Thursday, June 20, 2024

On 20th anniversary of Gujarat genocide, Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt writes:

This is Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt,

As we near 20 years of the Gujarat genocide, I cannot help but look back at the years gone by, years dedicated by Sanjiv and a few other brave souls in fighting this totalitarian regime, tooth and nail. While I look back on the past two decades, I request you to take a trip down memory lane with me; perhaps, it will inform you about the person Sanjiv is and about his fight against this fascist regime, which is much bigger than you or me.

I will spare you the visceral details of threats which Sanjiv, me and our children have been facing for the past 20 years and continue to face till this date from this regime. I won’t take your time with details of near miss experiences and the vindictive terror this regime tried to inflict on Sanjiv and us, his family these last 20 years – it isn’t for the faint of heart.

The easy thing in the face of all of this, would have been to resign from the services or to ask for deputation outside of Gujarat… abandon the fight for justice, stating this wasn’t our fight in the first place. The convenient thing would have been to bend to the whims of this draconian regime and follow other spineless individuals by faking amnesia and downright refuse to truthfully depose before the law, in order to appease this fascist government.

Did Sanjiv choose the easy or the convenient path?

NO, he did not!

Instead, Sanjiv, remained unwavering in his resolve and courageously continued to fight this draconian and vindictive regime ever since 2002, till present date, in pursuit of justice for the victims of the Gujarat Genocide, all the while bearing the brunt of this fascist regime… never doubling back, breaking or bending in his resolve.

It is easy to flee from the battlefield when the fight gets real and ugly or to comment from the comfort and safety of one’s house; however, it takes mettle, courage and diligence of another order to remain standing in the battlefield, fighting a long drawn unequal battle.

Walk with me down memory lane and catch a glimpse… a tip of the iceberg of Sanjiv’s life since 2002…

2002 – In 2002, Sanjiv was posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence in the Gujarat State Intelligence Bureau. In the aftermath of the 2002 State orchestrated massacre of Muslims, Narendra Modi embarked on a “Gaurav Yatra” (Victory March/parade) in September 2002 across the state of Gujarat, making several vicious and inflammatory remarks against the minority community of Muslims, further stoking communal tension in the state. The National Commission of Minorities, as part of their investigation requested the recordings of these speeches, which were taped as part of routine Intelligence Bureau (IB) procedure. There was immense political pressure to withhold these recording from even being filed in the official IB (Intelligence Bureau) records.

In the aftermath of the 2002 State orchestrated massacre of Muslims, Narendra Modi embarked on a “Gaurav Yatra” (Victory March/parade) in September 2002 across the state of Gujarat, making several vicious and inflammatory remarks against the minority community of Muslims, further stoking communal tension in the state.

While majority of the officers succumbed to these pressures, Sanjiv and a few other IB officials refused to look the other way and provided the National Commission of Minorities with the requested recordings.

Sanjiv along with two other high ranking IB officers was transferred overnight and were awarded with “punishment” postings for standing up against the Modi government.

A precedent was set, that this is an officer who will perform his duty by the book and will not succumb to political pressure or follow the narrative of Modi and Shah blindly.

In the later part of 2002, Haren Pandya, the late Home Minister of Gujarat, was assassinated in the months following his secret deposition before an independent Investigative commission led by Justice Iyer regarding the role of Modi in orchestrating the Gujarat Riots.

2003 – In 2003 Sanjiv was posted as the Superintendent of Sabarmati Central Jail.
An inmate named Asgar Ali, who was an accused in the assassination of Haren Pandya was lodged at the Sabarmati Central Jail at the time. Asgar Ali came forward and divulged information that Haren Pandya was killed by a man named Tulsiram Prajapati. It is important to note that Tulsiram Prajapati was later killed in a Fake Encounter in 2006.

As per protocol, Sanjiv immediately intimated the then Home Minister of Gujarat, now Home Minister of India (Amit Shah), about the revelations made by Asgar Ali to initiate process of re-opening and re-investigating the murder of Haren Pandya. Sanjiv was instructed to immediately destroy all documentary evidence related to this matter.

Sanjiv, refused to do so, and instead, forwarded this crucial information and revelation of Asgar Ali as well as his correspondence with Amit Shah to the Central Government of India as well as the Home Ministry of India.

As a punishment for having performed his duty with due diligence and honesty, Sanjiv was transferred overnight from his post as superintended of Sabarmati Jail.

