New Delhi: Social
activists Saturday termed the arrest of Indian Police Service
officer Sanjiv Bhatt as "vindictive" and charged the Gujarat
government with silencing the witnesses who stood against it in
the 2002 communal riots.
"Sanjeev Bhatt was the one who stood up against the system. The
government's real and fascist face has got exposed," said National
Advisory Council member Harsh Mander at press conference here.
Bhatt was arrested Friday for allegedly threatening a policeman
and making him sign a false affidavit.
"Sanjiv Bhatt stood up and tried to speak about the role of
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and now the government is
harassing his family and him," said social activist Teesta
"We strongly condemn the vindictive action of the Gujarat
government in arresting Sanjiv Bhatt..(it) is nothing short of an
attempt to intimidate an important witness... against Chief
Minister Narendra Modi and 61 others," said Setalvad of the
Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an NGO.
The CJP and Zakia Ahsan Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP
Ehsan Jafri killed in the Gulberg Housing Society carnage in
Ahmedabad during the 2002 communal riots, filed the complaint
against Modi and 61 others. Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the
Supreme Court implicating Modi in the 2002 riots.
"It's a deliberate attempt from the government to send down a
clear message of dire consequences to the witnesses in the 2002
pogrom," said Setalvad.
Meanwhile, Prof Ram Puniyani, member
of the National Integration Council and noted activist Shabnam
Hashmi are planning nationwide protest against the Gujarat
government's move to harass the witnesses.
"Narendra Modi should be dismissed
before he subverts justice further", Puniyani and Hashmi said in a
joint statement while demanding immediate release of Sanjiv Bhatt
and safety of whistleblowers.
The activists said they would be
declaring future course of action on the issue on October 03.