Ex-Indian policeman, who filed affidavit against Modi in Gujrat riots, handed life sentence


Former Indian police officer Sanjiv Bhatt on Thursday sentenced for life by Gujarat court in 1990 custodial death case.

A session judge in Jamnagar, D. N. Vyas, convicted and sentenced Bhatt, but the quantum of sentence for six other policemen, who were also convicted, is yet to be pronounced, Hindustan Times reported.

The case dates back to 1990 when Bhatt was posted as the additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar district of Gujarat. He detained around 150 people during a riot in Jam Jodhpur town. One of those arrested, Prabhudas Vaishnani, died in a hospital after his release.

Vaishnani’s brother later lodged an FIR against Bhatt and six other police officials, accusing them of killing Vaishnan by torturing him in detention.

The policemen had opposed criminal proceedings against them on the ground that they were doing their official duty and the deceased was not subjected to custodial torture as alleged.

Bhatt had maintained that the case is politically motivated.

Affidavit against Modi in 2002 Gujrat riots

On 14 April 2011, 9 years after the Gujrat riots which erupted after the Godhra train burning, in which over 50 Hindu pilgrims died, Bhatt filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court of India, stating, at a meeting on 27 February 2002, Modi asked top police officials to let Hindus “vent out their anger” against the Muslims. He further alleged that the meeting determined to bring the bodies of the Hindu pilgrims to Ahmedabad prior to cremation and that he had cautioned against this, fearing religious violence.

According to Bhatt, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Hindu nationalist Bajrang Dal were stirring tensions in the city.

A similar confession was made by then Gujarat home minister, Haren Pandya, who told a tribunal that Modi had organized a meeting at the Chief Minister’s residence on 27 February 2002.

According to Pandya, in this meeting, Modi had asked the police officials not to come in the way of “the Hindu backlash”. Pandya had named a number of police officials who attended this meeting; Bhatt was not among these. Pandya was later assassinated by unidentified men.