Police officer, Sanjeev Bhatt, the prime witness against Narendra Modi, the current Prime Minister of India and the then Chief Minister of Gujarat during the infamous riots of 2002 – was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday.
The matter in which he was sentenced was not related to the 2002 riots.
It was, in fact, a 30-year-old custodial death case which was finally heard in 2015, after Mr. Modi became the Prime Minister of India.
This matter would not have been highlighted to such an extent, where even the international media is getting involved, if justice, as they say, would have been seen to be done.
The custodial death was in a small town of Gujarat, where the police officer was sent for controlling the law and order situation during a ‘Bharat Band’ or countrywide curfew. Riots broke out in places and arrests were made.
As many as 150 people had been detained for rioting while Bharatiya Janata Party’s veteran L.K. Advani led his rath yatra through Jamjodhpur town in November of 1990, according to the Express report. Vaishnani, who was among those detained, was released on bail after nine days and allegedly died ten days after his release while undergoing treatment in a hospital. His brother, Amrutlal, had then filed a complaint alleging custodial torture against Bhatt and eight other policemen.
But the entire case was put on hold till 2011.
In 2011, when Bhatt had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court, claiming to have attended a meeting on the eve of the 2002 Gujarat riots, during which he alleged that Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of Gujarat, had asked senior IPS officers to let Hindus “vent out their anger against Muslims,” his case was reopened.
From false affidavits to policemen being honey-trapped, this case saw all the highs and lows of the power struggles in the corridors of democracy. While the conviction of Narendra Modi in the 2002 riot case, hung upon the testimony of Sanjeev Bhatt, the unfolding circumstances have left many astounded.
While the power of the politicians cannot be denied, it is always assumed that the judiciary will remain impartial to the position of the person accused. However, this is mostly in theory and time and again, we have seen the abuse of these positions.
The conviction of police officer Sanjeev Bhatt will remain questionable till the time the reigns of India are firmly in the hands of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party. We will never know if justice was actually done in this case.