In the present political scenario, the move by the Gujarat police of arresting Sanjiv Bhatt, a former IPS officer in connection with a 22-year old case, demands the attention and vigilance of the entire nation.
The allegation faced by Bhatt is that he had falsely framed an advocate for possessing drugs. The Gujarat High Court had handed over the case to the CID in June and ordered to complete the probe in three months. Although the authorities can claim that the arrest is a natural continuation of the above events, several aspects including the timing raises suspicion. The court had rejected the plea of the police to get Bhatt into custody. There are political goals than any interest for justice, behind retrieving a case which is more than two decades old and using it against Bhatt. Bhatt who secured an IPS with a high rank after graduating from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, is one of the few police officers who upheld law and justice in the dark days of Gujarat genocide.
Sanjiv Bhatt is a responsible police officer who pointed out that the goons who went on a rampage in the streets of Gujarat for carrying out the massacre had the support of the Narendra Modi government in the state. The factual reports he had sent to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and others then have become invaluable records for the Inquiry Commission and the courts. Bhatt who had testified against the state government in the Ehsan Jafri murder case, displayed the audacity to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court against Modi. Bhatt who took a firm stance for the Constitution and the law, has repeatedly proved that he does not fear the government. The price he had to paid for this was colossal. Numerous false cases were charged against him. Bhatt who had appeared before the Nanavati Commission several times, was dismissed from service on the grounds of 'unauthorised absence'-and the reason was that he was testifying before the Commission at that time. He was denied pension and other benefits. A portion of his house was demolished citing it as illegal construction. Police security was withdrawn despite threats to his safety. Despite all of this, Bhatt has been making his stand clear against Modi on social media. It is in the backdrop that his arrest becomes relevant.
This can only be seen as a continuation of the moves to suppress the authentic voices that raise against the government and Modi. The circumstances in which activists such as Gauri Lankesh, Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi were murdered, are similar. All of them had openly opposed the hardcore communal wing that has been taking root in India today. When the violent mob and goons go on a rampage in the streets, the BJP governments use the law for promoting their narrow-minded politics and suppressing the voices of dissent. One instance is the arrest of five human rights activists for alleged Maoist links. The Supreme Court had to intervene to point out that dissent was essential for democracy. The Fascist justice that criticising the government is akin to sedition is visible not only in the streets but also at the power centres. To boost the false cases, the suspicious allegation of weaving a conspiracy to murder the Prime Minister, frequently finds a place in the chargesheets. An instance is the 'Maoist letter' said to have been discovered by the police from the house of Rona Wilson who was arrested recently. The fact that the police handed over this letter to the media without presenting it before the court is an 'evidence' of its authenticity. People ranging from leaders who had been close to Modi including Ram Jethmalani and Arun Shouri to former experienced bureaucrats and others warns about this dangerous progress ahead. It was three months ago that 49 prominent officers who had served in the senior positions with the government , expressed concern about the current situation of the country. Last year, 112 former chiefs who had served in senior posts in the Indian Navy had warned about the divisive politics taking root in the country.
Sanjiv Bhatt is the latest victim of the trend of regressively utilising the politics and the law equally. He does not seem to be the last person. The flaws and the failures of the Modi government have strengthened the voices of dissent. The Dalits, farmers, women, employees and tribals have begun raising their collective voices. The government has been using the loopholes in the law to tackle them. An instance is Section 124 A in the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The colonial rule which was introduced by the British to suppress dissent, is used to quash the expressions and protests of dissent, including cartoons. Many are suppressed with charges of Maoism and extremism under the guise of anti-terrorism laws. It is the time for the nation to be vigilant. Freedom and the rights of democracy do not erode all of a sudden; but they erode gradually in the form of each incident, case and as each victim. At present, that is what is happening in the country.