India

Sanjiv Bhatt: Gujarat police officer critical of PM Modi sacked

Sanjiv Bhatt Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau at the time of the 2002 riots

A senior police officer critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's alleged role in the anti-Muslim Gujarat riots in 2002 has been sacked.

Sanjiv Bhatt was suspended in 2011 and briefly jailed before being given bail.

He claims Mr Modi, who was the Gujarat chief minister in 2002, told a meeting that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger. Mr Modi denies the charge.

The state authorities accuse him of fabricating evidence to implicate Mr Modi.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed when riots erupted after 60 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire.

The cause of the 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.

In 2011, the Supreme Court cleared Mr Modi of involvement in the riots.

'Sham'

Sanjiv Bhatt was a senior police officer in the Gujarat intelligence bureau at the time of the riots.

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.

On Wednesday night, Mr Bhatt broke the news of his removal on Twitter:

Image copyright Twitter

In a Facebook post, he described the reasons given by the authorities while sacking him:

"The Government of the day has decided to remove me from service after conducting a sham, ex parte inquiry on completely fabricated charges of 'unauthorised absence from duty," he wrote.

In the past, Mr Bhatt alleged that at a meeting the night before the riots, Mr Modi told officials that the Muslim community needed to be taught a lesson following the incident on the train carrying Hindu pilgrims.

Mr Bhatt was suspended from duty in 2011 for not attending office, for misusing his official car and for threatening a police constable.

He says the action against him has been "politically motivated".

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