Published: 24th June 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: Supreme Court dismisses Zakia Jafri's plea on 2002 Gujarat riots. What does this mean for Modi?
The widow of a man murdered during one of the many mass killings during the Gujarat riots of 2002 just had a protest petition rejected by the SC. Here's what it was about
The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given to Narendra Modi and others filed by Zakia Ehsan Jafri. Does the verdict close a chapter in the catastrophe that was Gujarat 2002, almost 20 years later? We take a look at the chain of events that led up to this moment.
Who is Zakia Jafri?
Zakia Jafri is the wife of Ehsan Jafri, a Congress Member of Parliament from Gujarat, who was massacred at the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad along with 68 other people on February 28, 2002. According to reports, Ehsan Jafri had unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade the violent mob that entered the Gulberg Society and killed 69 people. The massacre at Gulberg Society was allegedly one of the first mass killings reported during the Gujarat riots. Interestingly, they took place only a few kilometres away from Circuit House Annexe in Ahmedabad where then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was "monitoring" the situation in the state. Modi has claimed that he did not find out about the incident at Gulberg Society until five hours later.
What happened during the Gujarat riots of 2002?
Communal riots were triggered in Gujarat in late February 2002 after a train coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying 'kar sevaks' back from Ayodhya allegedly caught on fire, killing 59 people. A day later, mobs went on the rampage across Gujarat, approximately killing more than 790 Muslims and 250 Hindus.
What petition did Zakia Jafri file?
On June 8, 2006, Zakia Jafri had filed a complaint against Modi and others of a "larger conspiracy" behind the riots. This case was put on hold after the Special Public Prosecutor in charge resigned. In February 2012, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) appointed by the Supreme Court submitted its closure report, where it gave a clean chit to Modi and other top officials of the Gujarat government at the time, stating that there was no "prosecutable evidence" against them. However, this SIT has been accused of not challenging the claims made by Modi and his team with various evidence on hand.
What is the timeline of subsequent petitions filed by Zakia Jafri?
In April 2013, Zakia Jafri filed a protest petition against this clean chit in a local court. Her petition was rejected in the local court and then subsequently in the Gujarat high court as well in 2017. She filed a plea in the Supreme Court in 2018 and the court began hearing her case in October 2021. In December that year, the court reserved judgement in the case. It was today that this judgement was released, where the court dismissed Jafri's petition and upheld the clean chit to Modi and 63 others in the case.
What allegations have been made against Narendra Modi in the Gujarat riots case?
Then Chief Minister Modi has been accused of not attempting to control violent Hindu mobs that were out to kill Muslims in revenge for the Godhra incident. According to a report by the BBC, Sanjiv Bhatt, a senior police officer in the Gujarat Intelligence Bureau at the time of the riots swore in a statement that during a meeting on the night before the riots, that is on February 27, Narendra Modi said that the Muslim community "needs to be taught a lesson".