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Thursday, Dec 08, 2022

Teesta tried to frame Modi, officials over riots: SIT chargesheet

While Setalvad is out on bail, retired DGP Sreekumar has been in custody since June 25. Bhatt is lodged in a Palanpur jail, convicted in a custodial death case of 1990.

Activist Teesta Setalvad outside Sabarmati Central Jail. (File Photo)

The Gujarat Special Investigation Team, probing allegations of fabrication of evidence linked to the 2002 riots, has filed a chargesheet against activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, accusing them of collusion to try and implicate Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister, and top officials in crimes punishable with death.

The chargesheet, it is learnt, accuses Setalvad of filing petitions and applications in the name of Zakia Jafri, wife of the slain former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri, for political and personal gains and with the intention of involving the then Chief Minister in the larger conspiracy behind the February 27, 2002 train burning incident in Godhra and the riots that followed.

DIG Deepan Bhadran, who heads the SIT and is part of the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), confirmed to The Indian Express that the chargesheet was filed Tuesday in the court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

The chargesheet, it is learnt, alleges that after riots broke out following the Godhra incident, Setalvad and (the late) Congress leader Ahmed Patel, Bhatt and Sreekumar contacted each other and held several meetings – a charge the SIT had made earlier in its affidavit in court in July.

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Reached for comment, Setalvad’s lawyer Vijay Hiremath said he has not yet seen the chargesheet.

S M Vora, advocate for Sreekumar, said he has not received the chargesheet.

In July, Ahmed Patel’s daughter Mumtaz Patel had described the SIT’s charge as “really unfortunate”. “All I would like to say is that it’s unfair but very easy to use a deceased person’s name for headlines and sensationalism. He is not here to defend himself and as a family, we don’t have any more comments as we were not involved in his work,” she told The Indian Express.

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(From left) Retired DGP R B Sreekumar, Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt. (File)

Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat police on June 25 following an FIR against her a day after the Supreme Court dismissed Jakia Zakia’s plea against the SIT clean chit to Modi and others over allegations of conspiracy in the riots. She was granted interim bail by the Supreme Court on September 2.

Setalvad and Sreekumar’s regular bail petitions are scheduled for hearing on September 28 in the Gujarat High Court. Sreekumar too was arrested on June 25. Bhatt has been in Palanpur jail following conviction in a 1990 custodial death case.

The three were booked under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 468, 469 (forgery), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) and 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment or property from forfeiture).

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It is learnt that the SIT, in its chargesheet, has claimed that the accused fabricated evidence and gave false testimonies with the intention of securing favourable orders, framing people and transferring cases to another state to defame Gujarat.

The chargesheet, it is learnt, stated that Setalvad submitted an application dated June 8, 2006, in the name of Jafri, to the Gujarat police chief naming 63 people, more than four years after the riots.

After the Gujarat High Court rejected the special criminal application filed in the name of Jafri, Setalvad filed an SLP challenging it before the Supreme Court as part of the conspiracy, the SIT is learnt to have said.

The chargesheet, it is learnt, accuses Sreekumar of misusing his position as the then Additional DGP, attending meetings with Setalvad, presenting back-dated registers and information as false evidence and providing false testimony in affidavits.

First published on: 21-09-2022 at 04:12:03 pm
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