at stake than individuals like Modi or political parties like the BJP. This story is about the future of this country. It’s about basic questions: Can we allow the horrors of the 2002 Gujarat riots or the 1984 Sikh riots to repeat themselves? Can we dull our ideas of fair play? Can we allow the idea of India to erode by the day?"

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