Ahmedabad, Oct 6 (ANI): Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad has accused the Gujarat Government of victimising and intimidating witnesses and whistleblowers in the 2002 communal riots case.
Setalvad's comments came days after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government of Gujarat arrested whistleblower police officer Sanjeev Bhatt on a count of filing an incorrect affidavit based on a complaint filed by constable K.D. Panth in June.
Lashing out at Modi's government, Setalvad said Bhatt's arrest was a 'warning' to other witnesses who could implicate the chief minister in the devastating 2002 anti-minority pogrom in which thousands were killed by orchestrated mobs.
"This is nothing short of an attempt by Modi government to victimise key witnesses in the cases that are being heard, supervised by the Supreme Court. You know, the important thing what Mr. Bhatt said yesterday that he is a key witness in the Zakia Jafri and CGP case, in which Modi and 61 others have been named as accused. That case is in the process of being chargesheeted, as per an order by the Supreme Court. So, his arrest is nothing short of an attempt not just to intimidate him, but to send a message to other witnesses, that anybody who dares speak up against Mr. Modi will meet this fate," she added.
Setalvad also said that the Gujarat government was curbing the essential rights of individuals using autocratic means.
"How many IPS officers who are slightly inconvenient to the government for whatever charges are being deliberately framed in criminal charges, and false criminal charges. So, I think it is a real question we need to ask, that is this the kind of democracy we want, is there any adherence to the rule of law?" said Setalvad.
Urging Modi to defend himself in the court of law, Setalvad asaid that the 'undemocratic' manner in which Bhatt was arrested proved that the Gujarat government was rattled by the intense public and judicial scrutiny of the 2002 riots.
"Modi should be patient. If he wants to discredit Mr. Bhatt, he should do it in the court of law. But to use extra-judicial powers like this, to misuse state power, suggests that he is panicky," said Setalvad. (ANI)