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Gujarat Govt Opposes Discharge Plea Of Teesta Setalvad In Gujarat Riots Fabrication Of Evidence Case

The Gujarat government told the court that Teesta Setalvad had abused the trust of the 2002 Gujarat Riots victims and implicated innocent persons.

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Activist Teesta Setalvad
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In a case of fabrication of evidence related to 2002 Gujarat Riots, the Gujarat government has opposed the discharge petition of activist Teesta Setalvad. 

Setalvad is currently out on bail. She had been ordered by the Gujarat High Court to surrender before the police immediately on Saturday. Later, however, in a rare late night hearing, the Supreme Court had stayed the High Court's order for a week. 

The Gujarat government on Monday told the court of Additional Sessions Judge Ambalal Patel that Setalvad had abused the trust of the 2002 Gujarat Riots victims and implicated innocent persons, reported PTI.

The Gujarat government affidavit said that Setalvad drafted affidavits in the names of 2002 Gujarat Riots to implicate innocent persons, including the-then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, senior officers, and and ministers, according to PTI. 

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Setalvad is an accused in the case along with former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) RB Sreekumar and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt. The court had earlier rejected Sreekumar's discharge petition. 

While opposing Setalvad's discharge plea, the Gujarat government has relied on the statements of witnesses Rais Khan Pathan, who worked at Setalvad's NGO Citizen for Peace, Narendra Brahmbhatt who had claimed that late Congress leader Ahmed Patel had allegedly paid Setalvad Rs 30 lakh, and riot victim Qutubuddin Ansari, reported PTI.

The report further said that the Gujarat government also highlighted the "contradiction" in the affidavits of riot victims prepared by Setalvad and the statements recorded by them before the court.

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"There is sufficient evidence and reasons to file a chargesheet against the accused. For the reasons mentioned above and taking into account the reasons and submissions to be presented during the argument, the court is requested to reject the discharge plea of the accused," the government's affidavit said, as per PTI.

Setalvad was arrested last June along with Sreekumar and Bhatt in an offence registered by Ahmedabad crime branch police for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame “innocent people” in 2002 Gujarat Riots. In the communal violence that followed the burning of a train in Gujarat's Godhra, over 1,000 persons were killed, most of whom were Muslims. In the Godhra train-burning, 58 passengers were killed in two coaches carrying Hindu activists. 

Setalvad was released on interim bail on September 3.

In its judgment, the Gujarat High Court had observed that prima facie Setalvad used her close associates and riot victims to file "false and fabricated affidavits before the Supreme Court with a view to unseat the establishment and to tarnish the image of establishment and the then chief minister (Modi)", according to PTI.

The fabrication of evidence case against Setalvad, Bhatt, and Sreekumar was registered a day after the Supreme Court's verdict in the Zakia Jafri case, in which it dismissed a plea of Jafri, the wife of slain former MP Ehsan Jafri, which challenged the Special Investigation Team’s (SIT) clean chit to 64 people, including Modi in the 2002 Gujarat Riots case.

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Earlier, the Ahmedabad sessions court had rejected the bail applications filed by Setalvad and Sreekumar.

Last month, the trial court rejected Sreekumar's plea for discharge in the case. He is also out on interim bail granted by the High Court. The third accused Bhatt has not applied for bail and was already in jail for another criminal matter when he was arrested in this case.

The Ahmedabad city crime branch had filed an FIR against Setalvad and two others under Indian Penal Code sections 468 (forgery for cheating) and 194 (fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offences), according to PTI.

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