Civil groups hit streets demanding release of Bhatt

By TCN Special Correspondent,

New Delhi: Agitated by the arrest of Gujarat IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, a large number of Civil Society organizations, activists, students, academicians and representatives of political parties staged protest dharnas in different parts of the country on Monday. On a call by Anhad, All India Secular Forum and various other groups, according to Shabnam Hashmi of Anhad, protests were organised in over 40 cities across the country.

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In Delhi, a protest demonstration was staged at Gujarat Bhawan in Chanakyapuri, demanding immediate release of Sanjeev Bhatt. The protesters termed the arrest arbitrary, unconstitutional and a case of intimidation of whistle-blowers. The activists also submitted a memorandum to the Resident Commissioner at the Gujarat Bhawan seeking immediate and unconditional release of Bhatt.

Shabnam Hashmi

Addressing the protest meeting outside Gujarat Bhawan, Filmmaker and Activist, Mahesh Bhatt said, “Sanjeev Bhatt’s fault is that he dared to reveal the truth behind the 2002 carnage as also the murder of Haren Pandya.” Referring to his conversation with Sanjeev Bhatt, he said, “I spoke to Sanjeev the evening he was arrested, asking that since the worst had happened, what he needed to tell the world outside. He said it was now for the courts to ensure that the rule of law was imposed in Gujarat and the nation.” Mahesh Bhatt also appealed, “We as civil society should come together and fight this trend of communal and fascist mentality.”

Mahesh Bhatt

R B Shreekumar, a retired DIG of Gujarat and colleague of Sanjeev Bhatt alleged, “The arrest of Sanjeev Bhatt is the peak of the policy followed by the Modi government since the conception, organisation, mobilisation and perpetration of an anti-Muslim carnage in 2002. Of all the actions, this is the most atrocious.” Shreekumar, who himself a victim of Modi further said, “After the 2002 carnage, the Modi government started terrorising the bureaucracy, including the senior police officers who dared to speak the truth.” “If electoral victory is the license for violating the Constitution, the rule of law then our freedom and democracy is under serious threat,” he added.

Activists Shabnam Hashmi, Himanshu Kumar, Mahtab Alam, Gauhar Raza, Sandeep Kumar, Faisal Khan, Maulana Ejaz Urfi, Madhuresh Kumar, Vani and others also spoke on the occasion.

Earlier a similar protest was staged at Jantar Mantar by Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Jan Shakti Party. “We want immediate release of Sanjeev Bhatt,” said Amanatullah Khan, a party functionary. “Our party will launch a nation-wide campaign if Mr. Bhatt is not released,” he warned.

The civil groups presented Resident Commissioner of Gujarat Bhawan with a joint memorandum for Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal:

Text of the Memorandum


Dr. Kamla Beniwal,

Her Excellency the Governor of Gujarat

Through the Resident Commissioner

Gujarat Bhawan, New Delhi-21

Dear Madam,

It is with immense grief and anger that we write to you today seeking your urgent intervention in the case of arbitrary and unconstitutional arrest of Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt, IPS, an important witness in the Zakia Ahsan Jafri and CJP criminal complaint against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others.

As you also know, Mr. Bhatt, trough his affidavit before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in April 2011 he had testified to criminal and un-Constitutional instructions being issued by Modi at a late night meeting of 27.2.2002 the day of the Godhra incident. In his statements before the SC-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) he also gave documentary data about Modi’s abdication of responsibility on 28.2.2002 the day attacks on Gulberg Society and Naroda Patia in Ahmedabad were in full swing. Finally, and last but not the least in an affidavit filed before the High Court recently Shri Bhatt had even mentioned that both Modi and Amit Shah, then MoS Home had tried to intimidate and pressurize him into not giving facts and evidence in the possession of the State Intelligence Bureau related to the assassination of former MoS Revenue Shri Haren Pandya. The CBI investigation into the Pandya assassination has been recently severely criticized by the Guujarat High Court.

Most critically, Mr. Bhatt had challenged this FIR for which he was arrested through Writ Petition 135/2011 in the Supreme Court, and matter is before the court. The SC had issued notice to the Gujarat government on 29.7.2011 in this regard.

Given the circumstances, the arrest of Mr. Bhatt and its timing raises several questions about the intentions of the state government. Hence, it is clear case of intimidation. We believe this is a pathetic subversion of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

Like Shewta Sanjeev Bhatt, wife of Mr. Bhatt we have a very strong apprehension that he would be manhandled badly and his life is under threat. We, therefore demand immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt.

Hope you will take personal interest in the matter and ensure justice while using your mandate.

Thanking you,

Yours Sincerely,

1. Mahesh Bhatt, Film Maker and Activist, Mumbai

2. R B Shreekumar, retired DIG, Gujarat

3. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD

4. Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights’ Activist, Delhi

5. Madhuresh Kumar, National Allience of Peoples’ Movement (NAPM)

6. Himanshu Kumar, Vanvasi Chetna Ashram

7. Sandeep Kumar, All India Students’ Association

8. Maulana Ejaz Urfi, Tanzeem Ulmae Haq and many others.

9. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA)

Date: 03rd October 2011