The Hindu – BJP is a party of sycophants: Yashwant Sinha

Former finance and external affairs minister says Modi, Shah to blame for Assembly poll debacle

Shoumojit Banerjee

Pune – Maharashtra – India, 12 December 2018. Stating that ‘Modi magic’ was on the wane, former Union Minister and ex-BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said the electorate had expressed their ire and frustration.

Mr. Sinha, one of the bitter critics of the Narendra Modi regime, lauded Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s conduct and democratic style of functioning which enabled his party to come back in the Assembly polls.

Commenting that Mr. Gandhi knew how to move with everyone, he said: “The BJP says it does not have an alternative for Mr. Modi, but the country will chose its alternative soon… The BJP will now have to think ten times before denigrating Rahul Gandhi as ‘pappu’,” Mr. Sinha said while delivering a lecture at the Pune Patrakar Sangh.

He said soon after the results, he had received phone calls from several BJP leaders from Jharkhand, who were secretly happy at their own party’s defeat.

Saying that everybody in the BJP was frightened of Mr. Modi, he added that nobody within the party had raised a voice against him [Mr. Modi] and party president Amit Shah despite the party’s spectacular defeat in the key states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

“For the last four-and-a-half years, Narendra Modi has been deified by sycophants in the party who think he can do no wrong… Modi thinks he can play God and can bypass the council of ministers. But this defeat will put a check on his arrogance,” Mr. Sinha said, stating that it appeared all administrative activities and policy decisions emanated from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The veteran politician, who held the Finance and External Affairs portfolios under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (1998-2004), hit out at Mr. Modi’s ‘dictatorship’ and said the BJP’s losses had taken the wind out of its sails.

Hitting out at Mr. Modi’s highly authoritarian manner of functioning, Mr. Sinha said that due procedures had been bypassed in the Rafale fighter aircraft deal with the Defence Ministry left in the dark.

“The entire nation is being run only by two persons, Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah [BJP president]. The council of ministers is never taken into confidence while implementing any important policy decision,” he said.

Observing that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was reduced to being a ‘Twitter Minister’, Mr. Sinha said: “When I was External Affairs Minister under Mr. Vajpayee, he always used to consult me and take me along during his foreign visits.

But that portfolio today is sadly reduced to being a political sinecure as Mr. Modi does not bother to consult the External Affairs Minister.”

Similarly, he observed that the Finance Ministry was all but ignored in the momentous decision on demonetisation.

“Demonetisation has achieved nothing except wiping out the livelihood of crores of small traders and bringing about widespread unemployment,” he said.

Mr. Sinha further commented that nobody in the BJP would get a get a shot at leading the party as long as Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah were in control. “There does not seem to be any likelihood of someone else like Nitin Gadkari leading the party as long as Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah are driving the BJP,” he said.


The Hindu – Kartarpur game plan of ISI, says Amarinder Singh

‘The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI’

Special Correspondent

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 09 December 2018. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said the fact that Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa had broken news of the opening of the “’Kartarpur corridor” to Punjab Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu even before Imran Khan was sworn in as their Prime Minister, was indicative of “a bigger conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan Army.”

An official statement, citing an interview of Captain Amarinder Singh to a TV channel, said, “The opening of the Kartarpur corridor is clearly a game plan of the ISI. A bigger conspiracy seems to have been hatched by the Pakistan Army against India.

Since Partition

Captain Amarinder said the demand for the opening of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor had been pending since Partition as several holy Sikh shrines (Sri Nankana Sahib, Sri Panja Sahib, Dera Sahib and Kartarpur Sahib) had been left in Pakistan.

Even former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh had taken up the issue. He said he himself had raised this issue with his Pakistan Punjab counterpart Parvez Elahi, and with the then President, Pervez Musharraf, during his previous tenure as the chief minister.

“The Sidhu affair was being unnecessarily hyped, and those raising it had clearly failed to see the ISI’s game plan,” he added.

Captain Amarinder said Imran Khan was undoubtedly making efforts to bring peace and harmony to India, but at the same time, he should also prevail upon the top brass of Pakistani Army, “to ensure that killing of our soldiers at the borders is stopped immediately.”

