This was published today in the Pioneer. Comments and criticism welcome as always.
Modi-baiters stand unmasked
August 25, 2011
A sizeable section of the English media has been suspiciously enthusiastic about touting allegations as proof as far as the 2002 Gujarat violence is concerned. Recent revelations about those agitating against Narendra Modi and his Government have exposed them for what they are: Liars and myth-mongers. IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt is one such ‘crusader’ who should be shamed and shunned by all
Intellectuals, academics, a sizeable section of the English media and other self-appointed guardians of communal harmony consider allegation as proof as far as the Gujarat 2002 violence — or more accurately, Mr Narendra Modi — is concerned. It’s only recently that damaging revelations regarding the motivations and credibility of some of these worthies have come to light — one of the vociferous detractors of Mr Modi, Prof Angana Chatterji, happens to be on the ISI agent Ghulam Fai’s guest list. Even a cursory examination of the timeline of the 2002 riots investigation will show us that it’s not justice that they want for the riot victims but the scalp of the Gujarat Chief Minister.
The riot-investigation timeline is populated mostly by wild allegations and involves actors drawn from various backgrounds united by a common motive to ensure Mr Modi’s fall from Chief Ministership. However, over time, their allegations have slowly been coming apart. Teesta Setalvad, who at one point attained celebrity status for her efforts to pursue the riots cases now finds herself facing the ire of courts. One of the revelations from her former aide and confidant Rais Khan include the following statement: “Sadik Hussain R Sheikh, (a) notary, who is on the pay roll of Teesta Setalvad… used to blindly notarise affidavits of witnesses sent by Teesta Setalvad. Sadik has also notarised the affidavits of Sanjiv Bhatt, IPS, on April 14, 2011.”
This is the same Sanjiv Bhatt whom the media and self-proclaimed secularists catapulted to instant stardom sometime in April this year because he claimed in an affidavit to the Supreme Court that he was present at a meeting where Mr Modi had, in the presence of seven senior bureaucrats, said that Hindus should be allowed to vent their ‘anger’ against Muslims after 59 kar sevaks were roasted alive in the Sabarmati Express coach.
Sanjiv Bhatt, a Gujarat Cadre IPS officer of the 1988 batch was suspended by the Gujarat Government last week after an inquiry report found that he was guilty of “continuous disobedience,” which constitutes a “serious misconduct and under AIS Conduct & Discipline Rules attracts a major penalty,” and is “unbecoming of a senior member of the IPS”. Instant outrage ensued from the usual quarters in the media and elsewhere over Sanjiv Bhatt’s suspension terming it as an act of vendetta by the Gujarat Government. Sanjiv Bhatt has since claimed to contest the suspension.
So does this saga boil down to one where an upright policeman is punished by the might of the State because he spoke the truth? Here’s a brief career graph of Sanjiv Bhatt.
- Some years ago, Sanjiv Bhatt was indicted by the National Human Rights Commission for planting drugs in a hotel room to implicate, arrest, and wrongfully detain an advocate of Rajasthan. He was then indicted by a lower court and the indictment was subsequently upheld by the Gujarat High Court.
- In 1996, he was named as an accused in the Gujarat Police recruitment scam for which he was chargesheeted on December 12, 2010. Sanjiv Bhatt was chairman of the recruitment committee. The chargesheet details the nature of specific commissions and omissions done by Sanjiv Bhatt in his capacity as chairman. A notable omission is the fact that he flouted the orders of the DGP regarding certain specific recruitment procedures.
- Sanjiv Bhatt repeated the same defiance — of flouting his superior’s order — when he was posted as Principal, SRP Training Centre, Chawki, Sorath, Junagadh since September 1, 2010. Despite his leave application being rejected by the Gujarat DGP, he went on unauthorised absence starting February 12, 2011 till date. He ignored several reminders to report to duty.
- When he was posted to the Gram Rakshak Dal (from where he was transferred on October 30, 2010), he appropriated official gadgetry like laptops, projector, video cameras, and a mobile phone and returned them only after the Government ordered a preliminary inquiry against him. Sanjiv Bhatt ignored all the notices that ordered him to be present at the inquiry.
What’s most notable in Sanjiv Bhatt’s unflattering career record is the fact that his long list of professional misconduct happened years before he filed his affidavit.
This begs another important question: Why did Sanjiv Bhatt wait for nine years to state that he was part of that meeting? Why didn’t he depose before say, the Nanavati Commission or the Banerjee Commission?
The Supreme Court-appointed SIT rejected his testimony on the grounds that it was unreliable. Nobody among the seven bureaucrats present at said meeting with Mr Modi ever recalled Sanjiv Bhatt’s presence.
Not content with this, Sanjiv Bhatt on July 26, 2011 filed another affidavit, which makes even wilder allegations against a host of people including his (former) friend, the Additional Advocate General Tushar Mehta, RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy, and Mr N Ram of The Hindu. Both Mr Gurumurthy and Mr Ram have denied these allegations.
According to Sanjiv Bhatt, Mr Mehta had colluded with various bureaucrats to help the riots-accused escape punishment. Sanjiv Bhatt’s claim that he “chanced upon” some “unusual emails” in Mr Mehta’s personal email account — whose password Mr Mehta had given him — is incredible. Even assuming he had been given the password, how does one “chance upon” an email without opening and reading it at some length? On his part, Mr Mehta denies that he had ever shared his email password with Sanjiv Bhatt. Sanjiv Bhatt’s other allegation is that his emails have been hacked by “agents” of the Gujarat administration.
Among others, Sanjiv Bhatt has had email exchanges with Teesta Setalvad, Shabnam Hashmi, Cedric Prakash and Leader of the Opposition in Gujarat, Shakti Singh Gohil. An email with Mr Gohil talks about how he (Sanjiv Bhatt) is “eagerly awaiting both the packages” and “the Blackberry”.
This is pretty much the complete picture, so far, of a tainted cop who has leveled serious allegations against everybody who have ventured to present the other side of the Gujarat riots saga. It is unthinkable that Sanjiv Bhatt is acting without powerful political support. Union Minister for Home Affairs P Chidambaram’s ill-advised remark about the Center willing to intervene in Gujarat’s affairs can be interpreted as an expression of support for Sanjiv Bhatt. His statement is akin to a chilling foretaste of a horribly damaged federalism envisaged by the dangerous Communal Violence Bill sought to be pushed through.
Equally, sections of the media need to stop projecting Sanjiv Bhatt as a courageous cop who was victimised given that it has failed to inform the complete picture about Sanjiv Bhatt to the public. Fairness, restraint and balance aren’t really very hard to achieve if the media puts its mind to it.