Ahmedabad: Suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, who had accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in 2002 post-Godhra riots, was arrested on Friday following a complaint by a police constable.

Bhatt was being questioned in connection with an FIR filed against him by Constable K D Pant, who had worked under him during the 2002 riots.

He has been accused of threatening a public servant, fabricating false evidence and wrongful confinement.

"Bhatt has been arrested and is being questioned," City Police Commissioner Sudhir Sinha said.

Pant alleged that Bhatt had threatened and made him sign a "false" affidavit about a high-level meeting called by Modi on February 27, 2002 after the Godhra train attack in which 59 persons were killed.

According to Bhatt, Modi is alleged to have said at the meeting that the Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger and that Muslims should be taught a lesson.

"Bhatt has been brought in for questioning with regard to the FIR against him in the Ghatlodia police station. His statement will be recorded." Gujarat DGP Chitranjan Singh said.

Bhatt has received a notice issued to Gujarat Police with regard to the case from the Supreme Court on his petition, Singh added.

He was taken to the Ghatlodia police station by ACP N C Patel, police said.

According to Pant's FIR, on June 16 he got a call from Bhatt asking him to come to his residence for some work. As per the FIR, when Pant reached Bhatt's residence, the IPS officer informed him that amicus curie from the Supreme Court was coming on June 18 and they had to meet him to record a statement.

Pant alleged that Bhatt asked him to tell the amicus curie that SIT had forcefully recorded his statement. When he resisted, Bhatt allegedly threatened him and said that there was no need to worry if he did what he was told.

The police constable further claimed that Bhatt took him to meet state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia at his residence. Modhwadia too assured him that there was no need to worry and he should do what Bhatt was asking, he added.

After meeting Modhwadia, Bhatt took Pant to the office of an advocate and notary near the Gujarat High Court and made him sign two sets of affidavits, the FIR claimed.

Bhatt in his affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, where he had alleged complicity of Modi in the post-Godhra riots, had stated that Pant who knew about Modi's meeting was threatened with dire consequences and arrested by the special investigation team (SIT), which is probing some of the 2002 riot cases on the direction of the Apex Court.

He had further alleged that Pant was virtually treated like an accused by the SIT during his questioning on April 5, 2011.

BJP defends Bhatt's arrest

Terming as "right step" the arrest of IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who had implicated Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra riot, the BJP on Friday said a government cannot tolerate unaccountability and indiscipline from bureaucrats and police personnel.

"This is a very right step. Any state cannot tolerate unaccountability and indiscipline. Officers and police personnel have to follow a certain discipline, a code of conduct and decorum," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He also took a dig at Home Minister PChidambaram, who had appeared to be sympathetic in his statements on Bhatt, over the arrest.

"Only Chidambaram may, with political intent, encourage such officers but we will not," Javadekar said.

Police raids Bhatt's house

Following the arrest of suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt, who accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 riots, police conducted a raid at his residence in Memnagar area here to "check for evidence" related to the case.

Bhatt was arrested in connection with an FIR filed against him by a constable K D Pant for allegedly threatening him and making him sign a false affidavit with regard to a meeting called by Modi on February 27, 2002.

A search operation began this evening after Bhatt's arrest, sources said.

According to police, they were checking for evidence related to the case in which Bhatt has been arrested and looking for documentary proofs.

Arrest an attempt to intimidate Bhatt:  lawyer

The lawyer of suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt on Friday said that the arrest of his client earlier in the day was an attempt to intimidate a witness who had deposed against the Narendera Modi government.

"This is vindictive action of the Gujarat government because Bhatt has made startling revelations about the Chief Minister's meeting of February 27, 2002 in the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court," Bhatt's lawyer, advocate I H Syed, said.

"This is an attempt to intimidate my client, who has deposed against government's action during the post-Godhra riots before the Nanavati Commission and the SC-appointed special investigation team (SIT)," he said.

Syed said he was going to apply for bail. "We have bail application ready which will be placed before the magistrate when Bhatt is produced."

Syed said Bhatt has been charged under IPC sections 341 (causing wrongful restraint), 342 (causing wrongful confinement), 195 (giving fabricated evidence) and 189 (threat of injury to public servant).

Activists slam Modi-government

Meanwhile, Activists slammed the Narendra Modi government over the arrest of suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt in connection with an FIR filed by his former subordinate.

"We strongly condemn the arrest of Sanjeev Bhatt, which is on frivolous grounds," Father Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, the city-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights said.

"Bhatt has been extremely forthright in his stand for truth and justice, very particularly, on the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 and now he has to pay the price," he added.

This is another instance of the fascism that is thriving in Gujarat, Prakash said and demanded Bhatt's unconditional and immediate release.
     
Social activist Teesta Setalvad said that this action of the Modi government amounted to tampering with evidence and intimidation of a key witness.

"It is a cheap attempt to slur Bhatt's character and standing," she said in a statement.

Claiming the police action against Bhatt as subversion of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, Setalvad said that the hasty and vindictive action of Gujarat police raises serious issues of contempt of the highest court as the matter is still under consideration of the Supreme Court.

(Agencies)