A local court in Gujarat’s Jamnagar district has sentenced former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt to life in a case dating back to 1990 when he was posted as the Additional Superintendent of Police.
The District and Sessions Court judge DM Vyas found Bhatt and another police officer Pravinsinh Zala guilty in the custodial death of one Prabhudas Vaishnani, who the Jamnagar Police had arrested along with 150 others in connection with the communal riots. Zala too was sentenced to life.
“The court found Pravinsinh Zala and Sanjiv Bhatt guilty under IPC section 302 and thus sentenced them to life imprisonment under IPC section 302. Rest of the accused were found guilty under section 323, 506 for custodial torture,” Tushar Gokani and Madhu Mehta, special public prosecutors in the case, were quoted by Indian Express.
The quantum of punishment for the five other accused will be announced soon.
Jamnagar had experienced large-scale communal riots in 1990 in the immediate aftermath of a rath yatra held by BJP leader LK Advani. Of the 150 arrested for rioting, Vaishnani had died after his release. His family members had accused Bhatt of torturing Vaishnani during his police custody. His brother Amrutlal Vaishnani had filed a case of custodial death against eight police officers including Bhatt.
Bhatt was a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and frequently criticised him from his social media pages until he was arrested by the Gujarat Police last year. He was suspended in 2011 after being accused of remaining absent from duty without permission and misuse of official vehicles before being dismissed from service in August 2015.
Bhatt had also testified against Modi for his alleged role in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots of Gujarat that killed nearly 4,000 people, mostly Muslims.