Nation stood in silence when he was targeted, children on Sanjiv Bhatt’s 57th birthday

“Today, however, instead of laughter, our home is steeped in deafening silence, the morning, instead of being filled with giddy anticipation of waking dad up to another amazing year, to gifts, flowers, cake and breakfast … is filled with a nauseating sense of helplessness as yet another year stares us in the face, of dad being away from us,” wrote Aakashi Bhatt and Shantanu Bhatt, children of Sanjiv Bhatt on Monday morning.

Former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in an alleged custodial death case dating back to 1990, has turned 57 on Monday in a Gujarat prison.

Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau at the time of the 2002 Muslim genocide. The senior police officer critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in the genocide, was suspended in 2011. Bhatt claimed Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister in 2002, told a meeting that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger.

Bhatt’s family, rights activists and opposition leaders said the case against him has been “politically motivated” and “fabricated.”

“Today, on our father, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt’s 57th birthday, before addressing him, I would like to address the citizens of this country which I call my own – Today it has been 2 years 3 months and 17 days since an upright officer was vindictively incarcerated in a fabricated case to silence his voice of truth and honesty, a voice that displayed in-dismissible and unwavering courage to stand up to this fascist regime,” son and daughter of Bhatt wrote on Facebook.

Aakashi and Shantanu Bhatt lament that people have looked the other way while their father is paying the price for standing up to fascists.

“An example was made of an upright officer, and you, the people of this nation stood in silence. He was incessantly targeted and victimised, and the nation looked the other way. His home was broken down, and the nation shut its eyes and ears. He was falsely framed and vindictively incarcerated in a fabricated case, ripping him away from his family, sentenced to languish behind bars for a crime he did not commit, and the nation still watched as silent spectators …,” Akashi Bhatt who is a post doctoral fellow at Oxford University wrote along with her brother.

The grief-stricken children wrote to their father: “Please know, that you have never been and will never be alone, for now, your family doesn’t just comprise of the three of us, but also of tens and thousands of people all across the world, who love you, respect you and continue to stand by you in our fight for justice.”

Daughter of Bhatt is hoping for his release and said: “It is my belief and resolve that this time, next year, you will be here with us, celebrating your birthday and the nation we all knew could and finally did exist.”

Read the full text here:

This is Aakashi and Shantanu Bhatt,

Early morning alarms blaring off, two sets of feet tip toeing around the house arranging flowers, decorations and gifts, air filled with the sweet and buttery scent of baked goodies, last minute frantic wrapping of gifts – a home filled with happiness, echoing laughter, warmth and abundance of love … this is what a typical morning of 21st December has always been like.
Today, however, instead of laughter, our home is steeped in deafening silence, the morning, instead of being filled with giddy anticipation of waking dad up to another amazing year, to gifts, flowers, cake and breakfast … is filled with a nauseating sense of helplessness as yet another year stares us in the face, of dad being away from us.

Today, on our father, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt’s 57th birthday, before addressing him, I would like to address the citizens of this country which I call my own – Today it has been 2 years 3 months and 17 days since an upright officer was vindictively incarcerated in a fabricated case to silence his voice of truth and honesty, a voice that displayed in-dismissible and unwavering courage to stand up to this fascist regime.

An example was made of an upright officer, and you, the people of this nation stood in silence. He was incessantly targeted and victimised, and the nation looked the other way. His home was broken down, and the nation shut its eyes and ears. He was falsely framed and vindictively incarcerated in a fabricated case, ripping him away from his family, sentenced to languish behind bars for a crime he did not commit, and the nation still watched as silent spectators …

Our father, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt stood up to this totalitarian regime at great personal and professional cost, and today, he is paying the heavy price for being, honest, upright and courageous.

As our father spends yet another year incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, his only crime that he did not buckle under political pressure and vindictive victimisation; I implore you all, to be the citizens, the nation that our father believes exists.

Dad,

Today on your 57th birthday, I wish that instead of writing to you from afar, we would have been celebrating together in the warmth and peace of our home. We may have been torn apart by excuse of men, who have never and will never know what love, family, honesty and integrity is. They may exalt in ripping us apart, but what would men like these understand, that the four of us can be kept physically apart, but we are never separated from one another, for you, reside in our very being, our every heartbeat, and we in yours; that you are our strength and the three of us, your unwavering resolute pillars of support. These lumpen elements believe that they can break you, little do they know, that they haven’t even scratched the surface of your tenacious strength. You, dad, are made up of strength, rigour and courage that are incomprehensible.

Today, on your 57th birthday, I wish you the world, for you deserve nothing less, but most importantly, I wish that India lives up to the idea of what you are fighting for; I wish for this country, the citizens of this country to rise up and be what you deserve.

You, Dad, are our hero, our pride!

Please know, that you have never been and will never be alone, for now, your family doesn’t just comprise of the three of us, but also of tens and thousands of people all across the world, who love you, respect you and continue to stand by you in our fight for justice.

It is my belief and resolve that this time, next year, you will be here with us, celebrating your birthday and the nation we all knew could and finally did exist.

We love you more than you can ever imagine!

Yours and only yours,
Aakashi & Shantanu