Bhatt has security, only excess guards withdrawn: Gujarat Police

Ahmedabad, April 29 (IANS) Gujarat Police Friday said security was being provided to Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjiv Bhatt, who has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court accusing Chief Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 riots, and only excess personnel deployed without approval had been withdrawn.

While Bhatt maintains that the need for his security has been overlooked despite his repeated pleas, the state police chief said an armed security officer was posted at Bhatt’s residence here round the clock.

A statement by Director General of Police Chittaranjan Singh said Bhatt, currently principal of the Police Training School at Junagadh, had been absent from his place of posting without authorisation. Bhatt had sought 54 days’ leave at half-pay from Feb 14 but was directed not to leave his posting until a decision on the leave was taken, it said.

Bhatt, however, went on leave flouting the orders, the DGP said, adding Bhatt had also deployed police personnel from the school at his Ahmedabad residence without prior approval.

According to the DGP, Bhatt’s letter for security dated Feb 14 was received in the home department March 4. Following a letter from the SIT dated March 21, a threat assessment was carried out.

‘He is like other police officers who have been working and have not received any threats, so there was no recommendation for providing police protection. However, keeping in mind the Supreme Court directives that Godhra case witnesses be provided security if they ask for it, one armed personal security officer has been provided round the clock at his residence from April 23,’ the DGP said in his statement.

According to the top cop, the state police sent a team from the training centre to Bhatt’s Ahmedabad residence Friday to ensure the state reserve police personnel posted there go back to the Junagadh centre. The official vehicle allotted to Bhatt was also been taken back to Jungadh.

Bhatt, however, has challenged the claim that he is ‘unauthorisedly absent’ from his duty and has in a letter accused the DGP of ‘continuing to take pro-active steps to jeopardise’ his security and that of his family by repeatedly ordering withdrawal of his official vehicle and security.

‘I was on a month’s leave and on March 19, I resumed my duties duly informing the DGP. I deposed before the SIT on March 21 and since have been instructed by the SIT to stay put in Ahmedabad since they could summon me again. I have marked a copy of my response to the DGP’s letter to the registrar general of the Supreme Court,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Bhatt’s deposition before the Nanavati-Mehta Judicial Inquiry Commission, slated for May 16, will be held behind closed doors, according to sources.

NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch (JSM), which represents the riot victims and had sought summoning of Bhatt before the panel, has decided to protest this move.