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Gujarat riots

SIT files charge sheet against Teesta Setalvad, R.B. Sreekumar, Sanjeev Bhatt

Print edition : Sep 22, 2022 T+T-

SIT files charge sheet against Teesta Setalvad, R.B. Sreekumar, Sanjeev Bhatt

Teesta Setalvad before being escorted to a sessions court, in Ahmedabad on September 3, 2022.

Teesta Setalvad before being escorted to a sessions court, in Ahmedabad on September 3, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

They stand accused of “fabricating evidence” and engaging in “forgery” in cases connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has filed a charge sheet against activist Teesta Setalvad, retired Director General of Police R.B. Sreekumar, and former police officer Sanjeev Bhatt for reportedly "fabricating evidence" and engaging in "forgery" in cases connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Set up to probe matters involving the three, the SIT filed the case in the Ahmedabad Metropolitan court on September 20, 2022. The charge sheet accuses the three of fabricating evidence in order to destablise the Narendra Modi-led State government of the time. Additionally, it alleges that Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt together tried to frame Modi and others with the aim of seeking “capital punishment”.

A file picture of Sanjeev Bhatt.
A file picture of Sanjeev Bhatt. | Photo Credit: JANAK PATEL

The charge sheet, which exceeds 6,000 pages, also accuses Sreekumar and Bhatt of having created fake documents while in service to implicate Modi and others in the riots. These documents, says the SIT, were used by Teesta Setalvad to file cases against the State government.

The SIT has named more than 90 witnesses, including former police officer Rahul Sharma and senior Congress leader Shankar Singh Gohil. The charge sheet accuses Teesta Setalvad and Sreekumar of tutoring witnesses, of Teesta having received Rs.30 lakh, and having worked to spread misunderstanding among people in relief camps that Gujarat was unsafe for minorities.

The violence unleashed in Gujarat in 2002 lasted almost three days. It was not the police but the Army that came in and defused the situation. The pogrom, one of the worst in India, left at least 1,000 people dead, thousands injured, and hundreds missing. In the aftermath of the riots, Muslim families spoke of alienation and fear and moved out of mixed residential areas to Muslim-dominated areas.

Teesta Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested on June 25 after the Supreme Court ruling in the Zakia Jafri case. Sreekumar is still in jail and Bhatt has been in prison since 2018 while Teesta Setalvad secured interim bail on September 2. (In 2019, Bhatt was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Gujarat court in a 1990 custodial death case.)