A Special Investigation Team of the Gujarat Police has arrested former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt through transfer warrant in a case of conspiring to falsely implicate innocent persons in connection with the 2002 communal riots, an official said.
Bhatt is the third accused arrested in the case after social activist Teesta Setalvad and former Director General of Police of Gujarat R B Sreekumar. He has been lodged in Palanpur jail in Banaskantha district since 2018 in a 27-year-old case in which he is accused of planting narcotics to frame a Rajasthan-based lawyer. During that trial, he was also convicted to life in a custodial death case in Jamnagar.
“We took Sanjiv Bhatt’s custody from Palanpur jail on transfer warrant and formally arrested him on Tuesday evening,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad Crime Branch, Chaitanya Mandlik said later in the day.
Mandlik is one of the members of the SIT formed by the state government last month to probe the roles of Bhatt, Sreekumar and Setalvad in various cases related to the post-Godhra riots of 2002.
Setalvad and Sreekumar were arrested by the crime branch last month and they are currently behind bars. The two were arrested after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given by a Special Investigation Team to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots cases.
An FIR against the trio was registered with the crime branch under sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (forgery), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction of capital offence), 211 (institute criminal proceedings to cause injury), and 120 [B] (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The trio is accused of abusing the process of law by conspiring to fabricate evidence in an attempt to frame innocent people for an offence punishable with capital punishment.