Togadia fails to appear before SIT


Gandhinagar: Summoned by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) international general secretary Pravin Togadia struck a defiant note when he sent in his proxy with a set of queries. The SIT turned down the plea and refused to accept the proxy appearance.

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Named in the petition submitted to the Supreme Court by Zakia Jaffri, widow of former congress MP Ehsan Jaffri who died in the communal killings at the Gulberg society in Ahmedabad, Togadia was summoned by the SIT to appear before it through a letter faxed to his office on April 19.

On Saturday, instead of appearing in person Togadia sent his lawyers to the SIT office to enquire under what rule he had been summoned and what was the focus of the questioning he would have to submit to.

Togadia’s advocate, Deepak Shukla, said Monday that he had sent two of his lawyer colleagues to the SIT office with Togadia’s letter raising the issues. But the SIT official did not accept the letter.

Shukla charged that the SIT official had also insulted the two lawyers who had gone to the office.

The petition filed by Zakia Jaffri names the chief minister, Narendra Modi, and 62 others as accused. The SIT refused to entertain Togadia’s lawyers and demanded that the VHP leader appear in person. The SIT also refused to accept from the lawyers some documents sent by Togadia.

Shukla said that the SIT officer pointed out to the lawyers that even the chief minister had responded positively to the SIT summons and answered its questions for nearly nine hours in two sessions last month, and wondered why was Togadia reluctant to appear before it.

Meanwhile, SIT chairman, R.K. Raghavan, arrived here Monday. He is due to submit the final report of the investigation before the apex court April 30.