SC proposes to form SIT for investigating Guj riots

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New Delhi, Mar 25 (UNI) The Supreme Court today came out with a proposal to get the major cases related to the 2002 Gujarat communal riots further investigated by a five member Special Investigating Team (SIT).

The state of Gujarat suggested the names of three senior IPS officers of the state, namely, Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia, all officer of IG rank, to be included in SIT.

A bench, comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, P Sadhasivam and Aftab Alam also suggested the names of two retired IPS officers including former CBI director R K Raghavan and retired senior IPS officer of U P cadre C B Satpathy to be included in the SIT.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatagi appearing for state of Gujarat told the apex court that he will seek instructions on the issue of inclusion of the two retired IPS officers in the proposed SIT.

The apex court granted time till tomorrow to the Gujarat government to respond to its suggestion and made it clear that it will pass formal orders on the issue tomorrow.

Today's directions came on the petitions filed by the National Human Rights Commission and others seeking the reinvestigation in riot related cases by some independent investigating agency like CBI as the state police was trying to shield the real culprits, most of whom belonged to the Sangh Parivar. According to them, the entire investigation was conducted in a shoddy manner and the state police had closed investigation in nearly 2000 cases.

The major cases in which large number of killings took place are to be investigated by the SIT. The cases include Gulbarg Society in which former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and his family were burnt alive by the rioting mobs, Naroda Gaon and Naroda Patia, Sundarpura, Ode, Dipla Darwaja and Godhra train burning incidents and FIRS were registered in relation to the rioting incidents which took place at the seven places mentioned above.

The apex court also made it clear that the SIT will be free to reinvestigate or further investigate the major cases and it will be free to record the statements of witnesses and also to reexamine and recall witnesses or the complainants who have already been examined earlier.

In a major shift in its stand, the Narendra Modi government, today made it clear before the apex court that it was ready to record the statements of any witnesses in the riot cases. Earlier, the stand of the state government was that only aggrieved persons can approach the police and not the witnesses.

A large number of people belonging to the minority community were allegedly killed in the communal riots following the Godhra train burning incident in which over 50 Kar sevaks were burnt alive.

UNI SC LPB HS1728

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