CJP condemns the arrest of Sanjiv Bhatt
Citizens for Justice and Peace strongly condemns the vindictive action of the Gujarat government in arresting Sanjiv Bhatt, senior IPS officer, in an action that is nothing short of an attempt to intimidate an important witness in the Zakiya Ahsan Jaffri and CJP criminal complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others. This action of the Gujarat police, under the direct instructions of the state’s home minister – Narendra Modi, amounts to tampering with evidence and direct intimidation of a key witness. It is also a cheap attempt to slur his character and standing.
Key issues need to be raised here. One, that through his affidavit before the hon’ble Supreme Court dated April 2011 he had testified to criminal and unconstitutional instructions being issued by Modi at a late-night meeting on February 27, 2002, the day of the Godhra incident. In his statements before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, he also gave documentary data about Modi’s abdication of responsibility on February 28, 2002, the day attacks on Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad were in full swing. Finally, last but not least, in an affidavit filed before the Gujarat high court recently, Bhatt had even mentioned that both Modi and Amit Shah, former minister of state for home, had tried to intimidate and pressurise him into not giving facts and evidence in the possession of the State Intelligence Bureau, related to the assassination of former minister of state for revenue, Haren Pandya. The CBI investigation into the Pandya assassination has recently been severely criticised by the Gujarat high court.
Most critically, Bhatt had challenged this FIR for which he was arrested, through writ petition 135/2011 in the Supreme Court. (This criminal complaint is allegedly a fabricated FIR filed in June 2011 by KD Panth, his former driver, alleging that Bhatt had pressurised him into filing an affidavit to support the officer’s claim that he was present at the meeting held at the chief minister’s residence on February 27, 2002). The Supreme Court had issued notice to the Gujarat government on July 29, 2011. This hasty and vindictive, even desperate, action of the Gujarat police, while the matter is under consideration by the Supreme Court, raises serious issues of contempt of the highest court, due process and, most importantly, intimidating a witness critical to a trial to ensure public justice. With our matter now awaiting charge-sheeting before a Gujarat magistrate’s court, the arrest of Bhatt is also a clear attempt by the state of Gujarat to warn us all collectively and individually of repercussions if we struggle for justice. It is a pathetic subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law.
(Press release issued by Citizens for Justice and Peace on October 1, 2011.)