Mumbai: A group of prominent citizens on Monday condemned the arrest of suspended Gujarat Police Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Sanjiv Bhatt, terming it as "a brazen attempt by the Gujarat government to violate the law, intimidate witnesses and influence the course of public justice".
In a statement here, the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) said that Bhatt is a crucial witness in several cases where senior functionaries of the Gujarat government are implicated for conspiracy in mass crimes, destroying evidence and subverting the course of justice.
"However, the notice issued to the Gujarat government by the Ahmedabad Sessions Court Ahmedabad today (Monday) and refusal by the lower court in Ahmedabad to grant 14 days remand for custodial interrogation last Saturday, a breakthrough in ensuring his personal liberty and freedom," CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad said.
The other trustees who have signed the statement include: Alyque Padamsee, I.M. Kadri, Nandan Maluste, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Anand, Arvind Krishnaswamy, Javed Akhtar, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash and Ghulam Pesh Imam.
They said that the "illegal arrest" of Bhatt and attempts to trap him inside the jail by slapping sections of the Indian Penal Code not originally contained in the FIR are nothing short of "a misuse of state power to crush the voice of a police officer who has well-documented evidence against the culpability of key state actors".
CJP made an appeal to all those committed to the rule of law and justice, individuals and organizations to protest "this grossly malafide action" of the Gujarat government.
The CJP urged that the action to arrest Bhatt (Sep 30) was "an attempt to intimidate an important witness in the Zakia Ahsan Jafri (widow of Congress ex-MP killed in the riots) and CJP criminal complaints against Modi and 61 others".
Besides intimidating a key public witness and tampering with evidence, the action is a "cheap attempt to slur his (Bhatt) character and standing," the CJP said.
The CJP said that Bhatt had testified to criminal and unconstitutional instructions allegedly issued by Chief Minister Narendra Modi at a late night meeting on Feb 27, 2002, the day of the Godhra train incident.
Bhatt has also given documentary data to the Supreme Court-appointed SIT about Modi`s abdication of responsibility on Feb 28, 2002 when the attacks on Gulbarga Society and Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad were in full swing.
Last, in his recent affidavit before the Gujarat High Court, Bhatt had mentioned that both Modi and then minister of state for home Amit Shah had pressurized him into not giving facts and evidence in possession of the State Intelligence Bureau pertaining to the killing of former minister Haren Pandya.