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Gujarat riot myths busted

Gujarat riot myths busted

Author: Abraham Thomas
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 14, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/169490/Gujarat-riot-myths-busted.html

The so-called human rights activist, Teesta Setalvad - who paraded the Gujarat riot victims before the Supreme Court and claimed they had been denied justice - suffered embarrassment on Monday after a Special Investigation Team (SIT) gave sufficient grounds for the apex court to doubt the authenticity of incidents highlighted by her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace.

The SIT, headed by former CBI Director RK Raghavan along with former DGP CB Satpathy and three senior IPS officers - Geetha Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia - had been entrusted with the enquiry into post-Godhra riot incidents in Godhra, Gulbarg Society, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya and Sardarpura.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the State, read out portions of the report that refuted the petitioner's charge of the State's complicity in the riots.

Pointing out a specific instance, the SIT report stated how the evidence of 22 witnesses was "suspect" owing to the identical submissions made in their affidavits submitted to the court. On enquiry, the SIT found that all the 22 affidavits were drafted, typed and printed from the same computer, giving sufficient grounds to believe they were "tutored". When the SIT questioned those who signed the affidavits, it was shocked to learn that these complainants were not even aware of the incidents.

Referring to another instance that exposed the Citizens for Justice and Peace's much 'trumpeted' charges, Rohtagi said the SIT investigation found untrue allegation about a gangrape of a pregnant woman Kauser Bano, whose stomach was allegedly pierced by sword and her foetus killed.

Even the instance of dumping of bodies into a well at Naroda Patiya and a charge of the police allegedly shielding accused persons in murder of a British national was found to be untrue, Rohtagi said.

Firing a salvo at the NGO, Rohtagi said, "It is clear from the report that the horrendous allegations made by the NGO were false. Cyclostyled affidavits were supplied by a social activist and the allegations made in them were untrue," he added, with an obvious reference to Setalvad.

The NGO's counsel Aparna Bhatt objected to such comments being made on the strength of the report, which had also added several persons as accused in the case. Refusing to be drawn into the slanging match between the opposing parties, the Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said, "In riot cases, more the delay, there is likelihood of falsity creeping in. So, there should be a designated court to fast track the trials."

The court asked the State Government, petitioners and amicus curiae senior advocate Harish Salve to suggest recommendations on these lines. Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Centre, suggested selection of public prosecutors on consultation from the SIT. Salve informed the court that the matter would be taken up with the SIT. Based on a suggestion by another NGO petitioner counsel Indira Jaising to evolve a witness protection system, Salve assured that the same would also be discussed in the light of the sensitivity attached to the case. The bunch of petitions was posted for further hearing after next week.


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