Mumbai: A group of
prominent citizens Monday condemned the arrest of Gujarat Police
Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Sanjiv Bhatt, terming it as "a
brazen attempt by the Gujarat government to violate the law,
intimidate witnesses and influence the course of public justice".
In a statement here, the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) said
that Bhatt is a crucial witness in several cases where senior
functionaries of the Gujarat government are implicated for
conspiracy in mass crimes, destroying evidence and subverting the
course of justice.
"However, the notice issued to the Gujarat government by the
Ahmedabad Sessions Court Ahmedabad today (Monday) and refusal by
the lower court in Ahmedabad to grant 14 days remand for custodial
interrogation last Saturday, a breakthrough in ensuring his
personal liberty and freedom," CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad said.
The other trustees who have signed the statement include: Alyque
Padamsee, I.M. Kadri, Nandan Maluste, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Anand,
Arvind Krishnaswamy, Javed Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash and
Ghulam Pesh Imam.
They said that the "illegal arrest" of Bhatt and attempts to trap
him inside the jail by slapping sections of the Indian Penal Code
not originally contained in the FIR are nothing short of "a misuse
of state power to crush the voice of a police officer who has
well-documented evidence against the culpability of key state
CJP made an appeal to all those committed to the rule of law and
justice, individuals and organizations to protest "this grossly
malafide action" of the Gujarat government.
The CJP urged that the action to arrest Bhatt (Sep 30) was "an
attempt to intimidate an important witness in the Zakia Ahsan
Jafri (widow of Congress ex-MP killed in the riots) and CJP
criminal complaints against Modi and 61 others".
Besides intimidating a key public witness and tampering with
evidence, the action is a "cheap attempt to slur his (Bhatt)
character and standing," the CJP said.
The CJP said that Bhatt had testified to criminal and
unconstitutional instructions allegedly issued by Chief Minister
Narendra Modi at a late night meeting on Feb 27, 2002, the day of
the Godhra train incident.
Bhatt has also given documentary data to the Supreme
Court-appointed SIT about Modi's abdication of responsibility on
Feb 28, 2002 when the attacks on Gulbarga Society and Naroda
Patiya in Ahmedabad were in full swing.
Last, in his recent affidavit before the Gujarat High Court, Bhatt
had mentioned that both Modi and then minister of state for home
Amit Shah had pressurized him into not giving facts and evidence
in possession of the State Intelligence Bureau pertaining to the
killing of former minister Haren Pandya.