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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Custodial death case and Sanjiv Bhatt: Lesser known facts

By Sayema Sahar,
Nisar mai teri galiyon pe aye watan
Ke jahan chali hai rasam ke koi na sar utha ke chale…..

I am talking about the so called best administered state of our country at least such are the claims!
I am talking about the “Vibrant Gujarat”. A Gujarat which under its capable ruler is boasting of good governance, foreign capital inflows, shining skyscrapers, road connectivity, etc etc…
All these do matter but are of little or no meaning when the system is designed to manipulate justice.
I am talking about the intolerant ruler of the state, Narendra Modi who uses law to his advantage to prosecute anybody who dares to go against his ideologies however incorrect, however sinful!
It’s a sorry state to see our capable police officers, getting victimized, cases with little or no merit being slapped against them, charge sheet, FIRs or even a term in the jail is what they get for not adhering to the rule book of their political masters Gujarat boasts of such officers, who are right in their own stand but failed miserably to satisfy the
political ambitions of their chief.
From R.B. Sreekumar to Kuldeep Sharma to Rajnish Rai to Satish Verma to Rahul Sharma to Sanjiv Bhatt, all are victims of the wrath of their angry, vituperative, aggressive and overly macho chief Mr. Modi.
Sanjiv Bhatt apparently tops the hit list of Mr. Modi, as he refuses to bend upon his stand of speaking the truth, the truth of Gujarat genocide. Despite all the pressure tactics applied on him by the state, this upright officer refuses to budge from his stand, an officer who has the guts to call the chief minister of the state he is serving in, a common criminal for his involvement in the 2002 pogrom.
Sanjiv Bhatt is currently under suspension, has served a term in the jail on an allegedly concocted FIR filed by a constable who was assisting him in the Intelligence Bureau during the Gujarat riots of 2002 and is setup by the Gestapo State to face prosecution in a case which is 21years old. A case on which the state itself has changed its stand number of times.
The much talked about custodial death case against Sanjiv Bhatt dates back to the communal riots of 1990 followed by the arrest of Advani by Lalu Yadav in Bihar and a simultaneous attack on Babri Masjid.
The riots broke out in most part of the country, Gujarat too was under the rage of the rioters. The communal stir intensified followed by a Bharat Bandh call by the BJP and VHP.
The riots intensified in Jamnagar, Jamjhodpur, like most parts of the country. The young ASP of Jamjhodpur, Sanjiv Bhatt was sent by the state Police Control Room to control the riots and the rioters. Sanjiv Bhatt, a young dynamic officer with his small but a very determined force went ahead to control the BJP/ VHP activists who had torched a mosque and 12 Muslim houses.
Curfew was enforced and 133 VHP activists were arrested, 33 of the rioters got injured in the lathicharge by police and were sent for medical treatment by the police.
It’s hard to think that this discharge of duty that resulted in arrests and some injuries to contain a volatile situation would become the fodder for a reactive witch hunt campaign by a government trying to clean its tracks by creating a case of custodial death of one Prabhudas Vaishnani who was amongst those who were sent to judicial custodial following the police actions to contain the rioters.
The list of injured did not have any Prabhudas Vaishnani. The following day all the arrested activists were produced before the judicial magistrate, and subsequently sent to the judicial custody including Prabhudas Vaishnani. He did not complain of any torture/ atrocity of police before the magistrate and was sent to the judicial custody in perfect health with no injury external or internal as examined by the jail doctors.
Prabhudas Vaishnani stayed in the jail for 3 days and then on the fourth day he complained of severe back pain and pain in his legs, after which he was sent to the government hospital, he was treated as an outpatient and was sent back. He was released from the jail after 7 days.
3 or 4 days after his stay at home he again complained of back pain and had problems in urination. The doctors of Jamjodhpur referred him to Rajkot where he was diagnosed for an irregular functioning of his kidney and was put on dialysis.
He succumbed to his ailment on the fourth or fifth day of his treatment the body was handed over to his elder brother without any postmortem.
The cause of the death assigned was Rhabdomyolysis. Prabhudas’s brother on his way back with the body of the deceased was intercepted by the BJP/ VHP activists who in turn were convinced to get the post-mortem of the deceased and simultaneously file a FIR against the police officers involved.
The matter was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) which submitted a closure report saying there was nothing against Bhatt and other police officers. The post-mortem report also did not say anything against the police officers.
The investigating agency sought an expert opinion on Rhabdomyolysis by Dr. Trivedi, to ascertain if it was a case of Rhabdomyolysis. Custodial torture could still stand true to some extent but Dr. Trivedi ruled it out saying there was no evidenceof it.
Hence it was proved that the death of Prabhudas Vaishanani was not because of custodial torture.
A magisterial court, however, refused to accept the closure report in the case and the government filed a revision application in the sessions court requesting that the charges be dropped against Bhatt and other police officials.
The CID then wrote to the state government, seeking permission to prosecute the police officials involved. The Government however, refused sanction for IPS officer Bhatt’s prosecution, saying that the police was acting in discharge of their duty, so they are required to be protected against any such prosecution, and filed an application for closure of the case.
There exists a government resolution too, to this effect which states “that the police officers are required to be protected by way of filing a criminal revision application by the state.”
There was however a parallel development in the case, where the state government was playing hide and seek with Sanjiv Bhatt.
In the year 2003 when Sanjiv Bhatt was superintendent of the Sabarmati Jail…the main accused of Haren Pandya murder case, Asghar Ali, was in his custody. Asghar Ali confessed before the jail authority that “Haren Pandya was killed by Tulsi Prajapati and not me.”
Sanjiv Bhatt immediately wrote to the Home ministry about this confession, the result was his transfer out of the Sabarmati Jail.
This incident dates back to November 2003, and in the year 2004 the state government wrote for withdrawal of revision petition, filed for not prosecuting the police officers who were acting on behalf of the state and were discharging their bonafide duties.
However in 2005, the government changed its stand again and let the petition continue.
On the 27th September 2011, Sanjiv Bhatt filed an affidavit in the Haren Pandya murder case, following the affidavit, Modi's team resurrected the 21-year-old custodial death case, changing its stand once again, this time to let the officer face the prosecution.
Sanjiv Bhatt like many of his colleagues has refused to toe government line hence paying a price for it.
Sanjiv Bhatt, however, says that all these moves are desperate attempts of a desperate government, and their desperateness is giving strength to his resolve to continue his fight against the atrocities of the arrogant ruler and his cohorts.
“ yun hi humesha ulajhti rahi hai zulm se khalq
Na un ki rasm nai hai, na apni reet nai”

(The writer is a Delhi-based journalist, can be contacted on sayemasahar@rediffmail.com)

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