A Special Investigation Team of the Gujarat Police on Tuesday filed a chargesheet against activist Teesta Setalvad, former state Director General of Police RB Sreekumar and former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a case of alleged forgery and fabrication of evidence, PTI reported.
The police have accused the three persons of fabricating evidence pertaining to the 2002 Gujarat riots to destabilise the state government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at the time.
The 6,300-page charge sheet cites 90 witnesses, investigating officer in the case and Assistant Commissioner of Police (Special Operations Group) BV Solanki, told PTI.
Among the witnessed are Indian Police Service officer-turned-lawyer Rahul Sharma and Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, said Solanki. The statements of other witnesses have been taken from their statements in previous Gujarat riots cases and affidavits submitted by the three accused persons before various courts and commissions, the police officer added.
Setalvad and the two others have been charged under Indian Penal Code provisions pertaining to criminal conspiracy, forgery, fabricating evidence and public servant framing incorrect records, The Indian Express reported.
Former IPS officer Rahul Sharma is among those who have been made witnesses in the case. The former police officer had been questioned by the special investigation team in the case in August, according to Ahmedabad Mirror.
Setalvad was released from an Ahmedabad jail on September 3 after she spent over two months in custody. Sreekumar has filed a bail petition before the Gujarat High Court, which is slated to hear the matter on September 28.
Bhatt is lodged in a jail in the Palanpur city as he has been convicted in a custodial death case that dates back to 1990.
The police had arrested Setalvad and Sreekumar on June 26, two days after the Supreme Court had dismissed allegations of a “larger conspiracy” levelled by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior Gujarat officials in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
The Supreme Court judgment had also read a statement by the Gujarat government in its statement where Setalvad was accused of exploiting Zakia Jafri’s emotions.
In an affidavit filed on July 15, Gujarat Police had claimed that Setalvad took part in a conspiracy to destabilise the state government after the 2002 riots. The police had claimed that the conspiracy had been planned at the behest of former Congress MP Ahmed Patel, who died in 2020.
The Gujarat Police alleged that Setalvad “used the guise of collecting money in the name of riot victims” and used a Foreign Contribution Regulation Act licence to obtain funding from various international non-government organisations, to push forward her agenda against the Gujarat government.
The activist is the founder of Citizens for Justice and Peace organisation that helps riot victims get justice.