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Zakia Jafri Judgment Fallout: Sanjiv Bhatt Formally Arrested for Forgery and Conspiracy

Sabrang India |
Bhatt, who had been named as co-accused along with Teesta Setalvad and RB Sreekumar, was formally arrested in the case and moved from the Palanpur jail where he was serving sentence in a matter pertaining to custodial death.
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After journalist and activist Teesta Setalvad, and former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar, were arrested in wake of the judgment in the Zakia Jafri case and accused of conspiracy and forgery, co-accused former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was also formally arrested by Ahmedabad police on July 12, 2022. Bhatt and Sreekumar were the two whistle-blowers who spoke out about the Gujarat government’s alleged role in the 2002 violence.

Bhatt was already behind bars, serving a life sentence in connection with a custodial death case and was lodged at Palanpur jail in Banaskantha. As per information from syndicated news, the latest FIR was filed by the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) against Bhatt as well as Sreekumar and Setalvad. They were accused of criminal conspiracy and forgery.

According to The Hindu, Bhatt is specifically accused of forging documents, including the wireless alert message that he produced before the Godhra inquiry commission and later before the Supreme Court-appointed SIT.

It may be noted that the FIR was lodged after June 24, 2022 when the Supreme Court dismissed the Zakia Jafri case. In it, the apex court gave a clean chit to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots case and further criticised the three aforementioned for “keeping the pot boiling”. The DCB FIR quoted this order extensively.

The first to be arrested after the court judgement was Setalvad on June 25. She was whisked away from her Mumbai house by the Gujarat ATS while Sreekumar was picked up from Gandhinagar. Both were booked under sections 468 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence, 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.

Soon after the arrest, Setalvad and others received overwhelming support from various international rights groups, journalist collectives, and people's organisations. All demanded the immediate release of the people put behind bars for voicing dissent and calling for accountability in the Gujarat riots case.

Meanwhile, Setalvad’s bail plea was adjourned to July 15 as the state government asked for more time to file their response in the case.

Courtesy: Sabrang India

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