Sunday, March 28, 2010

SIT trial of Gujarat Minister will have long lasting impact on the politics of Gujarat. Narendra Modi was questioned for long nine hours in front of camera. There are speculations on what was recorded.
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Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi set another record by becoming the first in-office CM to be questioned in a criminal complaint of mass murder by the Special Investigating Team constituted by the Supreme Court of India. The questioning lasted 9 hours in two rounds.

None of the three officers from Gujarat on SIT were present during the questioning session. Even SIT chairman R.K. Raghavan monitored the happenings from from the police officers' mess in Ahmedabad, The “one-to-one” in-camera questioning session was headed by A.K. Malhotra, retired DIG of the CBI. He is also the investigating officer in Zakia Jaffrey’s complaint against Narendra Modi and 62 others in connection with the 2002 communal riots in the State.

After the SIT trial there are many speculations moving around. Will this bring an end to the media trials or would lead to filing of the FIR by SIT? This will all depend on the preliminary investigation based on the replies recorded by Narendra Modi.

Mr. Modi was not aided by a lawyer when he reached to the SIT office. Arun Jetelly, BJP leader and supreme court lawyer had a meeting with the Chief Minister between the two rounds of interrogations. After the first round in the evening he spoke to media persons briefly. He reiterated that his appearance was a stunning reply to those vested interests groups who were spreading canards against him. He hoped that his appearance before the SIT would end this.

Apparently hitting out at some of his critics who had earlier alleged that the Gujarat cadre IPS officers in the SIT were “maneuverable,” Mr. Modi said none of the three State cadre IPS officers, who were members of the SIT, was present during the questioning. He pointed out that the SIT was appointed by the Supreme Court and was functioning directly under its supervision.

Mr. Malhotra did not speak to any media person after the trial, however the TV channels gave the numbers of the questions shot to the CM to be 68 out of which he replied 62 in the first round. In case if the Modi has not been able to rebut any of the allegations in the course of his examination, SIT could recommend the FIR in its report. If an FIR opens up the possibility of Modi being questioned afresh to record his statement under Section 161 CrPC.

Three activists Teesta Setalwad, Mukul Sinha and Fr. Cedric Prakash with the support of certain group of media have been successful in pressurizing the investigating process and keeping the issue alive. Their roles and intentions have not received much acceptance here in Gujarat, but outside Gujarat these are influential groups.

After the constitution of the SIT by the Apex court to get the like minded officers Teesta has been filing cases in the Supreme Court for various causes. One of the SIT member Shivanand Jha is named as accussed in the riot cases. She has appealed the apex court to reconstitute the team. The petition is due for admission.

She is the main force in bringing all the witnesses including the widow of Ehsan Jafri together. The future of this proceeding will also rewrite the equations in Gujarat politics which is centered around Narendra Modi today.

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