In Modi’s India: Gujarat Riots Whistleblower Gets Life Term For ‘Murder’, Rapper Charged With Sedition Over Posts Against Adityanath
Sanjiv Bhatt, a former top Indian policeman critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role in anti-Muslim Gujarat riots in 2002, has been jailed for life after being convicted of murder in a case dating back 30 years.
In a separate development, UK-based Taran Kaur Dhillon – popularly known by her rapper name ‘Hard Kaur’ – has been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including sedition for posts on social media sharply critical of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Bhatt had alleged that Modi, chief minister at the time of the violence in Gujarat, told officials that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger against Muslims. More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the violence.
The murder conviction against Bhatt is in connection with a case in 1989, when he arrested more than 150 people during rioting. One of them later died in hospital after being released.
The man’s family alleged that he died after being tortured by Bhatt and several other police officers.
Bhatt’s conviction and sentencing were imposed by a court in Gujarat state. He can appeal against the sentence.
He and his family have previously alleged that he was targeted by the government because of his allegations against Modi.
The state authorities accuse him of fabricating evidence to implicate Modi, who became PM in 2014. He was sacked in 2015 after being suspended in 2011.
Riots erupted in Gujarat after 60 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire. They were some of the deadliest the country has seen since independence in 1947.
The cause of the train blaze was never clearly established. Hindu groups allege the fire was started by Muslim protesters, but an earlier inquiry said the fire was an accident.
Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau at the time of the violence.
He says his position allowed him to come across large amounts of information and intelligence both before and during the violence, including the actions of senior administrative officials.
Meanwhile, the complaint in the case of Kaur was filed in Varanasi by lawyer Shashank Shekhar [a RSS member] under IPC Sections 124A (sedition), 153 (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion), 500 (defamation) and 505 (intent to incite), and Section 66 of the IT Act.
Kaur’s Facebook and Instagram pages feature posts in which Adityanath is referred as “rapeman” and RSS is blamed for Hemant Karkare’s death. In fact, Karkare was killed while fighting terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, though a section of Hindutva politicians – BJP MP Pragya Thakur, for example – have said the anti-terror policeman got his just deserts for acting against Hindus accused of terrorism.
In another post, she accused RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for a number of terrorist crimes, including Pulwama.
This is not the first time the sedition law is being invoked against social media posts, even though the Supreme Court has stated that this amounts to misuse. Recently, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said that the sedition charge be revoked against a man who had criticised him on social media.