In the history of modern India, it was the first time that thousands of inmates in the jail went on a hunger strike and filed affidavits in the high court to challenge the wrongful and politically motived transfer of Sanjiv. Under his supervision as superintendent of the Sabarmati central jail, Sanjiv had introduced many reforms and welfare measures to enforce humane treatment of the inmates and undertrials and to ensure that their human rights were upheld.

Having defied the malicious whims of the political duo, Sanjiv, an IPS officer on central deputation, continued to be posted to ‘punishment postings’, with his promotions being delayed unceremoniously at each step.

As the political footing of Modi and Shah became stronger, their means and manner of punishment for those who did not abide to their malicious whims grew dangerously vindictive.

While this regime continued to try and instil fear and subversion within the officials in the State of Gujarat, Sanjiv continued to diligently aid the victims of 2002 in their pursuit of justice from 2002-2009, while awaiting judicial investigation into the Gujarat Pogrom.

Being a serving Indian Police Service Officer, Sanjiv was privy to sensitive and classified information. Bound by oath, he could not have divulged any Govt/State related information until called upon by an appropriate forum. An appropriate forum being any judicial court or court appointed committee.

In 2009, a court appointed Special Investigation Team was formed to investigate the role and function of the State machinery in the Gujarat Pogrom of 2002.

While majority of state officials either feigned amnesia or refused to depose before the SIT, Sanjiv was the only person who courageously came forward and truthfully deposed before the SIT and the Nanavati Mehta Commission at great cost to his life and carrier.

2009 – Sanjiv started deposing before the SIT and the Nanavati-Mehta commission investigating the complicit role and function of the state machinery in the Gujarat Genocide.

Throughout his depositions spanning across 2009 till 2011, there were indications of real time leaks of his deposed testimony and the evidence submitted by him. The individuals called in to depose as well as the contents of the depositions were supposed to be classified as confidential information privy to only the investigative agency, yet the Gujarat Government, the very body being investigated was kept appraised of the real time proceedings confirming a leak within the SIT and its collusion with the Government of Gujarat.

Numerous attempts were made to discourage and threaten Sanjiv from not appearing before these commissions by high level officials in the state government at the behest of their political masters, but Sanjiv diligently and courageously continued to depose to bring the perpetrators of the 2002 genocide to justice at great personal and professional cost.

2011 – As part of the ongoing deposition, Sanjiv submitted a comprehensive sworn affidavit in the Supreme Court of India and before the National Commission of Minorities regarding the role and function of the State Government and other high ranking officials in orchestration of the Gujarat genocide, the assassination of Haren Pandya (the then home minister of Gujarat) as well as several extra judicial killings and fake encounters in the state of Gujarat carried out in the name of “protecting” the then chief minister of Gujarat

2011 – As an immediate aftermath of Sanjiv’s submission of the affidavit in the Supreme Court implicating Narendra Modi, he was immediately suspended.

Ever since 2002, but more so since 2011, Sanjiv has been continuously vindictively victimised.

Along with Sanjiv and our family facing numerous threats from the current regime and right-wing fanatics, judicial harassment was and continues to be used as a primary tool by the present regime to attempt to silence Sanjiv’s voice and break his resolve.

The victimisation steadily increased and grew bolder and more dangerous with the acceleration of Modi into power.

The immediate aftermath of having dared to speak up the truth not only witnessed the sudden re- opening of two, 30 year old cases with mala fide intent, but also Sanjiv’s unauthorised suspension.
It is important to note, that the two cases, one of 1990 and another of 1996, which the regime is presently using to vindictively hound, falsely frame and incarcerate Sanjiv, were duly investigated and subsequently stayed by the apex court over two decades ago. The State of Gujarat had filed a Revision petition in 1996, protecting its officers. However, In 2011, subsequent to Sanjiv filing a sworn affidavit in the SC against Modi, the State of Gujarat suddenly took a U-turn with malafide intent and sought to withdraw the Revision petition after 16 years of having diligently protected its officers.

The State government while having the power to suspend Sanjiv, did not have further jurisdiction. IPS officers are not State officers but are Indian Police Service officers on central deputation, the jurisdiction and power lying with the central home ministry.

Therefore, in order to set a strong precedent, and to attempt to silence Sanjiv’s voice of truth, the State government did what they could do the most at that time, Suspend him.

2014 – Narendra Modi assumes office as the Prime Minister of India, now having control over the Ministry of Home Affairs.

