Teesta Setalvad conspired to destabilise Gujarat government after 2002 riots, allege police
In an affidavit filed to oppose the activist’s bail plea, the prosecution claimed that the conspiracy was planned at the behest of late Congress MP Ahmed Patel.
Activist Teesta Setalvad was part of a conspiracy to destabilise the state government after the 2002 Gujarat riots, the police have alleged in an affidavit filed on Friday to oppose her bail petition in an Ahmedabad court.
The conspiracy had been planned at the behest of former Congress MP Ahmed Patel, the police claimed.
In the aftermath of the riots, Setalvad had founded the organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace to help riot victims get justice. The organisation assisted the victims in filing cases, arranged funds to pursue the matters in courts and offered protection to witnesses.
Setalvad was arrested on June 26 for allegedly committing forgery and fabricating evidence in a case related to the Gujarat riots. Former Gujarat Director General of Police RB Sreekumar and suspended Indian Police Services officer Sanjiv Bhatt have also been arrested in the case.
A bail plea filed by Setalvad was scheduled to be heard in an Ahmedabad sessions court on Friday. However, the prosecution was late in filing its affidavit challenging the plea. The matter will now be heard on July 18.
In its affidavit, the prosecution has alleged that Setalvad “obtained illegal financial and other benefits and rewards from the rival political party [Congress]” to falsely implicate Gujarat officials, including Narendra Modi, who was then the chief minister
The alleged conspiracy started off after Setalvad met Patel after the Godhra train burning incident in 2002 and received Rs 5 lakh from a witness in the riots case on the instructions of the late Congress leader, the police have alleged.
Fifty-nine persons returning from Ayodhya had died when a coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt in Godhra on February 27, 2002. The next day, a mob went on a rampage in Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Society and set homes on fire. Sixty-nine persons died, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was hacked to death.
On June 24 this year, the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of a “larger conspiracy” levelled by Zakia Jafri, the wife of Ehsan Jafri, against Modi and other senior Gujarat officials. In its judgement, the court read a statement made by the state government that Setalvad, a co-petitioner in the case, exploited the emotions of Zakia Jafri.
Just a day after the Supreme Court judgement, Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt were booked by the Gujarat Police.
The prosecution has also accused that to further her agenda against the Gujarat government, Setalvad “used the guise of collecting money in the name of riot victims” and used a Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence to obtain foreign funding from various international non-government organisations.
The affidavit also mentioned e-mails exchanged between Bhatt, the deputy inspector general of Gujarat at that time and “certain individuals” during April and May 2011. These e-mails showed that Bhatt was in constant touch with Congress leaders of Gujarat, the prosecution has claimed.
The police have also argued that Setalvad should not be granted bail as she could threaten witnesses, destroy evidence and derail the investigation against her.
Manufactured allegation, says Congress
The Congress, meanwhile, described the allegations about Patel as mischievous and manufactured, reported PTI.
“This is part of the Prime Minister’s [Narendra Modi] systematic strategy to absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage unleashed when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002,” Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said, according to PTI.
He added: “It was his [Modi’s] unwillingness and incapacity to control this carnage that had led the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to remind the chief minister of his ‘raj dharma’.”
The Hindi word “raj dharma” was famously used by Vajpayee to ask Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, to act during the 2002 riots in the state.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party claimed that the affidavit by the Gujarat Police has brought the truth out, according to ANI.
“Ahmed Patel is just a name, the driving force was his boss Sonia Gandhi,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged at a media briefing. “Through her Chief Political Advisor Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi attempted to malign Gujarat’s image. Through him, she attempted to insult Narendra Modi and he was architect of this entire conspiracy.”