The Hindu – Centre may bring back curbs in Andamans

The Restricted Area Permit regime was lifted this August from 29 islands, including North Sentinel, to promote tourism

Nistula Hebbar

New Delhi – India, 05 December 2018. The Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Nand Kumar Sai, has said the Centre may like to revisit its decision to lift the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) system from 29 islands of Andaman and Nicobar, after the death of USA citizen John Allen Chau.

Mr. Sai, who is leading a delegation of the Commission to the islands, told The Hindu that the lifting of the regime proved problematic and the decision had “many pros and cons that needed to be re-looked”.

“I feel that the government should rethink its decision to open these 29 islands to foreigners as the presence of the Sentinelese and their desire to avoid [contacts with] outsiders demonstrate that these are sensitive zones,” he said.

However, the death of John Allen Chau could not be linked to the withdrawal of the regime. “The Commission will deliberate upon the issue once we return to Delhi and finalise our report on the incident.”

To develop tourism, the RAP regime, in place since 1963, was lifted around August this year from 29 islands, including the North Sentinel (where Chau was reportedly killed).

Though the regime was withdrawn, a tourist is required to take permission from the Forest Department and the local administration as it is protected under two other Acts.

Mr. Sai said there might have been some carelessness in tracking the movements of Chau. “We have spoken to senior members of the administration, including Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Admiral (retired) D.K. Joshi,” he said.

“It is good that the administration is persisting in its efforts to recover Chau’s body; it should be done without further disturbing the Sentinelese,” he said.

“We also met representatives of NGOs working here, including those of the VHP and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (affiliated to the RSS)…,” he said.

“Our visits to the Nicobar islands have revealed that there has been much conversion activity by Christian missionaries, and our view is that further contact with tribal groups that have various degrees of exposure to other societies should be on their own terms, and nothing should be forced upon them,” he said.

The delegation will be in Chennai on Thursday and then return to Delhi.

The Hindu – Constitution does not allow an ordinance on Ram temple: Ram Vilas Paswan

Union Minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president says his stand always has been that the Supreme Court’s decision on the issue will be final and should be acceptable to all.

Sobhana K Nair

New Delhi – India, 05 December 2018. The government and the Prime Minister are bound by the Constitution, which does not permit an ordinance to build a Ram temple in Ayodhya, Union Minister and NDA ally Ram Vilas Paswan said in an interview in New Delhi on 04 December.

“Let me categorically tell you today that nothing will happen on this [issue]. The government does not belong to either Hindus or Muslims. The Prime Minister does not belong to the NDA or the UPA alone.

When he is elected as Prime Minister, he swears that Parliament is his temple and that the Constitution is his religion. The Constitution does not allow an ordinance,” he told The Hindu in an exclusive interview.

His Lok Janshakti Party, Mr Paswan said, had always held that every one should wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court, which is looking at the Ram temple issue from all perspectives. Mr Paswan completes 50 years in Indian politics, having served in the Cabinets of six Prime Ministers and eight terms in the Lok Sabha.

Full text of the interview:

You have worked with six PMs. If we were to keep out Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will you list as your favourite Prime Minister?

I would pick V P Singh. He was a man of ideology. He had a short term of just 11 months in the Prime Minister’s Office, but in that short time, he did significant things for all classes from Scheduled Castes and OBCs to minorities.

My second favourite would be H D Deve Gowda. I never had a close relation with him before I joined his Cabinet. In fact, I had no role in his elevation as Prime Minister and yet once I started working in his Cabinet, the trust that he bestowed on me was unparalleled. I still share a warm relation with him.

You are called the weather vane of politics. Do you see change in the winds, especially in view of the Assembly polls in three BJP-ruled States, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where there is a visible demand for change?

I do not go into miniscule details. Instead of ifs, buts, plus, minus and so on, I believe in overall calculations. The tally may reduce in some States but it will be made up by an increase in other States. On the balance, I believe the NDA government will come back to power in 2019.

And the primary reason for it is that the country has no alternative. Despite everything, where can the people possibly go? There is no other prime ministerial face visible. And the voters want the country to be led by a strong personality.

