Justice Markandey Katju –
‘J’accuse’ (or, I accuse) was the name of the letter (https://www.britannica.com/
J’accuse is the name of this post too, and it is directed against all those involved in hounding and victimizing the brave upright police officer Sanjiv Bhatt who is still incarcerated.
Sanjiv Bhatt was an Indian Police Service officer of the 1988 batch, and his batch mates are inspector generals of police. He gave an affidavit in the Supreme Court that in a meeting held on February 27, 2002 in Ahmedabad, which he attended, the then chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi told police officials to let Hindus vent their anger against Muslims, thus leading to the massacre of Muslims the same year. This affidavit has led to Bhatt’s hounding ever since.
However, the recent statement of retired Lt Gen Zameeruddin Shah that his soldiers were kept at Ahmedabad airport and were not allowed to enter the city to stop the massacre goes to corroborate Bhatt’s argument.
The Supreme Court appointed a SIT to investigate the Gujarat incidents of 2002, but its head, R K Raghavan hardly spent any time in Gujarat and yet concluded that Bhatt was not present in the meeting. However, the amicus curiae appointed by the court, Raju Ramchandran, a senior advocate, gave a contrary finding.
Bhatt’s allegation about inaction by the Gujarat police in stopping the massacre was corroborated by K S Subramaniam, member of the fact-finding team headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Krishna Iyer.
Bhatt was dismissed from service on the absurd charge of absence without leave though he had only left to depose before the Nanavati Commission, which had summoned him and which was officially inquiring into the violence in Gujarat at the time.
Bhatt was accused of a charge of an alleged incident 22 years before (of fabricating evidence by planting drugs) and was arrested on September 5, 2018, and since then has been in jail. His bail application before the district court was kept pending for three months, and was then dismissed.
On December 12, 2018 he made a bail application before the Gujarat High Court. It was listed to be seen by Justice Kokje on December 19, but the judge ordered, ‘Not before me.’ It was then listed on December 21 before Justice SH Vora who issued notice. Then it was listed on January 8, 2019, then on January 10 and finally January 11 before Justice Sonia Gokani, who has listed for January 15. Bhat has thus already spent four-and-a-half months in jail.
His wife Shweta contacted me, and I told her not to worry. Satyamev Jayate (Truth will prevail). Her husband is a brave upright officer, and will come out of this ordeal with flying colors and his honor restored, like Capt Dreyfus.
Shame on those who hounded him and those of his colleagues who did not support him.
[Justice Markandey Katju is former Judge, Supreme Court of India and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own]