New SIT to probe RB Sreekumar, Teesta Setalvad, Sanjiv Bhatt for criminal conspiracy

A day after arresting human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former top police official R.B. Sreekumar for alleged forgery regarding the 2002 Gujarat Muslim genocide cases, the Gujarat Police on Sunday formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe their role in the case.

The six-member SIT will be headed by the state’s Anti-Terrorism Squad DIG Deepan Bhadran.

The police said it will collect the documents submitted by the Setalvad, Sreekumar, and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in connection with the deadly anti-Muslim violence during Narendra Modi’s chief ministership of the state.

Setalvad, Sreekumar, and Bhatt long campaigned to get justice for victims of the 2002 genocide. The arrests have evoked condemnation within the country and abroad. The arrests follow an FIR lodged against the three at the Ahmedabad Detection of Crime Branch (DCB) on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to the then chief minister Narendra Modi, his council of ministers, and bureaucrats on their role in the 2002 genocide.

Setalvad and her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace were co-petitioners with Zakia Jafri in the petition filed against the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the Supreme Court.

“The investigation is underway and we are procuring documents submitted by the accused before the Commission of Inquiry, SIT formed by the Supreme Court to investigate 2002 riots cases, and different courts,” Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Ahmedabad crime branch Chaitanya Mandlik said to The Hindu. Mandlik is also a member of the SIT.

He further said that the affidavits and other documents were the main basis for the FIR lodged against the trio.

Mandlik also said to The Hindu that Sreekumar and Setalvad were not “cooperating” with the police following their arrest.

The police have also begun the process of getting a transfer warrant for Bhatt’s custody in connection with the FIR, he said.

The FIR lodged by the police inspector of the DCB invoked Sections 468, 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save a person from punishment or property from forfeiture), and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.