History will be my witness in this. Indira Gandhi imposed Emergency and yet the country voted her back because they saw that the Janata Party government failed to give them a stable government.

In one of your speeches in Parliament, you said you were an atheist and Muslims were important constituents of the Lok Jan Shakti Party. Keeping this in mind, doesn’t this frenzy that is being whipped up once more around Ram Mandir make you uncomfortable?

Let me tell you categorically today that nothing will happen on this matter. The government does not belong to either Hindus or Muslims alone. The Prime Minister does not belong to the NDA or the UPA alone. The first thing every Prime Minister has to do is to take an oath swearing that the Parliament will be his temple and the Constitution his religion.

The Constitution does not allow an ordinance. My stand always has been that the Supreme Court’s decision will be final and should be acceptable to all. And I believe that it is not just the Vishwa Hindu Parishad which is responsible for this frenzy. All of us share some of the responsibility.

When L K Advani started his Rath Yatra with the Narasimha Rao government in the Centre, the government decided that it should take hold of the disputed land. And an ordinance was brought out to bring the disputed land under the Union government’s jurisdiction.

And you will be surprised to know that both the Babri Masjid committee and the RSS protested. The protests were so intense that the government had to withdraw the ordinance. The results are for every one to see. Today, I do not feel uncomfortable, because the government has not spoken out of line on this issue.

The BJP may take a certain line since they are in competition with the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena and so on. But the issue is not discussed in Cabinet meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has not spoken in support of it.

There is speculation that as part of the seat-sharing arrangement in Bihar, the BJP will give the LJP one Rajya Sabha seat and that you may opt out of the Lok Sabha election to take this seat. Are you considering retirement from active politics?

There is no question of retiring from active politics. I have been struggling since 1969. Now at this stage of my life, I want to work more for my party to expand it beyond Bihar.

When you are in an alliance, you have to abide by the coalition dharma. I can never speak freely. In fact, after joining the NDA, the LJP has fought far fewer elections in various States.

I cannot remain with the NDA and yet fight against it in other States. But I think the LJP should have fought many of these elections.

So will the LJP fight as a BJP ally or strike out on its own in 2019? No, we will remain with the BJP for the 2019 polls. There is no space for doubt here.

The Hindu – Two Punjabs, one South Asia

India-Pakistan rapprochement and the South Asian future require sub-national engagement, starting with Punjab

Kanak Mani Dixit

Op/Ed, 04 December 2018. For a flickering moment in the last week of November, it seemed as if Congress provocateur and Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu might set the geopolitical agenda, when he unabashedly spoke of the need for India and Pakistan to mend fences.

He was in Lahore on the occasion of the start of work on the Kartarpur Corridor, meant to ease the travel of Sikh pilgrims to the resting place of Guru Nanak.

Unfazed by ridicule on Indian television, the cricketer-turned-politician spoke of peace, trade and people-to-people contact, all of them lost causes of the ‘track two’ dialogues of past decades.

His confidence seemed to emanate from being a Sikh and Punjabi reaching out to Pakistani Punjab, and in his wordy sermons one actually detected the formula for India-Pakistan cohabitation, which would also catalyse cooperation in the larger South Asian region.

Ultra-nationalist fog

Peace in the Subcontinent presupposes amity between India and Pakistan, and more than 40 years of efforts at regionalism has been held hostage by hostility of the two, with the other countries watching askance.

The abuse hurled by the state establishments of each side is a populist political tool that distracts the public from pressing matters of growth, equity, democracy and accountability. That the cost of maintaining massive militaries in each country drags down efforts at social justice is lost in the fog of ultra-nationalism.

India, as the more stable democracy, should inculcate empathy for the neighbour, but the New Delhi commentariat tends not to recognise the difference between the Pakistani state and its people, the latter struggling against extremism, military supremacy and state-centralism all at one go.

Indian media by and large is not bothered by the travails of Pakistanis, as right-wing trolls rule the airwaves and social media. Similar to how dissent is sought to be silenced with the ‘Urban Naxal’ tag, since long those seeking India-Pakistan amity and South Asian regionalism are rejected as romantic peaceniks lighting meaningless candles at Wagah-Atari.

