Sanjeev Bhatt in Custody, arrest was inevitable

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Sanjeev Bhatt
'Whistle blower", 'top cop", 'man who dared to take on the might of Narendra Modi" are some of the praises that have been constantly heaped on Sanjeev Bhatt. On Sep 30, Friday (Today), as the law catches up with him, it needs to be asked if he is worthy of even one of the above attributes.

A deeper look at Mr. Bhatt"s records will suggest that his arrest was not only the need of the hour but also long over due. Sources revealed to Oneindia News. Infact, one needs to laud the authorities in Gujarat for taking this bold decision when it is certain that the arrest will unleash a fresh wave of vilification campaign against the establishment in Gujarat. In most other states, it is certainty that officials who face charges similar to Bhatt"s would either get away due to patronage or be left alone simply because of their high nuisance value. But, the wheels of justice in Gujarat are neither slow nor weak to let this happen.

The service record of Mr. Sanjeev Bhatt has been controversial since the very beginning to say the least. On 18th November 1990 barely two years into service, Bhatt found himself named in a private complaint when as the Assistant Superintendent of Police in Jamnagar he indulged in rampant misuse of power including the use of the draconian TADA . In the process, it resulted in the death of one person. Thus, as Mr. Bhatt gives bold speeches on democracy and the right to dissent, he conveniently forgets his own actions that suppressed both.

In addition to the above, Mr. Bhatt faced the ire of lawyers in Rajasthan over allegations of falsely implicating their colleague in a narcotics case during his tenure as the SP of Banaskantha, Gujarat. He is accused of falsely planting more than a kilogram worth of narcotics and indulging in abductions just in order to establish an alibi and serve vested interests. Subsequently, a criminal case was filed against him that is still pending. How can a person with pending criminal cases get promoted? This is the crux of his anti-Government attitude despite knowing the laws that Governments cannot promote tainted civil servants.

Sanjeev Bhatt and recruitment scam in 1996

The list does not end here- Mr. Bhatt was at the centre of a massive recruitment scam that hit Gujarat in 1996 when he headed the recruitment process as SP of Banaskantha. The charges against him are very serious- he did not follow regular procedures including maintaining records of those candidates who were successful in the police constable examinations. Ignoring the orders of the DGP, he did not follow the correct process of recruiting armed and unarmed constables separately preferring to go for a combined recruitment. The resulting lapses were against the principles of natural justice be it in terms of giving unfit candidates a chance to reach the second stage or concealing crucial information about the candidates. All these instances imply a clear misuse of power and carelessness, apathy towards his duty.

Mr. Bhatt"s claims of being present at a meeting called by the Chief Minister on 27th February 2002 need to be discounted as lies- this is not only people saying it but also the seven officers who were actually present at the high level meeting then. Having remained of SP rank till as late as 2007, one wonders how he was present at such a top level meeting considering he held no high post then. Even in recent times, lies and controversy have followed Sanjeev Bhatt. He has been regular touch with members of the opposition in Gujarat, even procuring expensive gadgets from them. Mr. Bhatt also turned towards civil society and requested Shabnam Hashmi and Father Cedric Prakash, who are no friends of the Chief Minister to launch a signature campaign to help him in his fight against the Gujarat Chief Minister.

As late as August 31st last year, Mr. Bhatt was posted as the Principal SRP Training College at Junagadh but he not only refused to report to work but also misused his official vehicle. If absenteeism without notice is not a crime then he is innocent but there are certain rules public servants must abide by. It is unfortunate when officers chosen to serve the people refuse to report on duty while continuing to use the perks they are entitled to while on duty. This is a clear betrayal of public trust they are supposed to enjoy.

Bhatt not a 'Whistle blower'

The recent arrest too requires some careful study. The charges against Mr. Bhatt remain very serious, that of intimidating a junior constable, who was threatened by Mr. Bhatt into signing false affidavits against the Gujarat Chief Minister regarding the 2002 riots. Mr. Pant was working under Mr. Bhatt then. Mr. Pant has also spoken out about the close links Mr. Bhatt had with select leaders of the opposition in Gujarat. Mr. Pant was assured that the Gujarat Chief Minister would be in jail in two months. But months into after the meeting, it is Mr. Bhatt who faces charges that can see him suffer up to a maximum imprisonment of 10 years!

It is, therefore amply clear that Mr. Bhatt is far away from being the 'whistle blower" he is made out to be. This 'whistleblowing" is in reality a series of subversive actions against the legitimate functioning of a democratic Government just to subvert one"s own infamous record which includes quelling protest, presiding over a scam, the killing of persons and the fact that he operates not with the Government of the day but the leaders of the opposition. Herein lies the irony of a civil servant consistently hailed as a 'whistle blower".

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