Ahmedabad: In an order viewed as politically crucial for the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Ahmedabad magistrate's court on Thursday upheld the clean chit to him by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Gulbarg Society massacre case. Metropolitan Magistrate BJ Ganatra found no merit in the protest petition filed by Zakia Jafri, the wife of late Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed at Gulbarg Society during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Modi welcomed the magistrate court order by tweeting: "truth alone triumphs". While remembering Mahatma Gandhi, Modi also tweeted, "Truth by nature is self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear"- Mahatma Gandhi. Meanwhile, his party colleagues called the court order a vindication of their stand and accused the Congress of pursuing vendetta politics.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that the verdict gave a moral victory to the BJP as well as Modi who are accused of being communal by rivals. Jaitley said that the court verdict has proved that "truth holds together and falsehood would fall apart".
While the BJP hailed the verdict, the Congress hinted on a review petition at a higher court. "This is a vindication is totally misleading and wrong. Yes, till such time a superior court deals with the complainant's grievance, Mr Modi has got a temporary relief,"said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The court had appointed a SIT to investigate and also an amicus curie after former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri's wife Zakia had approached the Supreme Court in 2008 on the issue.
Both the SIT headed by former CBI director RK Raghvan and the amicus curie prepared their respective reports based on which the SC then directed the designate magistrate to decide on the merits of the case. While the SIT gave a clean chit to Modi, amicus curie Raju Ramachandran differed on certain issues.
Zakia had then petitioned challenging the clean chit to Modi which was rejected by the court on Thursday.
The SIT welcomed the verdict and said the verdict proved it had conducted a fair investigation. "SIT's impartiality has been confirmed," said SIT lawyer RS Jamuvar.
However, Zakia's counsel maintained that they will take the fight to a superior court. "Somebody asked me a question whether Mr Modi will be free now. Well, he can feel free for next 20 days, not more. I can assure you that," said Mihir Desai, Zakia' lawyer.
The court in its 350-page order referred to various points that pointed to state government's negligence during the time. It ruled out the conspiracy theory against the Gujarat CM saying that the state reacted swiftly at the time of the incident noting that Army was airlifted to the state on February 28 afternoon.
The court also added that it had no evidence to prove that Modi was in touch with senior officials during riots as claimed by the petitioner. However, it added that the state government had every right to learn about the law and order situation at the time.