They take exception to shoddy treatment meted out to the arrested IPS officer

In a surprise development, the Gujarat IPS Officers' Association has raised its voice against the “ill-treatment” meted out to their arrested colleague, Sanjiv Bhatt, and has decided to stand by his “harassed family.” They even questioned Ahmedabad Police Commissioner Sudhir Sinha, who is only second in the list of seniority after the acting Director-General of Police, Chittaranjan Singh, for allegedly “allowing” the victimisation of Mr. Bhatt and harassment of his family members by repeatedly sending search parties to his house.

After a meeting of the Association on Saturday night, during which a resolution was passed to show “solidarity” with the family of Mr. Bhatt, three senior IPS officers and batch-mates of Mr. Bhatt called on his wife, Shweta Bhatt, at her residence.

It is perhaps the first time that IPS officers have visited the family members of a colleague arrested for apparently challenging the Chief Minister.Some 35 IPS officers from across the State assembled in the city to attend the wedding of the daughter of a senior IPS officer, where the meeting of the Association was scheduled. They took exception to Mr. Bhatt being kept in a dingy, stinking cell in the crime branch office before being sent to judicial custody and having been denied home-made food.

Sources in the association said the sentiment was so strong among the officers that both Mr. Singh and Mr. Sinha felt cornered by the fellow officers and politely declined offers to take over as the president of the Association, following which a relatively junior officer, Deepak Swaroop, was nominated. The Association also adopted another resolution demanding that the State government appoint a full-time DGP.

Asked about the Association meeting, Mr. Singh attempted to play down the development claiming that it was just a “routine meeting” and some of the officers did feel strongly about “what has happened” at Mr. Bhatt's residence. But the resolution was “not against anyone” and there was also no question of “supporting or opposing” the IPS officer in as far as the “legal issues” were concerned. “The law will take its own course in respect of Mr. Bhatt,” he asserted. Ms. Bhatt said Ahmedabad Joint Police Commissioner Atul Karwal, border range Inspector-General of Police V.M. Parghi and Rajkot range IGP Pravin Sinha, had called on her.

Mr. Bhatt was arrested on September 30 following a complaint by his driver, police constable K.D. Panth, who alleged that the IPS officer had “threatened and forced” him to sign a false affidavit in support of his claim that he attended the controversial meeting at the residence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi on the night of February 27, 2002, in which Mr. Modi allegedly “directed” the police to “allow the Hindus to vent their anger” against the minorities.

Meanwhile, more organisations have come out in support of Mr. Bhatt for standing up to the Modi regime. Members of the Gujarat Brahma Samaj on Sunday took out a rally in Ahmedabad to express solidarity with the arrested IPS officer.