SIT chargesheet against Teesta Setalvad: Activist Teesta Setalvad conspired to create false cases against then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues and senior BJP leaders in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots, a charge sheet filed by an SIT in a court here on Wednesday claimed.
The SIT of Ahmedabad police filed the charge sheet against Setalvad, retired Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt in a case of alleged fabrication of evidence in connection with the 2002 riots.
It also accused Setalvad of working with Congress leaders to spread "misunderstanding" among riot victims that Gujarat was not safe for them.
The Ahmedabad crime branch had registered the case against Setalvad and the other two days after the Supreme Court in June upheld the clean chit given to Modi and 63 others in response to a petition filed by Zakia Jafri alleging larger conspiracy behind the 2002 violence.
Investigating Officer and Assistant Commissioner of Police, Special Operations Group B V Solanki told PTI that the charge sheet was filed in the court of additional chief metropolitan magistrate M V Chauhan.
The 6,300-page charge sheet cites 90 witnesses. Among them are Indian Police Service officer-turned-lawyer Rahul Sharma and Congress's Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil, said Solanki.
A K Malhotra, a member of the Special Investigation Team appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the riots cases who had questioned Modi, is also among the witnesses.
Among the documentary evidence in the charge sheet are a copy of the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri in June 2006 in which she had accused 63 persons including Modi of wilful dereliction of duty in preventing the riots.
Jafri's protest petition in the Gujarat High Court, her statement as a witness, copies of nine affidavits filed by Sreekumar before the SC-appointed SIT, copies of fax and emails sent by Bhatt are also among documentary evidence.
The three accused have been charged under sections 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence), 211 (to institute criminal proceeding against a person or falsely charge him with committing an offence while knowing there is no just ground for such proceeding), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record or writing with intent to save person from punishment) and 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The trial in the case will be held before a sessions court. Setalvad, arrested on June 26, was released on interim bail following a September 2 order of the Supreme Court.
Sreekumar, also arrested on June 26, remains lodged in jail. The third accused, Bhatt is serving life sentence in Palanpur jail in a custodial death case. In the charge sheet, the SIT accused them of instituting false and malicious criminal proceedings against innocent people including Modi and other leaders of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The three accused met Congress leader late Ahmed Patel, it said, alleging that they conspired to create fabricated evidence against Modi and BJP leaders.
"Accused number one (Setalvad) tried to create false cases against then chief minister (Modi), ministers and senior BJP leaders and conspired to fabricate evidence against them in these cases to establish their involvement in the February 28, 2002 and other riots cases in which a large number of people were killed and in which the punishment is death sentence," it said.
Setalvad also received Rs 30 lakh at Ahmed Patel's behest in 2002, the charge sheet said, adding that as secretary of the NGO `Citizens for Justice and Peace' she worked with leaders of Congress party to spread misunderstanding among people in relief camps that Gujarat was unsafe and they will not get justice in the state.
Setalvad fabricated affidavits besides working to defame the Gujarat government by seeking the transfer of riot cases to other states, it claimed.
Her intention was to cause mental agony and hurt the reputation of people including the then CM, members of BJP and others, it said.
Sreekumar submitted fabricated affidavits before the Justice Nanavati and Mehta Commission of Inquiry formed to look into the 2002 riots cases and also threatened a witness, it said.
Bhatt falsely claimed to be present at the meeting at the chief minister's bungalow on February 28, 2002, and submitted a fabricated affidavit before the commission and the Supreme Court, it claimed.
The Ahmedabad crime branch filed the FIR against Setalvad and the other two in June this year, days after the the Supreme Court dismissed Zakia Jafri's plea and said there was no "title of material" to support the allegation that violence after the Godhra incident was a "pre-planned event" owing to the conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the state.
The SC bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar had also spoken of “the devious stratagem to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design” and said all those involved in “such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.
Zakia Jafri's husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society during violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident that claimed 59 lives.
Setalvad had helped Zakia Jafri extensively in her legal battle. In the riots following the Godhra incident, 1,044 people, majority of them Muslims, were killed.