Gujarat court rejects discharge plea of ex-DGP Sreekumar in 2002 post-Godhra riots evidence fabrication case

A sessions court here rejected a discharge application of former director general of police (DGP) RB Sreekumar who is accused of using fabricated evidence to frame “innocent people” and defame Gujarat in connection with the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

The court of additional sessions judge AR Patel said in its order on Monday that it is of the view that prima facie there is enough evidence to indict the accused, and the prosecution should be given an opportunity to present evidence against him.

The prosecution alleged that the accused was involved in preparing the complaint filed by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain former Congress Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, against the then chief minister Narendra Modi and others under sections like 302 (murder) and 120 (b) (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code on June 8, 2006.

Sreekumar allegedly conspired with other people and met them in different states for the purpose. An audio clip produced as evidence has been proved by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) as belonging to the accused, the court stated in its order.

Considering this fact, it can be said that there is enough evidence to file a chargesheet against the accused, it said.

Sreekumar as well as social activist Teesta Setalvad and ex-Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt are accused in the case.

As per the prosecution, they entered into a criminal conspiracy to fabricate false evidence to procure capital punishment for innocent people in the post-Godhra riots cases.

Sreekumar, a 1971-batch IPS officer and former DGP (Intelligence) who was the additional DGP in-charge of the armed unit during the 2002 Godhra incident, had filed a discharge application claiming that no case was made out against him.

The three accused were booked by the Ahmedabad city police’s crime branch in June 2022, and a special investigation team (SIT) was formed to probe the case. The chargesheet was filed on September 21 last year.

While Mumbai-based Setalvad and Sreekumar, arrested in June 2022, are currently out on interim bail, Bhatt is serving a life sentence in a jail in Palanpur in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district over a custodial death.

A first information report (FIR) was registered against them after the Supreme Court last year dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by an earlier SIT to then-Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and others in cases related to post-Godhra communal riots.

The Gujarat riots were triggered by the torching of a coach of Sabarmati Express by a mob near Godhra station on February 27, 2002. Fifty-nine passengers, mostly Hindu Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya, were charred to death in the incident.

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All three have been accused of abusing the process of law by conspiring to fabricate evidence in an attempt to frame “innocent people” for an offence punishable with capital punishment in connection with the 2002 riots.

Among the documentary evidence in the chargesheet is a copy of a complaint filed by Zakia Jafri in June 2006 in which she had accused 63 persons, including then-CM Modi, of “wilful dereliction” of duty.

Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad’s Gulberg Housing Society during violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning.

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