“Mind boggling assertion that VHP members were aware of Godhra train burning”: Mukul Rohatgi counters arguments in Gujarat Riots Cases

  • Gautam Mishra
  • 04:13 PM, 25 Nov 2021

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court in Gujarat riots 2002 wrapped up today’s argument on the premise that to say the Sabarmati express train massacre of February 2002 was carried out by the state is a mind-boggling proposition. 
“The enormity of the statement that these “Radical Hindus” from VHP had kept arms before the burning of the Sabarmati Express is to say that it was these people who had burnt the train! They are saying the state sponsored burning of Train! My mind is boggled, this is like saying that if I am a Radical hindu and I am a part of VHP.... I knew about the Sabarmati express massacre... that these“Right Wing fellows” knew about the Godhra Train burning on 27th February 2002. This is an absurd allegation!” - Rohatgi

Reiterating his earlier stand on the SIT’s thoroughness with the investigation and countering Sibal’s argument of the SIT’s ignorance on many aspects, he said that it had in fact it had been “more thorough than expected”.

"Everybody from the Chief Minister, members of the cabinet, top police officers, everybody was examined,” he said.

A bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, and Justice CT Ravikumar was hearing a plea moved by deceased Congress leader Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given to the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots matter.

The arguments got heated today when Rohatgi started referring to item 1 in the complaint which is the allegation against then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for Zakia Jafri submitted, "I'm not pressing on it, I would have read it otherwise." 

Sibal said, "if you'll continue reading it, I'll have to deal with it, please do away with this controversy," whereas, in response to this Rohatgi said, "you have started the controversy."'

Rohatgi over the allegation of not calling the Army within the appropriate time said, "Army personnel were airlifted from the forward positions and the allegations are made that why the army was not called."

Clarifying the purpose for which the SIT has been directed to investigate the complaint Rohatgi said, "We cannot lose sight of the order of the Supreme Court that it said to look into the complaint in case of additional material."

In addition to this, arguing over the allegation of state-sponsored violence, Rohatgi contended, "Here they say it was State-sponsored, See the impact of this line, that is why this case has gone haywire, are they saying that the train was burnt by the state? do they realize the input of these allegations?"

In connection to investigating into the case Rohatgi said, "after 8 years there is no evidence to go and collect, its not like that some murder has happened yesterday and you can collect the stained shirt. You can only cross check statements that has already been done."

In regards to the calls being received by the officers from the politicians Rohatgi submitted that in this kind of situation people will call.

"I remember what had happened in Delhi, several judges from the High Court from a community had to stay in the premises, people will make calls in such situations," Rohatgi added.

Rohatgi further argued that "this entire complaint is sought to be buttressed by the statements of three people Shree Kumar, Rahul Sharma and Sanjeev Bhatt These three people are the stars. Shree Kumar is the man who maintains unauthorised register. Then comes this Rahul Sharma who was first seen as an accused then a star witness, he kept these call recordings for so many year. Mr Sanjeev Bhatt is in jail for murder, convicted for murder. He was convicted for planting narcotics in a lawyer's chamber."

Earlier, Rohatgi had submitted that the SIT did its work thoroughly, examined all the people in the Gulbarga case, and submitted its report. There is no material to conclude that there was any Conspiracy."

Cause Title: Zakia Ahsan Jafri and Anr. Vs. The State of Gujarat and Anr.