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Sunday, 9 October 2011

Gujarat riot victims detained for protesting against Narendra Modifast

Gujarat riot victims detained for protesting against Narendra Modifast

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat police detained more than 50 activists and riot victims just 8km from the venue of chief minister Narendra Modi's fast on Sunday for daring to stage a demonstration against the state government and Modi's 'Sadbhavana mission'. On the same day, the Gujarat home ministry also chargesheeted suspended IPS officer, Deputy Inspector General Sanjiv Bhatt, for "absence from office without prior intimation". 

A large gathering of riot victims was setting up a podium near a mosque at Naroda Patia when cops trooped in and told them they did not have the administration's permission to protest. The call for demonstration was given by the Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM) and civil rights activists and the event was called 'Sachi Sadbhavana' against Modi's Sadbhavana Mission

"We protested against the arbitrary police action of detaining activists, including Mukul Sinha and Shamshad Khan Pathan and several riot victims. Later, when the women started protesting, a team of women police lathi-charged the people. It was shameful, especially since the CM claims to be open to any criticism," said Praveen Mishra, a volunteer with the JSM. 

Mallika Sarabhai, who came to show solidarity, too, was detained. Police said the activists were held because they were planning a protest without permission in a sensitive area. 

Deputy commissioner of police Amit Vishwakarma told TOI that a total of 56 people were detained, including 26 women. "They were taken to the Shahibaug police ground and later released at 7pm as per the rule. We have beefed up security in and around the area to avert any untoward incident," he said. 

DIG Bhatt, who is posted in the Police Training College of Junagadh, was suspended for remaining absent from duty for 10 months. DGP Chittaranjan Singh said, "The chargesheet was served in keeping with the norms that a suspended police officer has to be chargesheeted within 45 days." Bhatt is also accused of insubordination, and using official staff and vehicles while not on duty. 

Bhatt has said he was supposed to report for hearings of the Nanavati-Mehta riot probe commission as witness, which prevented him from going to work. But he was called for deposition only thrice during the 10 months. He also moved an affidavit in the Supreme Court against the government and chief minister Modi, accusing them of playing a partisan role in the 2002 riots. He had alleged that he was suspended because of this affidavit. 

Bhatt will now face an enquiry which will be headed by a police officer appointed by the state home department.

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