Teesta Setalvad Remanded To Police Custody Until July 1; Gujarat Govt Forms SIT

| Updated: June 26, 2022 8:14 pm

Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad has been remanded to police custody until July 1, even as the Gujarat Government on Sunday constituted a four-member Special Investigation Team, including ATS DIG Deepan Bhadran, to inquire into charges against her and two former IPS officials.   

The State police had sought a remand for 14 days stating that Setalvad was not cooperating in the investigation, but a local metropolitan court granted her custody for five days until July 1.

Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar were arrested on Saturday by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Mumbai following an FIR against them at the Ahmedabad city crime branch. Sanjiv Bhatt, another IPS official, is already serving a jail sentence for a 1989 custodial death case.  

Setalvad’s NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace had supported Zakia Jafri in her long-drawn-out legal battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister during the 2002 riots, and the State Police. Zakia is the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the attack on Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad, which claimed 68 lives in 2002.

In her petitions before various courts and the Supreme Court, Zakia Jafri had alleged complicity of the then Gujarat Government and her case in the Supreme Court was against the clean chit given to Modi by an SIT, which was constituted on the apex court’s directives to look into nine major violent episodes in 2002 riots. Jafri and co-petitioner Teesta Setalvad’s petition also wanted that an FIR should be filed against Modi and some others.

The present FIR follows Friday’s Supreme Court judgment upholding the SIT’s closure report giving a clean chit to the former chief minister, with the observations that she, former IPS officials RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, undergoing a jail sentence in another case, should be acted against for fabricating false evidence and using it as genuine as also pursuing the case for 16 long years.    

Earlier in the day, DCP Chaitanya Mandlik told reporters, “The accused are not supporting us in the investigation. We are demanding 14 days of custody. We are getting the documents arranged from various sources.”

Sources close to the development told this reporter that the immediate focus of her advocates is to get her bailed out before deciding on a future course of action. According to the law, they have the option to file a review petition before the same three-judge bench of the Supreme Court and if it fails they could go for a curative petition before a larger five-judge bench if the Chief Justice of India approves it.

Besides being a co-petitioner with Zakia Jafri, Teesta Setalvad had fought several post-Godhra riot cases on behalf of the victims and as Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), RB Sreekumar had submitted several affidavits before a Commission of Inquiry that Modi’s post-riot speeches incited communal riots and were incendiary.

Sanjiv Bhatt, who is undergoing a jail sentence in an alleged custodial death case of 1989, had submitted an affidavit alleging that the chief minister had addressed a confidential meeting with top police officials and reportedly asked them to let the people vent their anger over the Godhra train burning that claimed 58 lives, most of them kar sevaks returning from Ayodhya.

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