The trolling and abuse on all matters related to Pakistan can be expected to peak as India’s general election of 2019 draws near, which will only help Islamabad’s military-intelligence complex tighten its grip on the society. It is high time to try once again for a plan for South Asian regionalism.

Opportunity costs

The potential of South Asia for sustained high growth has been blocked by the tightened national borders, with India playing its part by building barbed wire fences on the Pakistan and Bangladesh frontiers.

In all of seven decades, the economic history of the Subcontinent has been forgotten, with the ultra-nationalist narrative having us believe that this separate living is how it has always been.

Until Cyril Radcliffe drew the map of Partition, the economic synergy across the different parts of the Subcontinent was an unquestioned historical reality.

There is no one to remember or remind that this reality of sealed borders was set only in 1947 for most parts of the Subcontinent, or that the door actually slammed shut only after the India-Pakistan war of 1965.

As the historical ‘connectivity’ of the Subcontinent crumbled, it created massive dysfunction as economies of scale and production chains were disrupted.

The opportunity costs have been incalculable in terms of infrastructure, production and commerce, and the loss in livelihoods would be heart-rending if only we cared to calculate.

The present-day failure of South Asian academia is its unwillingness to theorise on the promise of economic growth and social justice that regionalism holds, through soft/open borders.

Of the Indian intelligentsia, the failure is also in seeing economic geography through the New Delhi lens rather than those of the ‘peripheral’ regions, from Rajasthan to the Northeast.

‘South Asia’ must be understood as a project for social justice, to be achieved through economic rationalisation, sub-regional interactions and reduced military budgets, and open borders such as exists between Nepal and India.


The goal of the future should be to learn to compartmentalise one’s perceptions of the ‘other’, that Pakistan is made up of its state and its people just as India too is made up of its state and its people. The mutual demonisation has to do with conflating the two, state apparatus and citizenry, as one.

While the Pakistani state is rightfully critiqued for the way the military/intelligence calls the shots, from the Kargil misadventure to cross-border militancy, to even denying Punjab province the right to import energy from India, the self-perception of India as ‘good’ and Pakistan as ‘bad’ should have been abandoned long ago.

In Pakistan, the space of the public intellectual is circumscribed by the jihadists, the army and the military intelligence. In India, a much freer country no doubt, there is the rise of pernicious ultra-populism that keeps public figures from speaking up.

In the age of Narendra Modi, proposing South Asian solidarity is frowned upon to such an extent that academics and opinion makers, not to mention bureaucracy and even international funding agencies, all think it is better to keep aloof of the concept.

Since 2016, the Prime Minister has been consistent in his refusal to attend the 19th SAARC Summit slated for Islamabad, which has rendered the regional organisation comatose. His vision of South Asian regionalism is where the neighbours dance to India’s tune.

The fear that South Asia as a concept heralds some kind of supra-sovereignty is misplaced, for there is no plan afoot for supplanting of the nation-state and associated group privileges. No, the capitals are not being asked to relinquish their powers to a Subcontinental centre.

Instead, a realistic formula for South Asian regionalism lies in allowing the federal units of the two largest countries, the provinces of Pakistan and the states of India, autonomy, which today exists only on paper. This is where the Punjab-Punjab formula comes in.

Even as television sought to lampoon Mr Sidhu, we saw what was required to push for peace in South Asia, chutzpah. The Yiddish word implies the gall or audacity of a showman, and the gift of repartee to challenge the harshest of televangelist anchors.

It does seem that ultranationalist populism can only be cut by counter-populist hyperbole.

Responding to the Pakistan Foreign Minister’s invitation to the Kartarpur Corridor ground-breaking, the Punjab Minister replied in a letter: “As our nations take this first step, the Kartarpur Spirit can make pilgrims of us all, venturing out on a journey that breaks the barriers of history and opens the borders of hearts and the mind, a journey that our people can walk together towards a future of shared peace and prosperity for India and Pakistan.”

