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Updated: October 23, 2011 11:30 IST

Modi government arrests Sanjiv Bhatt

Manas Dasgupta
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Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was on Friday detained in connection with an FIR filed against him by a police constable. File photo
Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was on Friday detained in connection with an FIR filed against him by a police constable. File photo

In a surprise development, the Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, who created a flutter with his affidavits against Chief Minister Narendra Modi, was arrested on Friday on a complaint lodged some three months ago.

The Deputy Inspector-General rank officer was recently suspended for alleged dereliction of duty and insubordination after he refused to report to his present posting as the principal of the Police Training College, Junagadh. He stayed put in Ahmedabad “to appear in various court cases and [before] the G.T. Nanavati-Akshay Mehta judicial commission.”

He was arrested on an FIR filed on June 24 by constable K.D. Panth, once his driver, who alleged that Mr. Bhatt had “threatened and forced” him to sign a “false affidavit” to support the officer's claim that he was present at the meeting in the Chief Minister's residence on February 27, 2002. At the meeting, it was claimed that Mr. Modi issued a “directive” to police officers to “allow the Hindus to vent their anger” on the minorities.

Mr. Panth, currently attached to the Meghaninagar police station — which has jurisdiction over the area covering the Gulberg Society where a massacre had taken place during the riots — had lodged the complaint with the Ghatlodiya police station in Ahmedabad. On the complaint, the police registered the FIR against Mr. Bhatt for “threatening a public servant, fabricating false evidence and wrongful confinement” and initiated investigation.

One of witnesses

Mr. Bhatt, in his affidavit before the Supreme Court in April, mentioned Mr. Panth as one of some half-a-dozen witnesses who would testify his presence in the February 27 meeting at Mr. Modi's residence. Mr. Bhatt had claimed that while he travelled in the then Director-General of Police, K. Chakravarthi's official car to the residence of the Chief Minister, Mr. Panth was following them driving his (Mr. Bhatt's) official car and was aware that they had gone to attend the meeting convened by Mr. Modi.

Mr. Panth claimed that he had protested against the forced signing of the affidavit and told Mr. Bhatt that he had already informed the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team that he was on leave in February 2002, when communal riots broke out and there was no question of his having any knowledge of the IPS officer's movements.

Bhatt's claim

Mr. Bhatt's arrest comes within 48 hours of his having filed another affidavit, this time in the Gujarat High Court, alleging the indirect involvement of the Chief Minister and his former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, in the murder of another former Minister Haren Pandya. Mr. Bhatt had claimed that Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah had repeatedly asked him to destroy some “very important documentary evidence” regarding Mr. Pandya's murder, but he refused to oblige them, following which he was transferred from the post of Superintendent of the Sabarmati Central Jail and kept without any posting for over two and half months in November 2003.

Soon after his arrest, Mr. Bhatt was taken to an undisclosed destination for interrogation.

Arrest condemned

His arrest was condemned by human rights activists who said it was “yet another instance of fascism thriving in the State.”

While the former Chief Minister and Congress leader, Shankarsinh Waghela, said it was an example of the Modi government's “vindictive attitude,” Mukul Sinha, advocate for the Jan Sangharsh Manch which represents the riot victims, said it was an attempt to silence those who were fighting for human rights.

Father Cedric Prakash, convener of Prashant, the voluntary organisation supporting the cause of the 2002 riots victims, said Mr. Bhatt was arrested only because he was “extremely forthright” in his stand for truth and justice. “Now he has to pay the price for it.” He demanded Mr. Bhatt's immediate and unconditional release.

However, Gujarat BJP spokesman Vijay Rupani defended the arrest said it was “part of the legal process” and law should take its own course.

