Monday, December 12, 2011

Sanjiv Bhatt fires a stinker to SIT chief

Ahmedabad: Suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt shot off a letter to special investigation team (SIT) chief R K Raghavan on Saturday urging him to record his testimony before a magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC since he feared “distortion” of his earlier recorded statements on the riots.

Bhatt was reacting to an Indian Express report dated December 9, 2011 “Pandya Murder: Call records belie Bhatt claims, says SIT”, which detailed how SIT probing the 2002 riots had found call records not supporting Bhatt’s claims that he had met former minister Haren Pandya immediately after coming out of the controversial meeting held by CM Narendra Modi on the night of February 27, 2002, hours after the Godhra train attack. Pandya was shot dead in 2003.

Bhatt forwarded a copy of this letter to the Indian Express on Saturday.

Suspecting certain SIT officials of twisting his statement and leaking it to the media, Bhatt said the statements attributed to him in this report were false and misleading and pointed out how an SIT official Y C Modi who was associated with the Haren Pandya murder probe during his stint with the CBI, was also part of the team that recorded his statement in the 2002 riot cases.

Bhatt’s letter to Raghavan said, “It appears from the above referred news item that the officers of the SIT under your stewardship are not only continuing with their sinister design and modus operandi of twisting my statements to suit a particular pre-conceived line of investigation, but are also deliberately leaking false and misleading information to the media from time to time with the intention of creating doubts about my credibility as one of the most important witnesses linking Mr Narendra Modi with the Gujarat carnage of 2002.”

The police officer referred to the judgment of the Gujarat High Court bench of justices D H Waghela and J C Upadhyaya on August 29, which cleared all the accused in Pandya case of murder charges. Bhatt said “certain very sharply critical observations regarding the quality of the investigation conducted by the CBI in the Haren Pandya murder case” were also made by the court.

The letter went on to say, “As you are well aware, one Mr Y C Modi (IPS), who was then posted on deputation with the CBI, was the supervisory officer of the said investigation. The same Mr Y C Modi now happens to be a member of the SIT under your stewardship and was associated with the recording of my statement by the SIT in 2011 in connection with the complaint of Mrs Zakia Nasim Ehsan Jafri. I had brought certain disquieting aspects about the conduct of certain officers of the SIT under your stewardship, including that of the said Mr Y C Modi, Mr A K Malhotra and Mr Himanshu Shukla (IPS), to your notice vide my letter No. SRB/SIT/110322/01 dated March 22, 2011 and letter No. SRB/SIT/110406/01 dated April 06, 2011”.

Bhatt, who recently wrote to the Nanavati-Mehta Commission to either call him for deposition or direct him to file an affidavit on the information that he was privy to as an intelligence officer during the riots, questioned the “leakage” of the information by the SIT and said that it “... re-confirms the apprehensions in my mind about the bona fides, motives and intent of the SIT under your stewardship”.

He added he had already provided relevant documentary evidence and contemporaneous records and detailed call records of various persons including late Haren Pandya to the SIT in November-December 2009. “Needless to elaborate, amongst other things, I am fully aware about the cellphone locations and the probable movements of Pandya on 27/02/2002”, he said.

The SIT had said that the cellphone call records provided by IPS officer Rahul Sharma did not support Bhatt claims about his and Pandya’s locations on that day.

Reiterating an earlier request through a letter of March 18, 2011, to the SIT, Bhatt urged Raghavan to record his statement before a magistrate under Section 164 (1) of the CrPc at the earliest.


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