2002 Gujarat riots India

Congress denies allegation against Ahmed Patel

Gujarat Police have alleged that social activist Teesta Setalvad was working at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. In picture Ms. Setalvad is escorted out a court in Ahmedabad on July 2, 2022.  

Gujarat Police have alleged that social activist Teesta Setalvad was working at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. In picture Ms. Setalvad is escorted out a court in Ahmedabad on July 2, 2022.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress on Saturday stoutly refuted the allegations made by Gujarat Police that social activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer R.B. Sreekumar were working at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel to “destabilise” the Gujarat government headed by then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The party called the charges against the late Congress leader “mischievous and manufactured”.

The Gujarat Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) had made these claims in an affidavit opposing Ms. Setalvad’s bail application before a sessions court in the State.

The police stated that Ms. Setalvad — who received money as well as Padma Shri award, RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt were part “of the larger conspiracy” to destabilise and cause dismissal of the elected government by fabricating evidence to implicate top functionaries of the State with regard to the communal riots. Police claimed Ms. Setalvad was seeking a Rajya Sabha berth for herself and “also received ₹30 lakh from Ahmed Patel”. 

Adding to the Gujarat Police’s assertion, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the “driving force” behind the entire conspiracy and was working through Patel.

In a statement, Congress general secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh said that the Gujarat Police’s claims are part of Prime Minister Modi’s “systematic strategy to absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage unleashed when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2002.” He further said that it was his “unwillingness and incapacity” to control the carnage that had led the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to remind the Chief Minister of his r ajdharma.

“The Prime Minister’s political vendetta machine clearly does not even spare the departed who were his political adversaries. This SIT is dancing to the tune of its political master and will sit wherever it is told to. We know how an earlier SIT chief was rewarded with a diplomatic assignment after he had given a ‘clean chit’ to the Chief Minister,” he added.

The attempt, Mr. Ramesh said, was aimed at vilifying a deceased person who is obviously unable and unavailable to refute such brazen lies. Patel died on November 25, 2020 of COVID-related complications.

Patel’s daughter Mumtaz Patel also hit out at the BJP for maligning him. “I guess his name still holds weight to be used for political conspiracies to malign the Opposition. Why was Teesta Setalvad not rewarded during the UPA years with a Rajya Sabha berth? And why did the Centre until 2020 not prosecute my father for hatching such a big conspiracy,” Ms. Patel tweeted.

Later, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera hit out at the BJP for churning out conspiracy theories against PM Modi whenever Gujarat elections are around the corner. “Whenever Gujarat election is around they come up with these conspiracy theories. During the last Gujarat election too they had made similar wild claims. They had said, that a conspiracy was hatched by a few politicians in cahoots with Pakistan at a dinner in Delhi. They claimed former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also attended this dinner. But eventually, Mr. Modi had to apologise to Mr. Singh,” Mr. Khera said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Patra alleged that Patel was just the medium while Congress President Sonia Gandhi was the driving force behind the conspiracy to destabilise the BJP government in the State and damage Prime Minister Modi’s political career. He demanded answers from Ms. Gandhi on the revelations. Mr. Patra also countered the Congress’s claim on charges being “mischievous and manufactured”. He asked if the Supreme Court had also acted under “pressure” when it had slammed Ms. Setalvad and other accused for their “ulterior designs” and called for them to be put in the dock, leading to registration of a case and their arrest by the Gujarat police.

The BJP leader said the Congress appears to be keeping various kinds of denials ready and releasing them by changing dates. (With input from PTI)

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Printable version | Jul 17, 2022 8:44:19 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-refutes-gujarat-police-claims-on-ahmed-patel-bjp-alleges-patel-was-just-the-medium-sonia-gandhi-the-driving-force/article65647453.ece