Social activist Teesta Setalvad was part of a larger conspiracy to frame the then-Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others as accused in the post-Godhra riots cases, and attempted to destabilize the BJP government using funds collected in the name of victims, a state SIT told a court on Wednesday.
Teesta Setalvad was arrested last month by the Ahmedabad crime branch along with former DGP RB Sreekumar and ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for allegedly fabricating evidence to frame innocent persons in the 2002 riots cases. The Mumbai-based activist, currently in jail in Gujarat, has sought bail.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the Gujarat police, probing the charges against Teesta Setalvad and the two former police officers, has opposed her bail plea.
Arguing against the bail plea of Teesta Setalvad, special public prosecutor (SPP) Mitesh Amin told the court of sessions judge DD Thakkar in Ahmedabad that she was part of a larger conspiracy to frame the then-chief minister Narendra Modi and others as accused in the riots cases.
Mitesh Amin told the court Teesta Setalvad received funds on the ground they were meant to be distributed among the victims of the 2002 riots, but the money never reached the intended beneficiaries.
The SPP claimed the money was rather used to destabilise the then-BJP government and show it engineered and sponsored the riots, which were triggered after a mob torched a coach of the Sabarmati Express train near Godhra station on February 27, 2002, leading to the death of 59 passengers.
The conspiracy involved Congress leaders like the late Ahmed Patel and others, and all this was done at the behest of the opposition party, he said.
Further arguments will continue on Thursday.
The court is hearing the bail pleas of both Teesta Setalvad and RB Sreekumar. They have already refuted all the charges levelled against them and claimed there was no merit in them.
Teesta Setalvad, along with RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, was booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 468 (forgery) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence), among other offences after arrest.
The SIT, in its affidavit submitted before the court last week, had accused Teesta Setalvad of conspiring with the two other accused - RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt -- for "dismissal or destabilisation of the elected government in Gujarat by hook or by crook." Opposing her bail plea, the SIT said in the affidavit that the conspiracy was carried out at the behest of Ahmed Patel. At Ahmed Patel's behest, Teesta Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after the post-Godhra riots, the probe team alleged.
Teesta Setalvad used to meet the leaders of a "prominent national party in power at that time in Delhi to implicate names of senior leaders of the BJP government in riot cases", the SIT further claimed in the affidavit.
Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, killed during the riots in Ahmedabad.
The plea alleged a "larger conspiracy" behind the 2002 riots in Gujarat. But the court upheld a previous SIT's clean chit to PM Modi (who was Gujarat CM from 2001 to 2014) and 63 others.
The top court had said there is no "title of material" to support the allegation that the communal violence that took place after the Godhra train burning incident was a "pre-planned event" owing to a conspiracy hatched at the highest level in the state.
Ehsan Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society during the violence on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train burning incident.
The central government had informed the Rajya Sabha in May 2005 that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed in the statewide riots.