The special investigation team (SIT), which gave a clean chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the Gulberg Society massacre case, dismissed IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's evidence after a witch-hunt, a lawyer in the case said on Friday. The lawyer — not Bhatt's lawyer — who did not want to be named at this stage said the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had used the IPS officer's career record and emails to discredit him.
Bhatt has claimed he attended a meeting on February 27, 2002 — hours after the Sabarmati Express train was burnt near Godhra, triggering riots across Gujarat — where Modi instructed top police officials and bureaucrats "to let Hindus vent their anger".
The SIT probed Bhatt's track record after Dharmesh Shukla, an accused in the Gulberg massacre case, objected to recording of Bhatt's statement because "he is a police officer of dubious character… playing in the hands of vested interests."
According to the SIT report exonerating Modi, Gujarat was asked to provide details of inquiries against Bhatt.
"He (Bhatt) was granted three promotions on one day on 21 September, 2007, after dropping three inquiries against him. He has not been promoted to IGP level on account of a pending inquiry," the SIT report notes, quoting the government's reply.
From this reply, the SIT has "inferred" that Bhatt "has an axe to grind against the Gujarat government and therefore his evidence is ill motivated and cannot be relied upon".
The SIT also studied emails retrieved from Bhatt's account — which he claims was hacked by the state — and found "some vested interests including Bhatt were trying to use the SC/SIT as a forum for settling their scores and… Bhatt was colluding with vested interests to see (that) some kind of charge sheet is filed against Modi."