A day after SC judgement, Gujarat police detain Teesta Setalvad

Updated on Jun 26, 2022 02:06 AM IST

In a letter written to senior police inspector of Santacruz police station however, Setalvad alleged that some police officers of Gujarat police especially, one J M Patel and one lady officer, entered her bedroom and assaulted her

Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) detain activist Teesta Setalvad from Santacruz police station in connection with a foreign fund case related to her NGO, in Mumbai, on Saturday. (Vijay Bate/HT Photo)
Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) detain activist Teesta Setalvad from Santacruz police station in connection with a foreign fund case related to her NGO, in Mumbai, on Saturday. (Vijay Bate/HT Photo)
ByVinay Dalvi and Maulik Pathak

A day after the Supreme Court ruled out a larger conspiracy behind 2002 Gujarat riots and expressed the need to proceed against those “disgruntled officers of the State of Gujarat and others” whose “coalesced efforts was to crate sensation by making false revelations,” the Gujarat police on Saturday detained activist Teesta Setalvad, and former DGP of Gujarat RB Sreekumar, from their residences in Juhu and Gandhinagar respectively.

On Friday, the apex court had upheld the clean sheet given by the court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) in February 2012 to then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots and dismissed petition filed by Zakia Jafri, who’s husband Ehsan Jafri had been killed in the riots, and had alleged a larger conspiracy.

In the immediate aftermath of the judgement, an FIR was registered on Saturday, based on a complaint by police inspector DB Barad against Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Sanjeev Bhatt, also a senior former Gujarat cadre IPS officer, who is already in jail, charged win a custodial torture case which he has always fiercely contested.

In the complaint, Barad cited Friday’s Supreme Court judgement that had said, “At the end of the day it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officers of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of the claims has been fully exposed by the SIT after thorough investigation…all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.”

Such officials need to be in the dock for “keeping pot boiling” with ulterior motive, the SC order had said.

In the riots that had engulfed Gujarat in 2002, as many as 69 persons were killed in the Gulbarg housing society in Ahmedabad, including Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. His wife Zakia Jafri and activist Teesta Setalvad’s organisation, Citizen for Justice and Peace, blamed the then Chief Minister Modi and about 60 others for their alleged inaction during the Gujarat riots. In 2012, the SIT rejected the claims of a conspiracy and submitted it to the local magistrate’s court, which accepted the report. Jafri challenged the report and sought a reinvestigation, which was rejected by the court in October 2017. She then approached the Supreme Court.

Based on Barad’s complaint, and the final report of the SIT, the Ahmedabad city crime branch on Saturday registered an offence against Bhatt, Sreekumar and Setalvad under sections 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence), 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) read with 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. based on the final report of the SIT, which enquired into Jafri’s allegations of larger conspiracy behind the post-Godhra riots in Gujarat.

On Saturday then, eight officials in two teams of the Gujarat anti-terrorism squad (ATS) reached Setalvad’s residence on Juhu’s Tara road around 2.30 pm. They took her into custody and informed the Santacruz police about her detention.

“After completing the formalities Setalvad was taken by the Gujarat police officers to Ahmedabad by road. They have registered a case against her. The case has been registered by Ahmedabad Crime branch,” said an officer attached to the Santacruz police station.

In a letter written to senior police inspector of Santacruz police station however, Setalvad alleged that some police officers of Gujarat police especially, one J M Patel and one lady officer, entered her bedroom and assaulted her.

“They did not allow her to speak to her lawyer, nor showed her any FIR or warrant. Eight to ten officers just barged into her compound and in the process she suffered bruises on her left hand,” said her lawyer, advocate Vijay Hiremath.

Setalvad said before the Gujarat police landed at her doorstep, some Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel enquired about the security at her bungalow and some officials of CISF from Narayan Rane’s bungalow, which is on the same road, had even visited her bungalow around 1 pm.

A senior Gujarat police official however did not acknowledge these allegations and said, on the condition of anonymity, “She along with Sreekumar will be put under arrest in a day or so after conducting necessary Covid-19 tests. Presently they have been detained,” said a senior Gujarat police official.

Gujarat police officials said that the state Crime Branch had reached out to the ATS to carry out the detention, because some of their “senior officials were in Mumbai at this time, where Setalvad resides.” Sreekumar, they said, was detained by the Crime Branch from his residence in Gandhinagar.

Ahmedabad crime branch’s Barad alleged in his complaint that the final report of the SIT indicated that Setalvad had “conjured / concocted / forged / fabricated facts and documents and / or evidence” and also influenced and tutored witnesses and made them depose on pre-typed affidavits.

It also takes note of the remarks made by SIT in one of its supplementary reports that 19 witnesses in the Gulbarg Society case that pre signed statements be taken on record. “The statements so presented were stereotyped copies / computerised statements given to them by Teesta Setalvad and Advocate Mr MM Tirmizi and they had merely signed such prepared statements,” said the complaint.

Bhatt, the then deputy inspector general of police, and Sreekumar, the then additional director general of police, are also accused of providing false information to the SIT, as per the FIR. Bhatt had in 2011 allegedly made a false claim before the SIT that he had attended a meeting at then chief minister Modi’s residence on February 27, 2002, after a railway bogie by which Karsevaks were returning from Ayodhya, was burnt down at Godhra, resulting in several deaths, and had allegedly relied on false and fabricated documents to substantiate his claim.

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