Ahmedabad, Aug 31: Even as slain Gujarat minister Haren Pandya's wife today demanded that his killing be probed afresh, the state government said the CBI should move the Supreme Court against the verdict of the High Court which dropped murder charges against the accused.
“After eight years, I have lost patience and this judgement (August 29) has proved that the real killers of Haren (Pandya) are roaming free while some other persons have been put behind bars and have wrongly served the prison term,” Jagruti Pandya said making a fervent appeal to Chief Minister Narendra Modi for re-investigating the case.
“Chief Minister Narendra Modi should prove himself to be an ideal chief minister by ensuring that real killers are caught and punished,” she told reporters, two days after the High Court dropped murder charges against the 12 accused, paving the way for likely release of most of them as they have already served term in jail for offences they were convicted of during the pendency of the case.
Gujarat High Court had on Monday dropped murder charges against those accused of killing Pandya in 2003 but upheld the trial court's verdict convicting them of criminal conspiracy and terrorism under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA).
The state government, however, favoured that CBI move the Supreme Court in appeal against the High Court judgement to ensure “strictest” punishment to the accused.
“The High Court has released the accused on technical grounds (from murder charge), so the CBI should take this matter further to the Supreme Court,” Jay Narayan Vyas, minister and state government spokesman said, adding “And it (CBI) should ensure that whoever are the accused and found guilty are given the strictest of the punishment.”
On Jagruti Pandya's demand that the case be probed afresh, Vyas said,” Within hours of Pandya's murder, state government had asked for independent CBI inquiry, and succeeded in getting it.
“Therefore, as far as we are concerned, the state government has done whatever was required to be done right on day one.”
Asked if Gujarat Chief Minister was yet to reply to Jagruti Pandya's request for re-investigation (which she said she had made a year ago), Vyas said, “When a process is going on, and CBI is investigating... the CBI works under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister.”
“The remedy is that CBI must challenge this in the Supreme Court, and ensure that the guilty are brought to book and are awarded the strictest punishment,” he said. At her press conference, Jagruti had said she had written to Modi seeking his cooperation for re-investigation but did not receive a reply.
Appealing to Modi to ensure that real culprits were put behind bars, she said, “Now, after this verdict the chief minister should declare my quest for justice as his cause. “I along with my two sons, and all BJP workers of Gujarat are eagerly looking forward to the CM to own up this cause for justice,” Jagruti said, adding BJP should take up the matter as its own fight.
Pandya, former Minister of Sate for Home in BJP government, was shot dead on March 26, 2003 near Law Garden area of the city while taking a morning walk. PTI