A police constable files a FIR against his then Superior on 24th June,2011 for an alleged act of the superior connected with a meeting called for by the CM on 27th February,2002!The Gujarat Police takes no action against the accused, Bhatt, for months!However, within a matter of 48 hours after Bhatt files an "affidavit in HC connected >with Hiren Pandya's murder, he was arrested!Do these suggest that "Indian penal laws" are in force in Gujarat or Modi's writ only runs amuck?

from:  Netrikkannyayman
Posted on: Oct 3, 2011 at 20:31 IST

Its the duty of the media, civil society and the whole nation to rise the voice for the valient IPS officer who dared to fight the state sponsored terrorism.Ofcourse it is the duty of the central government to make sure that justice is done in the case of Mr. Bhatt IPS.

from:  Dr.Nistar
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 18:38 IST

If the Modi government is not guilty of the charges let them face it daringly not like "cowards" using the power vested in them to run a state in this way. Shame on them and this goes to prove that there is no doubt that the accusations against them in the riots case is true. Mr Bhatt hats off to you to take on this single handedly.....hope the rest of the country wakes up to this and rebels against corruption. This man as a candidate for Prime Minister of India. BJP get your act right, look into your own backyard before pointing fingers at other parties.

from:  Laxmi Srikanth
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 17:53 IST

The delay in taking action on a complaint filed three months ago in itself is indicative of something being fishy in the whole matter. Mr. Bhatt has been arrested now perhaps because the renewed efforts to bring him round to the state's fold, in the intervening period, too might have failed.

from:  Murtuza
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 16:20 IST

Sanjiv Bhatt charged for "threatening a public servant, fabricating false evidence and wrongful confinement". Shoudn't Modi be charged for these. Its ironical and sad at so many levels

from:  Amit S
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 14:21 IST

It's a disgrace on a country claiming to be the largest democracy with strong judicial system and human rights activism.Modi had done a lot for Gujarat's development.But he's not a right candidate for the prime ministerialship of modern democratic India.His dictatorial style of dealing with his detractors should be stopped at all costs for the better future of India.

from:  Boban Abraham
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 14:13 IST

If I had any doubt of the culpability of the government in the riots, those have been removed by this action. I hope and pray that the country is able to protect Mr. Bhatt from harm at the hands of the state.

from:  R Kandadai
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 12:33 IST

This is nothing but to silence him first and inform others who dare to open their mouth against the ruling party, next.

from:  AH
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 12:21 IST

Let us pray for justice for the oppressed in the riots and also now. Let us be proud as a nation for people who had courage to stand against injustice even if it cost thier lives. They are the true martyrs.

from:  Jayaprakash
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 12:15 IST

Absolutely Tyrannical! Is this Democracy? I do not think so. I think this officer needs help from Media and civil society. This is quite a filmy scenario where a Lead actor does something against very powerful Politician and he has to pay as the consequences. This is a shame for our country where such a politician is projected as Prime ministerial candidate. "Lord save the this poor country".

from:  Ashutosh Vichore
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 08:49 IST

how can i help ? i am really concerned that mr bhatt will be subjected to physical violence and intimidation . how do i as a concerned citizen do anything to help protect him from state violence ? or violence at the hand of some "interested" officials . do i trust the gujarat government? No. Do i trust the police ? no .

from:  Sujatha
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 00:23 IST

It is Just a pressure tactics of Modi Government. If the arrest is part of legal process, then why others haven't arrested? There are number of complaints/FIR lodged against Modi and his cabinet ministers, BJP members, RSS Leaders as well.

from:  Sagar
Posted on: Oct 1, 2011 at 00:06 IST

Prima facie the case brought against IPS officer Mr. Sanjiv Bhatt by the Gujarat government appears to be made up. While I hold no brief for Mr. Bhatt, I can't help point out the striking inconsistency with which the BJP runs these two states, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh setting different standards of probity for different occasion as per their interests. On one hand, Raman Singh led government of Chhattisgarh is in no hurry to punish Babulal Agrawal, a 1988 batch IAS officer, accused by the IT department of amassing a whopping 253 crore besides other malfeasance. But on the other, an IPS officer of the same batch is sent behind the bar for turning whistle-blower, revealing some uncomfortable details about his political masters. If such is the treatment meted out to the officers not dancing to the tune of the politicians, there would be hardly anyone honest willing to join this prestigious service.

from:  Mukul Kanti Dutta
Posted on: Sep 30, 2011 at 23:06 IST
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