Activist Teesta Setalvad at Santacruz police station in Mumbai on Saturday. (Image: PTI)
Activist Teesta Setalvad and former senior IPS officer RB Sreekumar were arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence, committing forgery and criminal conspiracy
In a swift crackdown a day after the Supreme Court dismissed all allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi of a larger conspiracy in the 2002 Gujarat riots, activist Teesta Setalvad and former senior IPS officer RB Sreekumar were arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence, committing forgery and criminal conspiracy.
The top court said on the basis of false claims, the structure of a larger criminal conspiracy at the highest level was erected. “The same stands collapsed like a house of cards… as a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law,” the SC said in its detailed order on Friday.
It added: “We find force in the argument of the respondent-state that the testimony of Sanjiv Bhatt, Haren Pandya and also of RB Sreekumar was only to sensationalise and politicise the matters in issue, although replete with falsehood.”
Government sources cited the same to justify the FIR filed in Gujarat on Saturday against Seetalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt (who is already behind bars). Earlier in the day, union home minister Amit Shah in an interview with ANI named Setalvad and her NGO for furnishing false claims before the special investigation team (SIT) and the SC.
According to the FIR, Bhatt, Setalvad and Sreekumar had conspired to abuse the process of law by fabricating false evidence and instituted false and malicious criminal proceedings against innocent people. The FIR also states that Setalvad and the others had conspired and prepared false records to implicate innocents.
“The FIR may be kindly registered not only in the context of the above material and other materials, judgement of the Supreme Court and also on independent grounds, for finding out the behind the scene conspiracy and financial and other benefits, inducements for commission of serious offences in collusion with other individuals, entities and organisations,” the FIR states.
The solicitor general in the SC has submitted that the SIT, in fact, should have taken steps to prosecute Setalvad for “damning the elected representatives, bureaucracy and police administration of the whole state of Gujarat for ulterior motives”, the SC judgment noted.
The SG also told the apex court that the allegation regarding a larger conspiracy behind the riots was pursued by Setalvad “only out of vengeance so as to defame the entire state of Gujarat”, the judgment states.
The SC judgment also noted the submission of the state that Setalvad, for reasons best known to her, was interested in continuing with her tirade and persecution on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations in the complaint (of Zakka Ahsan Jafri) in the name of quest for justice with real purpose to keep the pot boiling and sensationalise and politicise the crime.