By Sushil Kutty
Now, there is one more reason why the Muslim minority will not trust the Supreme Court of India. Earlier, there was Afzal Guru, as cited by Afreen Javed, Prayagraj riots kingpin Muhammad Javed’s daughter. June 24, the apex court should have thought twice before it upheld the “clean chit” given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by the Gujarat High Court in the “larger conspiracy” case slapped against him by Zakia Jafri whose husband Ehsan Jafri met a brutal end in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
At the time, the refrain was the Gujarat riots were the “action-reaction” to Godhra. Ehsan Jafri, who was a Congress MP at the time, was dragged out of his home in Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, and slaughtered by a rampaging mob. Ehsan’s wife Zakia Jafri is since then fighting a lone, and now losing, battle for justice for her husband and 68 others who were killed in Gulberg Society.
Gujarat 2002 left more than 2000 dead, the overwhelming number of them Muslims. Then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee took note of how Gujarat was left to the mercy of marauding mobs, armed with tridents and swords, their blood-curdling war-cries paralyzing victims where they stood.
Vajpayee with Chief Minister Narendra Modi by his side spoke of “Raj Dharma” and how it was found to be lacking in those who ruled Gujarat in 2002, a clear indictment of Modi and his government. Modi survived to rewrite history, though he went through fire, hauled up before a SIT and put through grilling questions lasting several hours, always escaping with a clean chit, like he did in the “larger conspiracy” behind Ehsan Jafri killing case.
The original ‘clean chit’ was given by the SIT probing the killings and upheld by the Gujarat High Court. Friday, June 24, the Supreme Court confirmed the clean chit. In language that was jarring to Zakia Jafri, the top court said, “We don’t countenance the submission of the appellant (Zakia Jafri) regarding infraction of rule of law regarding investigation and the approach of the Magistrate and the HIgh Court in dealing with the final report”.
Zakia Jafri’s appeal was found “devoid of merits”, and deserving to be dismissed. The SIT had found no “prosecutable evidence”. Also, that petitioner No.2 Teesta Setalvad had “vested interests” and wanted to “keep the (Gujarat riots) pot boiling.”
For Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 24 would be counted among the days of satisfaction. It also marks Modi as somebody who weathered a plethora of allegations and walked away with clean chits. This, when there are people who believe that Modi should have been handed a pink slip instead of the clean chit.
For Modi, Gujarat 2002 is best left to the past, forgotten! It made him a pariah in the eyes of billions, and the media wouldn’t leave him alone, dogging his steps like blood-sucking leeches. Internationally, country after country refused him entry to their jurisdictions. Modi’s Islamphobia was highlighted throughout the globe.
All that changed May 26, 2014 when he took the oath of Prime Minister of India, and got visas to all those countries which had declared him persona non grata. Eight years on, Modi has hailed himself ‘Vishwaguru’ and has won plaudits from world leaders including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said at the COP26, “Narendra Modi is actually producing on his ‘One Sun One Grid One World’” promise.
The latest ‘clean chit’ to Modi comes on the eve of Modi heading for the G7 Summit in Germany, and thereafter to the UAE, one of several Muslim countries that had taken India to task for the alleged blasphemous remarks on Prophet Muhammad by BJP spokespersons. Imagine, how the G7, and the UAE, would have reacted if the Supreme Court had ruled against Modi. Surely, sections of the national media would have roasted Modi and he would have flown to Germany with more questions following him, and waiting for him in Germany, and in the UAE.
And the world would once more have been compelled to reminisce afresh Gujarat 2002 and whether there was truth in the “large conspiracy” behind the riots. The BJP would have lost quite a bit of steam and accusing politicians of other parties of wrong doings wouldn’t be easy. The Congress, especially, would have reason to feel vindicated.
Modi, ever since Gujarat 2002, and ever since he became Prime Minister in 2014, has been trying his best to refurbish and acquire for himself the image of a secular “sabka saath, sabka vishwas vishwaguru” image. It got derailed when Nupur Sharma let loose with alleged blasphemy. Modi wants to forget 2002, and he recollects childhood “friend Abbas”, but Gujarat 2002 dogs him relentlessly, the latest clean-chit from the Supreme Court, regardless. (IPA Service)