‘I was pressured to withdraw my report on Haren Pandya's murder'
Sanjiv Bhatt files affidavit in High Court against Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
Dropping yet another bombshell, suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Tuesday filed an affidavit in the Gujarat High Court alleging that Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his former Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah, had repeatedly tried to pressure him to withdraw his report and destroy the documentary evidence which he had placed on record regarding the murder of the former Minister, Haren Pandya.
“Failing to persuade me either to withdraw my report or destroy the very important documentary evidences regarding the role of certain highly placed State functionaries/politicians and senior police officers in the killing of Haren Pandya, I was removed from the post of Superintendent of Police in-charge of the Sabarmati central jail and was kept without a posting for over two-and-a-half months,” he said in the affidavit.
Mr. Bhatt, who had created a flutter by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Mr. Modi's alleged “dubious role” in the 2002 communal riots, had earlier made a startling revelation that it was Tulsiram Prajapati, the close aide of the fake encounter victim Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who had actually pulled the trigger on Mr. Pandya, who was killed in the morning of March 26, 2003. He had maintained that Asgar Ali, the key accused from Hyderabad who recently was acquitted by the High Court, had informed him about Prajapati's role in the Pandya murder case in 2003, when he was lodged in the Sabarmati central jail, where Mr. Bhatt was the jail superintendent.
Mr. Bhatt also claimed that he had immediately brought the information to the notice of Amit Shah, then the Minister of State for Home.
In his affidavit, Mr. Bhatt said he had collected the “very important documentary evidences” regarding the roles of some “highly placed functionaries, politicians and others” and forwarded the same to Mr. Shah without realising that the Minister would not appreciate it. He said he had immediately forwarded the “said documentary evidences under a report to the Home department, the Government of Gujarat, for further appropriate action as required by law.” But the same afternoon he received a phone call from Mr. Shah, in which he expressed his “severe displeasure on the report and the accompanying documentary evidences forwarded to the Home department.”
Mr. Bhatt claimed that he was told by Mr. Shah to “immediately withdraw the report and destroy the unsavoury documentary evidence.” But rather than carry out the instructions, he thought it prudent to send another report along with copies of the documentary evidences, directly addressed to the Minister of State for Home, “thereby placing on record the telephonic conversation and also ensuring that the said crucial evidence was not disregarded or destroyed by interested parties.”
Mr. Bhatt claimed that both Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah were “highly disturbed and agitated” by his act, whereby the evidence was “kept on record despite their instructions to the contrary.”
He also claimed that he was “time and again directed to withdraw the communication” by which the evidence was placed on record. But consequent to his continued refusal to oblige the political bosses and carry out their “illegal verbal directions,” he was transferred, the affidavit said.
He further claimed that from November 2003 onwards he was repeatedly sought to be persuaded by Mr. Modi and Mr. Shah “to facilitate the withdrawal of the communication” sent by him in his capacity as the jail superintendent “delineating” the “functionaries/politicians and senior police officers of the State of Gujarat in the killing of Shri Haren Pandya,” in his report.
But “despite strong and coercive persuasion, the petitioner, being duty-bound, refused to connive in or facilitate the act of withdrawing and/or destroying the communication sent by me in my capacity as the Superintendent of Police in-charge of Sabarmati Central Prison,” Mr. Bhatt said.