SIT probing charges of fabrication of evidence and conspiracy linked to the 2002 Gujarat riots stated in an affidavit that the political objective of Setalvad ‘while enacting this larger conspiracy was dismissal or destabilisation of the elected government’
New Delhi: The Gujarat Police has opposed activist Teesta Setalvad’s bail application and claimed that she was a part of a “larger conspiracy” carried out at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel to dismiss the BJP government in the state after the 2002 riots.
This was stated in an affidavit filed by the police’s Special Investigation Team before the sessions court. Additional sessions judge D D Thakkar took the SIT’s reply on record and posted the hearing on the bail application on Monday.
Setalvad has been arrested, along with former IPS officers R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame innocent people in Gujarat riots cases. “The political objective of the applicant (Setalvad) while enacting this larger conspiracy was dismissal or destabilisation of the elected government….She obtained illegal financial and other benefits and rewards from rival political party in lieu of her attempts to wrongly implicate innocent persons in Gujarat,” said the SIT’s affidavit, PTI reported.
Citing the statements of a witness, the SIT said the conspiracy was carried out at the behest of late Ahmed Patel. At Patel’s behest, Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after post-Godhra riots in 2002, it alleged. Setalvad used to meet the leaders of a “prominent national party in power at that time in Delhi to implicate names of senior leaders of the BJP government in riot cases,” the SIT further claimed.
Last month, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in Gujarat riots case, state police arrested Setalvad. She, along with Sreekumar and Bhatt, was booked under IPC sections 468 (forgery) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence) among other offences.
Congress denies allegations
The Congress on Saturday said the “mischievous” and “manufactured” allegations by the Gujarat Police against Ahmed Patel were part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “systematic strategy” to absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage in 2002. In a statement, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh said the party “categorically refutes the mischievous charges manufactured” against Ahmed Patel.
“This is part of the Prime Minister’s systematic strategy to absolve himself of any responsibility for the communal carnage unleashed when he was chief minister of Gujarat in 2002,” he said.
“It was his (Modi’s) unwillingness and incapacity to control this carnage that had led the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to remind the chief minister of his ‘raj dharma’.” The prime minister’s “political vendetta machine” clearly does not even spare the departed who were his political adversaries, the Congress general secretary said.
“This SIT is dancing to the tune of its political master and will sit wherever it is told to. We know how an earlier SIT chief was rewarded with a diplomatic assignment after he had given a ‘clean chit’ to the chief minister,” Ramesh said, adding that that giving judgment through the press, in an ongoing judicial process, through “puppet investigative agencies who trumpet wild allegations as supposed findings”, has been the hallmark of the Modi-Shah duo’s tactics for years.
BJP calls Sonia Gandhi ‘driving force’ behind the ‘conspiracy’
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alleged that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was the “driving force” behind the “conspiracy” to implicate then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots case. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra claimed that late Ahmed Patel, who was Gandhi’s political adviser and a leading Congress leader, was just the medium through which she acted to destabilise the BJP government in the state and damage Prime Minister Modi’s political career.
Sonia Gandhi should address a press conference on this, he demanded.
Hitting back, Patra termed the Congress’ statement as mischievous and asked if the Supreme Court had also acted under “pressure” when it had slammed Setalvad and other accused for their “ulterior designs” and called for them to be put in the dock, leading to registration of a case and their arrest by the Gujarat police. “We want Sonia Gandhi to hold a press conference and address the nation as to why she was conspiring against Modi,” he said, claiming that his press conference is not an attack on Patel as he was just a medium through which Gandhi acted.
She hatched a conspiracy to malign Gujarat and corner Modi with an aim to damage him and the BJP to promote her son Rahul Gandhi, Patra claimed.
Citing the SIT affidavit, he claimed that Setalvad was given Rs 30 lakh for personal use by Patel. “Patel only delivered the money. Sonia Gandhi gave it,” he alleged.
Patra noted that Setalvad, who has been pursuing Gujarat riots cases, was given Padma Shri and also made a member of the National Advisory Council when the Congress-led UPA was in power. Sonia Gandhi was behind this as she was happy with her work, he alleged. “Patel is just a name. The driving force behind this conspiracy was Sonia Gandhi,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Patel’s daughter Mumtaz Patel told ANI, “His name still holds weight to be used for political conspiracies to malign Opposition. Why during UPA years, Teesta Setalvad not rewarded and made Rajya Sabha member and why Centre until 2020 didn’t prosecute my father for hatching such a big conspiracy?”
“SIT report mentioned that other leaders were also approached. Why their names not being disclosed? Their campaign for Gujarat poll has begun by dragging Ahmed Patel’s name in conspiracy theories. They did it before poll when he was alive and doing it when he’s no more,” she added.
Assembly elections are scheduled to take place in Gujarat later this year.
(With inputs from agencies)
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