Teesta Setalvad, Ahmed Patel tried to topple Gujarat government: Police
The Gujarat Police has alleged that activist Teesta Setalvad was part of a "larger conspiracy" to depose the BJP administration in Gujarat during the 2002 riots at the behest of late Congress leader Ahmed Patel. The police asserted this while opposing Setalvad's bail request in the sessions court of Ahmedabad. Meanwhile, the Congress has denied the allegations leveled against the veteran party leader.
- In 2002, Setalvad was one of the earliest activists to take up cases of the Gujarat riot victims, with her Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) providing victims with legal assistance.
- MC Setalvad, India's first attorney-general, was her grandfather.
- Setalvad was a co-petitioner, while Zakia Jafri was the main petitioner in the Supreme Court case dismissed recently contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's exoneration.
"The political objective of the applicant (Setalvad) while enacting this larger conspiracy was dismissal or destabilization of the elected government," the Gujarat Police's Special Investigation Team (SIT) said in an affidavit filed before the sessions court. "She obtained illegal financial and other benefits and rewards from the rival political party in lieu of her attempts to wrongly implicate innocent persons in Gujarat," it added.
The SIT alleged that Setalvad colluded at the direction of the late politician Patel and received Rs. 30 lakh after the Godhra riots in 2002. While citing the testimony of a witness, the SIT also asserted in its affidavit that Setalvad regularly met the leaders of a prominent national party in power at the Centre and implicated senior BJP leaders in riot cases.
According to the SIT, Setalvad was interested in becoming a Rajya Sabha member in 2006 with the help of a Congress leader. It opposed Setalvad's bail on the grounds that the investigation was ongoing and she may intimidate witnesses and tamper with evidence if freed. Additional Sessions Judge DD Thakkar accepted the SIT's response on record and scheduled the bail hearing for Monday.
Meanwhile, Congress has strongly condemned the investigative team's allegations against Patel, claiming that they are part of PM Modi's deliberate plan to clear himself of any culpability for the communal carnage unleashed in Gujarat in 2002. "The prime minister's political vendetta machine clearly does not even spare the departed who were his political adversaries," Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a statement.
Gujarat cops detained Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar on allegations of criminal conspiracy, forgery, and record falsification, among other IPC sections, based on an FIR made by Inspector Darshansinh Barad, who quotes extensively from the Supreme Court's judgment. The nine-page FIR filed on behalf of Gujarat state also names ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is already in jail in connection with another case.