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New Delhi: A special investigation team of the Gujarat Police has arrested former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a case relating to “implicating innocent persons” in the 2002 communal violence in the state. Bhatt was arrested through a transfer warrant, as he has been in Palanpur jail in Banaskantha district since 2018 for a 27-year-old case on allegedly planting narcotics to frame a Rajasthan-based lawyer. He is also serving a life sentence in a custodial death case.
Bhatt is the third person to be arrested in the 2002-related case, after rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer R.B. Sreekumar. All three have alleged over the years that the then state government under Narendra Modi had not done enough to prevent or control the violence.
“We took Sanjiv Bhatt’s custody from Palanpur jail on transfer warrant and formally arrested him on Tuesday evening,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Chaitanya Mandlik said, according to NDTV. Mandik is a member of the three-member SIT formed to probe the case.
The crime branch registered the FIR against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by a Special Investigation Team to then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.
Sreekumar, Setalvad and Bhatt have been accused of conspiring to fabricate evidence in an attempt to frame up innocent persons in Gujarat riots cases.
While dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri whose husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed during the riots, the apex court had observed that “a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge.”
Against Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt, police have pressed Indian Penal Code 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 person from punishment or property from forfeiture) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy). Police took into consideration submissions made by the accused before the SIT formed by the Supreme Court to investigate riots cases as well as the Justice Nanavati-Shah Commission of Inquiry.