Gujarat Police form SIT to probe Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt

Police formed a Special Investigation Team to collect documents submitted by them in 2002 Gujarat riots cases

June 27, 2022 01:59 am | Updated 01:59 am IST - AHMEDABAD

Social activist Teesta Setalvad at Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Ahmedabad on Sunday, June 26, 2022. File

Social activist Teesta Setalvad at Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Ahmedabad on Sunday, June 26, 2022. File | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

A day after arresting former top police official R.B. Sreekumar and activist Teesta Setalvad for alleged forgery regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots cases, the Gujarat Police on Sunday formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe their role in the case.

The SIT is headed by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) Deputy Inspector General Deepan Bhadran while Superintendent of Police of the ATS Sunil Joshi and Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Ahmedabad crime branch Chaitanya Mandlik are its members.

The police will collect the documents submitted by the three accused — Ms. Setalvad, Mr. Sreekumar, and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt — in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

“The investigation is underway and we are procuring documents submitted by the accused before the Commission of Inquiry, SIT formed by the Supreme Court to investigate 2002 Gujarat riots cases, and different courts,” said Mr. Mandlik.

He added that the affidavits and other documents were the main basis for the FIR lodged against the accused.

The investigators are not ruling out the involvement of other people in creating false documents, using them in judicial processes to implicate people in cases of serious crimes such as communal riots.

“The FIR lodged by the DCB is based on the observations made by the Supreme Court in its judgment, which said, ‘As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with as per law,’ Mr. Mandlik said.

‘Larger conspiracy’

Ms. Setalvad and her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace were co-petitioners with Zakia Jafri in the petition filed against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the Supreme Court alleging “larger conspiracy” during the 2002 communal riots in which more than 1,000 people were killed across the State.

Ms. Zakia Jafri’s husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots in Gulberg Society massacre in which 70 people were killed.

Mr. Mandlik said Mr. Sreekumar and Ms. Setalvad were not “cooperating” with the police following their arrest.

The police have also begun the process of getting a transfer warrant for Mr. Bhatt’s custody in connection with the FIR.

On Sunday, the police produced Mr. Sreekumar and Ms. Setalvad before a court in Ahmedabad which granted their remand till July 1. Both will be produced before the court on July 2 as there is a holiday in Ahmedabad on July 1 owing to the annual Rath Yatra.

The FIR lodged by the police inspector of the DCB invoked Sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

In the FIR, the police stated that the accused have “abused the process of law” and even the Supreme Court, in its judgment delivered on June 24, recognised that fact.

On Ms. Setalvad’s allegation that she was roughed up and her apprehension about threat to life, the Crime Branch DCP said “the process was followed” and added that she was free to lodge a complaint before the court on her grievances.

After placing her under arrest on Sunday, the police took her for a medical check-up.

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