If you read the words and not the perception some have of the gentleman, the future of Punjab-Punjab, India-Pakistan and South Asia as a whole can be found in the paragraph.


Nothing has been left untried in the effort to ease India-Pakistan tensions, Atal Bihari Vajpayee visiting Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore; Mr Modi flying in for Nawaz Sharif’s birthday; secret emissaries rushing hither and yon; and ‘track two’ and ‘track three’ events of every kind.

Nothing has worked, and we are today in suspended animation between Mr Modi’s India-centric vision of the region and the Pakistani military’s control of the geopolitical discourse in Islamabad. At such a time comes the possibility held out by the Kartarpur Corridor.

Punjab province is by far the most powerful sub-national unit of Pakistan. The Indian Punjab may not be as powerful within India in relative terms, but it is no pushover either.

The two Punjabs have one history, as the stepping stone for invaders, battlegrounds that go back millennia, the shared tragedy of Partition, and the shared culture and language of Punjabiyat.

Given that South Asian regionalism can only come from a turn towards genuine federalism in India and Pakistan, Punjab Province and Punjab State are the places to start anew. It may just be Punjabiyat is the concept which will help bring India and Pakistan closer to peace, and make South Asia a safer and more prosperous place.

Kanak Mani Dixit, a writer and journalist based in Kathmandu, is the founding editor of the magazine, ‘Himal Southasian’

The Hindu – Pakistan must turn secular, says Army Chief Bipin Rawat

General Rawat says it’s must for ties

Shoumojit Banerjee

Pune – Maharashtra – India, 30 November 2018. Pakistan will have to develop as a secular state in order to stay together with India, said the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, on Friday.

“Pakistan will have to introspect on its internal condition. It has transformed itself into an Islamic state. If they have to stay together with India, then they will have to develop as a secular state. How can we stay together when they say they are an Islamic state and there is no role for anybody else?

If they are willing to become secular, then there seems to be an opportunity,” General Rawat said on the sidelines of the passing-out parade of the 135th batch at the National Defence Academy. General Rawat said it remained to be seen whether Pakistan made moves in that direction or not.

Rare comment

The Army chief’s rare comment on the religious character of Pakistan comes against the backdrop of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s overtures to resume dialogue with India.

The Army chief was referring to Mr Khan’s statements at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday wherein the Pakistani Prime Minister expressed readiness to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Mr Khan said that it was not in the interest of his country to allow its territories to be utilised for terror activities.

“There has to be a positive step from their [Pakistan’s] side. We will then see whether that step has any impact on the ground level. Till then, our country has a clear policy that terror and talk do not go together,” said the Army chief.

How secular is Modi’s India ?
Man in Blue

The Hindu – UK amends new weapons bill to allow status quo on possession of kirpans

London – UK, 30 November 2018. The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The United Kingdom government has confirmed an amendment to a new weapons bill going through Parliament to ensure that it would not impact the right of the British Sikh community to possess and supply kirpans or religious swords.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 completed its various readings in the House of Commons this week and has now moved to the House of Lords for approval.

It involves a new offence of possessing certain offensive weapons in public and places new restrictions on the online sales of bladed articles and corrosive products in attempt to crackdown on rising knife and acid-related attacks in the country.

“We have engaged closely with the Sikh community on the issue of kirpans. As a result, we have amended the Bill to ensure that the possession and supply of large kirpans for religious reasons can continue,” a UK Home Office spokesperson said on Thursday.

Delegation to Home Office

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs led a delegation to the UK Home Office in recent weeks to ensure that the kirpan remains exempt when the new bill becomes law.

“I am pleased to see the government amendment and look forward to seeing an accompanying set of documentation, which reflects the importance of not criminalising the Sikh community for the sale or possession of large kirpans,” said Labour MP Preet Kaur Gill, Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs.

Ms. Gill, the first female Sikh MP in the House of Commons, was accompanied by APPG vice-chairs Pat McFadden and Dominic Grieve at a meeting with UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Home Office minister Victoria Atkins to discuss changes to the Offensive Weapons Bill, which would maintain status quo in continuing to legally safeguard the sale, possession and use of large kirpans.

