The special investigation team (SIT) probing charges against whistleblowers activist Teesta Setalvad, retired DGP R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt told a city sessions court on Friday that the trio were allegedly part of a “larger conspiracy” for “dismissal or destabilisation” by “hook or by crook” of the then state government.
The SIT filed an affidavit by citing two unnamed witnesses and claimed that the conspiracy to malign Gujarat’s image was hatched by trio “at the behest of Late Shri Ahmed Patel, then Member of Parliament from Rajya Sabha and political advisor of the president of the Indian National Congress.”
The SIT was opposing the bail pleas filed by Setalvad and Sreekumar.
“The applicant (Setalvad) held a meeting with Ahmed Patel and received Rs 5 lakh at the first instance, where the money was given to her by one of the witnesses on the instruction of Patel. Two days later, they met at the Circuit House at Shahibaug in Ahmedabad, where she received Rs 25 lakh more from Patel. This amount was not for relief work, as relief activity was carried out by Gujarat Relief Committee. There were many other political leaders in the meeting,” read the affidavit.
Citing the witnesses, the SIT further claimed that Setalvad along with Sanjiv Bhatt met Patel at his New Delhi residence four months after the genocide “in a clandestine manner”. The SIT claimed that they also met other political leaders of the ruling party at the Union later “to implicate senior leaders of the BJP government in Gujarat.”
The SIT claimed that in 2007, the UPA government conferred Padma Shri on Setalvad “for malicious and vexatious prosecution.”
The affidavit was submitted by investigating officer, assistant commissioner of police, Baldevsinh C Solanki.
Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested by the Gujarat Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad on 26 June, two days after the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea filed by Setalvad and Zakia Jafri, the wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed by Hindutva mob during genocide.
Jailed whistleblower police officer Sanjiv Bhatt who, as a whistleblower, exposed Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat Muslim genocide, was arrested on Tuesday by the SIT.
Several international organisations of human rights including United Nationalist human rights body had criticised the case against the trio and called for the release of Bhatt, Setalvad and Sreekumar.