March 1, 2002: Communal frenzy
envelops Vadodara and 14 people are killed in Best Bakery. Zaheera Sheikh
emerges the star witness.
March 2, 2002: Zaheera files an
FIR and names the accused. Describes how the mob came towards the house
shouting ‘kill the Muslims, burn the bakery’.
May 17, 2003: In a dramatic turnaround,
Zaheera turns hostile. She claims she did not see anything because “a
mob of 1,500 persons had come and they were hiding in fear”.
June 27, 2003: The fast-track Vadodara
court acquits all the 21 accused.
July 7, 2003: The Citizens for
Justice and Peace headed by Teesta Setalvad holds a press conference for
Zaheera in Mumbai.
July 11, 2003: Zaheera testifies
before a full bench of the National Human Rights Commission saying she
was forced to retract her statements.
August 1, 2003: The NHRC files
a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court. Asks for a retrial in a
court outside Gujarat.
September 8, 2003: In a sworn affidavit
to the SC, Zaheera says she had turned hostile because when she reached
the court complex, she met Chandrakant Batthoo, Madhu Srivastava’s
brother, who threatened her. He told her that if she stuck to her earlier
statement, the remaining four members of her family would be killed.
April 12, 2004: The Supreme Court
orders a retrial of the Best Bakery case in Maharashtra.
November 3, 2004: In yet another
stunning volte-face, Zaheera turns hostile again and tells the Vadodara
collector that she was being pressured and threatened by Teesta Setalvad.
December 6: The SC asks Zaheera
whether her disclosure amounted to her having filed a false affidavit
to the apex court. Wants to know by January 2 whether it amounts to contempt