Her fellow Sikh MP, Tan Dhesi, also made an intervention during the Offensive Weapons Bill debate in the Commons to seek “assurances about the kirpan, given the Sikh community’s serious concerns”.

Large kirpans, with blades over 50-cm, are used by the community during religious ceremonies in gurdwaras as well as for ceremonies involving the traditional Sikh Gatka martial art. They would have fallen foul of the new bill on the possession of large blades without the amendment, which has now been agreed.

The Offensive Weapons Bill 2018 is aimed at strengthening existing legislative measures on offensive weapons, focusing on corrosive substances, knives and certain types of firearm.

The Bill will give new laws to ban the sale of corrosive substances to anyone under the age of 18, to target people carrying acid, to make it more difficult for anyone under the age of 18 to buy knives online and to ban certain types of firearms.

The Hindu – Kartarpur corridor foundation laying event: India protests Imran Khan’s reference to Kashmir during ‘a pious occasion’

“It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India,” says the Ministry of External Affairs.

New Delhi – India, 28 November 2018. India on November 28 said Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s reference to Jammu and Kashmir during the pious moment of groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor was “deeply regrettable”. It asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an “integral and inalienable” part of India.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke at the foundation stone laying ceremony for the historic Kartarpur corridor, at Kartarpur in Pakistan on 28 November 2018.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral and inalienable part of India.”

Pakistan must fulfil its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kind of support to cross-border terrorism from territories under its control, the MEA said.

Mr. Khan laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking two revered gurdwaras on both sides of the border.

“I am saying today, that our political leaders, our army, and all other institutions are all on one page. We wish to move forward, we want a civilised relationship. We have just one problem, Kashmir. If man can walk on the moon, what problems are there that we cannot resolve,” Mr. Khan said at the event.

The much-awaited corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur, the final resting place of Sikh faith’s founder Guru Nanak Dev, with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of pilgrims.

The Hindu – One arrested in Amritsar grenade attack case

Chandigarh, 21 November 2018. An arrest has been made in connection with the grenade attack in Amritsar that left three people dead and over 20 injured on November 18.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh told the media in Chandigarh on November 21, “One Bikramjit Singh has been arrested and search for another accused, Avtar Singh, is on.”

The Chief Minister showed pictures of the two accused.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was quite active in fomenting trouble in Punjab and the grenade attack was a pure act of terrorism, he said.

The attack by two-motorcycle borne men took place inside the Nirankari Bhawan’s prayer hall at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi.

The Hindu – 2002 Gujarat riots case: Supreme Court to hear Zakia Jafri’s plea against Modi’s clean chit

Staff Reporter

New Delhi – India, 19 November 2018. The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear on November 26 the plea of Zakia Jafri challenging the clean chit given by a Special Investigating Team to Narendra Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, pertaining to the “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

A Bench, headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, cited paucity of time to post the case later.

Ms. Jafri, wife of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, has challenged the October 5, 2017 verdict of the Gujarat High Court dismissing her plea challenging the SIT’s closure report.

The high court had upheld a magisterial court’s verdict, accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to the then Chief Minister and others, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.

Jafri, whose ex parliamentarian husband was among the 69 people massacred in Gulbarg society during the 2002 riots, has also sought for an order to the SIT to carry out further investigation in the case.

During the hearing, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the SIT, said that both the magistrate court and high court has passed their orders on the issue. Mr Rohatgi objected to the inclusion of second petitioner, Ms Teesta Setalvad in the case as she was neither present as a party in the trial or high court.

Jafri’s counsel said that notice needs to be issued in the plea as it pertains to the aspect of alleged “larger conspiracy” during the period from February 27, 2002 and May 2002.

“The High Court failed to consider the inaction on part of the SIT to investigate the prelude and build-up (activities like communal mobilization and arms importation into Gujarat) to the violence unleashed post-Godhra,” the plea said.

It contended that “the High Court erred by failing to appreciate that the larger conspiracy is evident by taking an overarching view of the various incidents and the present case should not have been adjudicated by narrowly limiting the allegation of the Petitioners to isolated incidents, which are the lacunae which plagues the order of the Magistrate”.