SIT arrests Sanjiv Bhatt in Gujarat riots forgery case

This is the third arrest after Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer Sreekumar 

July 13, 2022 12:55 am | Updated 09:49 am IST - AHMEDABAD:

Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in interaction with The Hindu in August 2015 at his residence in Ahmedabad.

Former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in interaction with The Hindu in August 2015 at his residence in Ahmedabad. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case of forgery and fabrication of evidence in connection with the 2002 riots has arrested dismissed IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, making the third arrest after social activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer R.B. Sreekumar

The SIT is probing allegedly fabricating evidence of conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat riots to falsely implicate certain persons including the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister. 

The SIT has brought Mr. Bhatt from the Palanpur jail where he is serving life term in a custodial death case in Jamnagar district. He was lodged in the Palanpur jail on charges of planting drugs on a lawyer in 1996. 

Transfer warrant

As per the sources, the SIT obtained a transfer warrant from the metropolitan court and brought him to Ahmedabad on Tuesday night. He will likely be produced before the court on Wednesday.  

The police have accused Mr. Bhatt of forging documents, including the wireless alert message that he had produced before the Godhra inquiry commission and later before the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.

Earlier, Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar were arrested and remanded in police custody till July 2. Both have been sent to judicial custody and have applied for bail. 

The FIR lodged by the police inspector of Ahmedabad detection of crime branch 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.

The 10-page FIR provides details of alleged forgery and cites observations from the apex court verdict delivered on June 24.

The police crackdown on Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar came on June 25, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 riots case as the court endorsed the report of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) which had filed a closure report against Mr. Modi and others. 

The apex court dismissed the allegations of “larger conspiracy” behind the communal riots in 2002 while rejecting the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, who was killed along with 69 others in Gulberg Society massacre in Ahmedabad in 2002. 

Ms. Setalvad and her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) were co-petitioners with Ms. Zakia Jafri in the petition filed against Mr. 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. 

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