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Gujarat Court Rejects Bail Applications of Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar

The court said that witness statements show that both the activist and former police officer were "actively involved in the conspiracy" against against the then Gujarat government.

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New Delhi: A sessions court in Ahmedabad on Saturday denied bail to activist Teesta Setalvad and former Gujarat police officer R.B. Sreekumar, who were arrested by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for allegedly fabricating documents to frame innocent people in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases.

Additional principal judge D.D. Thakkar said that both the orders are rejected. “On perusing statement of witnesses, it appears that both these applicants and others were actively involved in the conspiracy against against the then C.M. and Ministers, police officers as well as Bureaucrat etc (sic),” the court order read.

Judge Thakkar also said that it appears that Zakia Jafri’s 2006 complaint to the SIT investigating the Gujarat riots cases was “inspired and instigated” by Setalvad, noting that Sreekumar and other accused are “shown as one of the prime witnesses of the complaint”.

“… considering the rival contention of both the sides as well as affidavit and documents filed by both the sides, this court do not find it to be fit to exercise discretion in favour of the applicants-accused,” the order reads.

Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested by the Ahmedabad crime branch on June 25, on the basis of a first information report (FIR) that filed a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence).

In its affidavit, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the case has alleged that Setalvad and Sreekumar were part of a larger conspiracy carried out at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel to destabilise the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Narendra Modi.

It has alleged that Setalvad was paid Rs 30 lakh at Patel’s behest soon after the Godhra train burning incident of 2002.

Sreekumar was a “disgruntled government officer” who “abused the process for damning the elected representatives, bureaucracy and police administration of the whole state of Gujarat for ulterior purposes”, the SIT claimed.

Another former police officer, Sanjiv Bhatt, was also accused in the case. He was already in custody for a custodial death case.

The FIR against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt was registered a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by Zakia Jaffri challenging the Gujarat high court’s order that rejected a probe into Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the anti-Muslim Gujarat violence. Jaffri is the widow of Ehsan Jaffri, a former Congress MP who was killed during the violence.