Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia on Sunday wrote an open letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi challenging the Chief Minister to arrest him “implicating” him in the “false” complaint of a police constable, K. D. Panth, against the arrested IPS officer, Sanjiv Bhatt.
The complaint of Mr. Panth, on the basis of which Mr. Bhatt was arrested on September 30 and is still behind the bars, became a sensational issue when an advocate Vijay Kanara, also the vice-president of the State Congress Legal Cell, approached the acting Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court late Saturday night, seeking protection against his police arrest. .
Mr. Kanara, said to have become the target of the Gujarat police because he had drafted the affidavit filed by Mr. Panth before the Supreme Court, was appointed amicus curie in the Zakia Jafri case accusing Mr. Modi and 62 others in the 2002 communal riots in the state. In the affidavit, Mr. Panth, who in 2002 was the official driver of Mr. Bhatt, had supported the IPS officer's claim that he was present at the meeting convened by the Chief Minister on the night of February 27, 2002, in which he allegedly “directed” the police to “allow Hindus to vent their anger on Muslims.”
Mr. Panth subsequently filed a complaint at the Ghatlodiya police station claiming that Mr. Bhatt had “threatened and forced” him to sign the affidavit. He had also alleged that before signing the affidavit, Mr. Bhatt and Mr. Kanara had taken him to Mr Modhvadia's residence where he was told that the central government had made all preparations for upstaging the Modi government and that the Chief Minister would not survive for long.
After seeing some hectic police activities around his office and residence, Mr. Kanara, realizing the gravity of the situation, rushed to the residence of the acting chief justice A. L. Dave, seeking his protection. Mr. Dave directed him and his advocate colleague B. M. Mangukiya, also a Congress sympathizer, to justice R. H. Shukla, who after hearing his plea directed the police not to take any action till the afternoon of Monday when his petition in this regard would be taken up for hearing in the High Court.
Mr. Kanara in his petition has alleged that he was being “used” as a conduit by the state government to reach Mr. Modhvadia, the actual target besides Mr Bhatt, who had been arrested only because he had named the Chief Minister and the former Minister of State for Home Affairs, Amit Shah, implicating them in the murder of another former Minister of State for Home, Haren Pandya.