The Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, was arrested on Friday on a complaint lodged some three months ago 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.
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.
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 evidences” regarding Mr. Pandya's murder, but he refused to oblige them.
His arrest was condemned by human rights activists who said it was “yet another instance of fascism thriving in the State.”
The former Chief Minister and Congress leader, Shankarsinh Waghela, said it was an example of the Modi government's “vindictive attitude.”