Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary’s interview with PM Modi mentioned in SC judgement

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The Supreme Court  of India on Friday upheld clean chit by SIT to the then Gujarat Chief Minister and current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 63 others in the state’s 2002 communal riots. It its judgement, the SC said that there is “tittle of material” to show that the violence post the Godhra train burning was “pre-planned” as part of a criminal conspiracy allegedly planned at the “highest level” in Gujarat.

The SC judgement dedicates 2 pages to Zee News editor-in-chief Sudhir Chaudhary’s interview with PM Modi who was the CM of Gujarat at the time. 

Observing the result of further investigation, it mentions that a requisition was sent to Zee TV during the probe, to make available a copy of the CD of an interview of PM Modi at the time. This interview was conducted by Chaudhary, who was a correspondent at the network at the time, on March 1, 2002. 

It mentions that Chaudhary requested for a short 10-minute interview after a press conference by then CM Modi. 

“After going through the Editor’s Guild Fact Finding Mission report dated 03.05.2002, Shree Chaudhary had stated that the same were only a few excerpts from the said interview and the original CD of the said interview was not before him,” the judgement said.

“As per his recollection, he had questioned Shri Narendra Modi about the Chamanpura massacre (Gulberg Society case), in which former Congress MP Late Ahesan Jafri had been killed with many others to which the Chief Minister had replied that the mob had reacted on account on private firing done by Late Ahesan Jafri, Ex-MP. After refreshing his memory from the Editor’s Guild report, Shri Sudhir Chaudhary has stated that the Chief Minister was of the view that he neither wanted action nor reaction,” it adds.

The report mentions that Chaudhary further stated that he questioned the CM about the widespread violence that followed the Godhra incident. The CM had replied as follows:

“Godhra main jo parson hua, jahan par chalees (40) mahilaon aur bacchon ko zinda jala diya is main desh main aur videsh main sadma pahunchna swabhavik tha. Godhra ke is ilake ki criminal tendencies rahi hain. In logo ne pahele mahila teachers ka khoon kiya aur ab yeh jaghanya apraadh kiya hai jiski pratikria ho rahi hai.”

READ | Portions of 2002 Gujarat riots, Emergency scrapped from Class 12 textbooks by NCERT, know why

It mentions that Chaudhary was unable to recollect the exact sequence of events after a span of 9 years and moreover, the CD was not before him. 

“Shri Narendra Modi had been questioned about the aforesaid interview given to Zee TV on 01.03.2002. He has stated that those who have read the history of Gujarat would definitely be aware that communal violence in Gujarat has a long history and the State had witnessed serious incidents of such communal violence. As regards the Zee TV interview of 01.03.2002 is concerned, Shri Modi has stated that after a period of eight years, he did not recollect the exact words, but he had always appealed only and only for peace. He (Shri Modi) had further stated that he had tried to appeal to the people to shun violence in straight and simple language. He had also stated that if his words cited in this question are considered in the correct perspective, then it would be evident that there is a very earnest appeal for people refraining from any kind of violence. He had denied all the allegations against him in this regard,” it added.

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