South Asia

Gujarat police officer Sanjiv Bhatt freed on bail

Sanjiv Bhatt outside a court in Ahmedabad on 1 October
Image caption Mr Bhatt says his arrest was 'politically motivated'

A senior police officer, arrested for allegedly fabricating evidence to implicate Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in deadly anti-Muslim riots in 2002, has been freed on bail.

Sanjiv Bhatt was suspended from duty and imprisoned on 30 September.

He claims Mr Modi told a meeting that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger. Mr Modi denies the charge.

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.

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

A court in the city of Ahmedabad granted bail to Mr Bhatt but ordered him to co-operate with the investigation.

Mr Bhatt was arrested after a police constable, KD Pant, filed a complaint against him, accusing him of threatening him and forcing him to sign a false affidavit.

Mr Bhatt's lawyer argued in court that the police officer's arrest was "politically motivated" and alleged that his home was raided so that any documentary evidence of Mr Modi's role in the riots could be destroyed.

Earlier, in a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, Mr Bhatt said 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.

He also alleges that in a meeting in 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.

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