Gujarat: Special investigation team files chargesheet against Teesta Setalvad, 2 others

Times of India | 5 days ago | 22-09-2022 | 05:44 am

Gujarat: Special investigation team files chargesheet against Teesta Setalvad, 2 others

AHMEDABAD: The special investigation team (SIT) has filed a voluminous chargesheet against social activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for fabrication of evidence to establish conspiracy behind the 2002 riots to frame "innocent" persons, including the then chief minister Narendra Modi. The SIT has cited 90 witnesses in support of its accusations and included seven witnesses who have recorded their statements before judicial magistrates under the provisions of section 164 of the CrPC, making the testimonies a material evidence. There are 53 witnesses including many who once worked closely with Setalvad, including a couple of advocates and riot survivors. The witnesses cited include Raiskhan Pathan, her former aide who turned against her later, and survivors of Gulbarg Society, Naroda Gam, Ode village, Sardarpur and Best Bakery massacres of the post-Godhra riots. These include prime witness Imtiyazkhan Pathan of the Gulbarg Society massacre; Yasmin Shaikh, the sister-in-law of Zaahira Shaikh, prime witness in Best Bakery case in Vadodara, former IPS officer Rahul Sharma who had briefly contributed in the probe of riots cases of Ahmedabad by obtaining mobile call records etc. Chargesheet filed against Teesta, Sreekumar, BhattThe special investigation team (SIT) on Wednesday filed a 6,300-page chargesheet against social activist Teesta Setalvad, former DGP R B Sreekumar and ex-IPS Sanjiv Bhatt, citing 90 witnesses to substantiate charges of fabricating evidence to frame 63 persons including the then chief minister Narendra Modi for a purported 'larger conspiracy behind the 2002 riots'. Sreekumar and Bhatt are behind bars, while Setalvad has been granted interim bail by the Supreme Court in this case. After the investigation, the SIT has charged the three with criminal conspiracy, forgery, fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital punishment, falsely instituting criminal proceedings against people despite knowledge that there was no just ground for the same and framing of incorrect records by a public servant. According to the chargesheet, Setalvad and the other accused held meetings with the late Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Ahmed Patel, and she received Rs 30 lakh. While she was in contact with Congress leaders, Setalvad met riots survivors at relief camps and lured them saying she would get them justice and financial compensation. The accused persons created evidence of incidents that had not occurred and tried to implicate people who were not connected to the events. They made witnesses sign affidavits that had false details and made witnesses give false evidence in court. The accused tried to shift the riots cases out of Gujarat and defamed the state in the process. Setalvad did so to gain political benefit and to keep the issue burning. Sreekumar has been accused of misusing his position as a government official, of making back-dated entries in a register and filing affidavits with incorrect facts before the Godhra riots inquiry commission by falsely accusing other government officials of being inactive during the riots. He also allegedly threatened a witness, who had fallen out with Setalvad. "You compromise with Teesta or else the Muslims will become your enemy and you will be a target of the terrorists. Let's work together and if we keep on fighting internally, enemies will get the advantage of it. It will directly benefit Modi," a witness has been quoted as saying in the chargesheet. The probe report claims it was Setalvad who sponsored Sreekumar's service litigations by providing him with lawyers. For Bhatt, the chargesheet says he lied about his presence at the meeting held at Modi's residence on the evening of February 27, 2002, after the S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express had been torched near Godhra railway station in which 59 passengers including karsevaks returning from Ayodhya were killed. It says Bhatt made false claims that Modi had said to let Hindus express their anger. Bhatt was not supposed to be present at the meeting according to protocol. To establish his presence, he created false evidence and pressured witnesses. A constable, K D Panth, who was then posted under Bhatt in the intelligence bureau, has been cited as witness for his alleged abduction and swearing of a false statement.

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