2015 – Shortly after Modi became the Prime Minister, Sanjiv was dismissed from duty under the frivolous grounds of “unauthorised absence”. This absence was due to his legal and moral obligation and duty to depose before the SIT and the Nanavati-Mehta commission investigating the complicit role and function of the state in the Gujarat Riots

Sanjiv was not just being punished for having the courage to bring out the horrific truth of the Gujarat Genocide by implicating certain high-level state functionaries in their role in the 2002 Gujarat Riot, but also for trying to bring into light the collusion between the SIT and the very State functionaries it was established to investigate.

2015-2018: The vindictive hounding continued

2018 – Mrs Zakia Jaffrey, in 2018 filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court challenging the clean chit given to Modi and appealing the apex court to re-investigate the role and function of Modi and his government in the 2002 riots.

Sanjiv is the primary witness of the State’s complicit role and function in the 2002 riots.

While on one hand, the Supreme Court kept delaying and postponing the date to hear Mrs Jaffrey’s appeal; on the other hand, they expeditiously falsely framed and arrested Sanjiv on frivolous grounds to silence and discredit the only witness that can directly link Modi to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

July 2018 – Sanjiv’s security cover was suddenly removed without any notice or clarification.

It is important to note that following Sanjiv’s deposition against Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court of India having assessed the imminent threat to Sanjiv and us, his family, had ordered the state of Gujarat to provide him with Y-Category security with immediate effect. The state of Gujarat in blatant insubordination, never provided the court ordered security cover, stating excuses like lack of manpower and infrastructure, and instead my husband was provided with minimal (2 guards) security. This minimal security was suddenly removed without any notice or explanation in July 2018.

August 2018 – A few days following the sudden withdrawal of Sanjiv’s security cover, the municipal corporation unlawfully broke down large portions of our house falsely stating it to be “illegal”. We have been living in this house for the past 23 years.

5th September 2018 – Sanjiv was taken away early in the morning under the pretext of questioning him in an over two decades old case which had already been thoroughly investigated and subsequently stayed by judicial court 20 years ago. Sanjiv was subsequently put under arrest without any reason or documentation.

Since September 2018 – This regime has left no stone unturned in applying delaying tactics and subverting due process of law. Not only was Sanjiv denied bail on frivolous grounds, but in a blatant miscarriage of justice, he was denied a fair trial and was falsely framed and implicated for a crime he did not commit.

20th June 2019 – Judicial harassment is being used as an intimidation technique ever since. while the government machinery conveniently kept Sanjiv engaged by falsely implicating him in a 20 year old case, which is nothing but a work of fanciful and unsubstantiated presumptions; in a gross travesty of justice, they expeditiously conducted a vitiated trail in a 30 year old fabricated case wherein not only was there not an iota of any evidence, but Sanjiv was not allowed to call in a single defence witness.

In a gross travesty of justice, Sanjiv was falsely implicated and sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime he did not commit; his only crime – he did not buckle under political pressure, that he dared to stand by the truth and fight for justice for the thousands who were victimised by this fascist regime.

There cannot be a more blatant example of vindictive persecution of a totally innocent man who did nothing but perform his duty in an outstanding and exemplary manner during the most difficult phase of the communal rioting. Strong precedents and examples are being made of exemplary men and women who have dared to raise their voice and question this draconian regime.

Sanjiv’s truth, integrity and resolve poses such un-dismissible threat to this fascist regime, that even after holding the most powerful position in the country, no stone is being left unturned to silence the voice of an honest and upright officer once and for all to ensure that truth does not see the light of day.

Even in the face of immense pressure and threat, Sanjiv never backed down or left the battlefield.

Had he wished, he could have sought for a transfer to another state and would have been enjoying his life in the comforts of his home with his us, his family. But instead, at great personal and professional cost, he chose to stay put and continued to fight against the perpetrators of hate and violence and to bring closure and justice to the thousands who had been viciously victimised in the Gujarat Pogrom.

It is 2022 and Mrs Jaffrey’s case is still pending before the supreme court.

It is 2022 and Mrs Jaffrey’s case is still pending before the supreme court.

It is now 3 years, 5 months and 20 days (1269 days) since Sanjiv was wrongfully incarcerated by this regime.

Our pursuit of justice continues…

I hope walking down this memory lane afforded you a glimpse of the tip of a mammoth iceberg of the scarifies Sanjiv made and continues to make, for a cause much bigger than any one individual.

Sanjiv is one of the bravest and strongest man I have ever known, his fight to bring these perpetrators of hate and violence to justice continues, and we his family stand resolute alongside him along with millions of his supporters and well-wishers

We may be bloodied and battered and bruised…. But we remain unbroken, unbent and unbowed.

This piece was first shared by Shweta Sanjiv Bhatt on Facebook.


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