Teesta, Sreekumar and Bhat conspired to create false cases against Modi, BJP leaders, Gujarat Police say in chargesheet

The accused made an attempt to seek “capital punishment” by implicating the leaders in cases related to the 2002 riots

September 21, 2022 10:30 pm | Updated September 22, 2022 01:36 pm IST - AHMEDABAD

Teesta Setalvad, a prominent activist, carries her belongings as she leaves Sabarmati Central Jail after her release on interim bail, in Ahmedabad, on September 3, 2022.

Teesta Setalvad, a prominent activist, carries her belongings as she leaves Sabarmati Central Jail after her release on interim bail, in Ahmedabad, on September 3, 2022. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

The Gujarat Police on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against social activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officers R.B. Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt accusing them of conspiring to create false cases against then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in an attempt to seek “capital punishment” by implicating them in cases related to the 2002 riots.

While both Mr. Sreekumar and Mr. Bhatt are in prison, Ms. Setalvad was recently granted interim bail by the Supreme Court.

The three accused have been charged under Sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (to institute criminal proceeding against a person or falsely charge him with committing an offence while knowing there is no just ground for such proceeding), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

In the charge sheet, the Special Investigation Team has accused them of instituting false and malicious criminal proceedings against innocent people, including Mr. Modi, his then Cabinet colleagues and other BJP leaders, to frame them in connection with the riots cases.

The police have named Ms. Setalvad as the prime accused in the case. “Accused number one (Setalvad) tried to create false cases against then Chief Minister, Cabinet Ministers and senior BJP leaders and conspired to fabricate evidence against them in these cases to establish their involvement in the February 28, 2002 and other riots cases in which a large number of people were killed and in which the punishment is death sentence,” the police said.

The chargesheet, exceeding 6,000 pages, cites as many as 90 witnesses, including Congress’s Rajya Sabha member Shaktisinh Gohil and former IPS officer Rahul Sharma, who is now a lawyer in the Gujarat High Court.

The police have also named another former IPS officer A.K. Malhotra, who was a member of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT headed by former CBI chief R.K. Raghavan, as a witness in the case.

As per the chargesheet, Ms. Setalvad received ₹30 lakh at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel in 2002, and as secretary of the non-governmental organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace, she worked with leaders of the Congress party to spread misunderstanding among people in relief camps that Gujarat was unsafe for minorities and they would not get justice in the State.

The police have said that Ms. Setalvad tutored witnesses to give false testimony against Mr. Modi in the Gujarat riots cases.

Similarly, Mr. Sreekumar and Mr. Bhatt, the police claimed, created false testimonies claiming that Mr. Modi had ordered the police to go slow on controlling the riots that had broken up after the train burning incident at Godhra.

The chargesheet said that neither Bhatt nor Sreekumar was present in the meeting where Mr. Modi was accused of giving such instructions.

In charging the accused, the police have provided documentary evidence such as a copy of the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri in June 2006, in which she had accused 63 persons, including Mr. Modi of wilful dereliction of duty in preventing the riots and claiming that there was a “larger conspiracy” to instigate riots against Muslims.

Among the other evidence submitted by the police are Ms. Jafri's protest petition in the Gujarat High Court, her statement as a witness, copies of nine affidavits filed by Mr. Sreekumar before the SC-appointed SIT, and copies of fax and emails sent by Mr. Bhatt.

The trial in the case will be held before a sessions court, while the chargesheet was submitted in the metropolitan court of Ahmedabad.

In June, the police had lodged a case against Ms. Setalvad and others a few days after the Supreme Court dismissed Ms. Jafri's plea and said there was no ''title of material'' to support the allegation that violence after the Godhra incident was a ''pre-planned event'' owing to the conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the State.

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