Nine months after former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was reportedly picked up and arrested from his Ahmedabad residence in the presence of a massive police force, a Jamnagar session court on Thursday sentenced him to life imprisonment in a 30-year-old case of custodial death of an imprisoned man.
“He is paying the price for going against the government. Even after his arrest nine months ago, when massive police force brazenly entered our house and picked him (Sanjiv Bhatt), we have continued to be harassed,” Shweta Bhatt, wife of Sanjiv Bhatt, told Newsclick.
“Months ago, a car in which my daughter and I were travelling met with an accident when another car without a number plate rammed against it and kept pushing us back. Besides, there have been police personnel in civil clothes deployed outside our house, watching us,” she added.
In a press statement she stated, “On October 24, 1990, a major communal violence had broken in different parts of Jamnagar city following the stoppage of LK Advani’s rath yatra in Bihar and his subsequent arrest. Sanjiv Bhatt was posted as Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jamnagar Rural division at the time when the district of Jamnagar was divided into Jamnagar Rural, Jamnagar city and Khambalia. Following the absence of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) of Khambalia, Bhatt was handed over with additional charge of Khambalia division on October 16 1990. On October 24, Bhatt was handed over with additional charge of Jamnagar city as well following the absence of Pravin Gondia, IPS.
Subsequently as Bhatt was in charge for the entire Jamnagar district, a call for Bharat Bandh was given by VHP and BJP, all communally sensitive areas were on high alert. As riots broke out in Jamnagar on October 30, the Collector, District Magistrate, Mamlatdar and Executive Magistrate of Jamjodpur announced immediate implementation of curfew in the entire town. While the curfew was yet to begin, the whole city was in grip of violence, arson, loot and terror against the minority community. Bhatt’s first priority being to quell the riotous mob and implementation of the curfew, he handled various incidents of violence across the district and reached Jamjodpur police station at 1.30 pm on October 30, 1990. At the Jamjodpur police station, Bhatt was informed by CPI Bhanwad that a total of 133 people including deceased Prabhudad Madhavji Vaishnani had been arrested by the local police from various incidents of mass communal violence and arson across the city under C.R. No. 96/90 registered under section 147,148,336,337,395,436,151,327,452,454,455 of the IPC, Sec 3-6 of the TADA Act and Sec 135(1) of the Bombay Police Act.”
The release further states, “The deceased Prabhudas Madhavji Vaishnani was arrested by a team consisting of KN Patel, CPI Bhanvad and PSI Mahashakar Joshi hours before Bhatt and his team had reached Jamjodpur police station. None of the arrested 133 including the deceased were ever interrogated by Sanjiv Bhatt or his staff,”
“Sanjiv Bhatt is being harassed due to a private complaint against him,” Shweta Bhatt told Newsclick.
Noticeably, the complaint has been filed by one Amrutlal Madjavji Vaishnani, who is an active member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad that has accused Bhatt of making the rioters do sit-ups while in custody.
“The complaint against Sanjiv Bhatt is a classic case of political vindictiveness,” added Shweta Bhatt.
In the press statement, Shweta stated, “Since the commencement of the persecution, out of 300 witnesses only 32 were examined. The complainant who sat silent from 1992 to 2012 suddenly became vigilante and engaged senior advocates before the courts, including the supreme court. Sanjiv Bhatt was not allowed to call any witness. On having requested to summon Forensic Medicine Expert Doctor Reddy, the court had ordered at 12.30 pm for him to be present at 3.00 pm on the same day, despite being informed that Doctor Reddy was to arrive from Hyderabad. Moreover, the order to complete trial was conducted ex-parte without the knowledge and presence of lawyers representing Sanjiv Bhatt.”
“Sanjiv Bhatt was convicted for a crime he did not commit. It is almost as if as if one can only adorn the khaki uniform if one can let go of rioters, if you don’t raid or control communal violence and look other way,” Shweta Bhatt told Newsclick.