Statement on the 60th Birthday of Prisoner of Conscience Sanjiv Bhatt
Today, on the occasion of former Indian police officer Sanjiv Bhatt’s 60th birthday, we honor his unwavering commitment to truth and justice, despite facing undue punishment, loss, and imprisonment at the hands of the Indian government.
Mr. Bhatt stands as a symbol of resilience, enduring false charges and imprisonment for refusing to silence his voice regarding Prime Minister Modi’s involvement in the tragic Gujarat pogrom of 2002. This atrocity witnessed the brutal slaughter of approximately 2,000 Muslims by Hindu militant mobs.
In 2011, Sanjiv Bhatt filed an affidavit in the Indian Supreme Court, providing evidence that Modi had ordered law enforcement not to intervene in the violence, saying, “Let Hindus vent their anger.”
In turn, Modi began an ongoing attempt to punish Mr. Bhatt for stepping forward as a whistleblower. Four months after the affidavit was filed, Mr. Bhatt was suspended as a police officer at Modi’s behest. In 2015, a year after Modi became India’s Prime Minister, Mr. Bhatt was dismissed from duty. Later, his offices and part of his family home were bulldozed.
In 2018, Mr. Bhatt was arrested in a 30-year-old custodial death case in which he had no involvement. In 2019, he was sentenced to life imprisonment under these false charges, and has since been repeatedly denied bail by a judiciary that is fully corrupted by Modi’s anti-minority and Hindu supremacist agenda – one that offers bail to Hindu militants who raped and murdered thousands of Muslims, but denies a fair trial to a police officer who sought justice for the victims.
The persecution Mr. Bhatt has faced serves as a stark reminder of the challenges confronted by those who speak out against the atrocities committed under the watch of the far right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which seeks to establish a Hindu supremacist state at the expense of religious minorities.
Though the Modi government continues its efforts to suppress Mr. Bhatt’s voice through abuse of the judicial system, the global movement for accountability grows stronger, both in India and around the world.
For Mr. Bhatt, the price of truth has been a life sentenced away from his freedom, but his unwavering spirit remains undeterred.
On this special milestone of his 60th birthday, we extend our heartfelt wishes to Mr. Bhatt and reaffirm our commitment to advocating for his release.
Free Sanjiv Bhatt.