Sanjiv Bhatt is manipulator: SIT

Supreme Court-appointed SIT, probing the 2002 Gujarat riots, on Wednesday claimed suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was a "manipulator".

Updated: May 01, 2013, 23:33 PM IST

Ahmedabad: Supreme Court-appointed SIT, probing the 2002 Gujarat riots, on Wednesday claimed suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt was not a "witness" in the complaint against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, but a "manipulator".

"Sanjiv Bhatt was never a witness to any meeting held by Chief Minister, but he is fabricating everything...(he) is manipulating and has conspired to play media card in building pressure groups to influence not only amicus curae (in Zakia Jafri`s petition) Raju Ramchandran, but even the Supreme Court," SIT lawyer R S Jamuar said.

Jamuar was arguing before Metropolitan Magistrate B J Ganatra, who is hearing a protest petition by Jafri challenging the closure report of SIT giving clean chit to Modi and others with respect to the riots.

Today, on the sixth day of his arguments, Jamuar submitted evidence to back up the Special Investigation Team`s contention in the closure report that Bhatt was not a reliable witness.

Coming down heavily on Bhatt, Jamuar cited contents of some of the emails collected by the state government during the investigation of a criminal complaint against Bhatt.

These emails included the ones allegedly sent by Bhatt to Nasir Chhipa, journalist Subhranshu, activist Teesta Setalvad, the then Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly and Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil and IPS officer Rahul Sharma (who had collected details of phone calls made during the 2002 riots).

"Sanjiv Bhatt, on whom complainant (Jafri) has placed much reliance and who had started making controversial claims after gap of nine years after the riots, has tried to manipulate even media and conspired to build pressure on even the Supreme Court judges who were hearing SLP filed by Zakia Jafri," the SIT lawyer said.

Referring to the observations of senior advocate Raju
Ramchandran, appointed by the apex court as an amicus curae, Jamuar said, "Even Raju Ramchandran has observed that Bhatt is actively strategising and his conduct is not of a detached police officer."

Ramchandran, in his final report dated July 25, 2011, had said, "I am conscious of the fact that though Shri Bhatt has been contending that he would speak only when under a legal obligation to do so, his conduct after making his statement under Section 161 of CrPC has not been that of a detached police officer who is content with giving his version."

"I am left with no doubt that he is actively `strategising`, and is in touch with those who would benefit or gain mileage from his testimony."

However, Jamuar did not quote Ramchandran further. The senior lawyer had also said that "but these factors, in my view, cannot be grounds for ignoring his (Sanjiv Bhatt`s) statement at this stage".

Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court claiming that he was present at the meeting held by Modi on the night of Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, where Modi allegedly instructed top police officials not to take action against rioters.

Zakia Jafri, the widow of Congress MP Ehsan Jafri (who was killed during the riots), has sought filing of a chargesheet against Modi and 58 others (named in her complaint before the Supreme Court) in her present protest petition.

She has also sought further investigation by an independent agency other than SIT.

The hearing on her petition will continue tomorrow.