Three days after activist Teesta Setalvad was arrested for allegedly making false allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case reached Mumbai to conduct a search of her residence. However, the team had to return empty-handed, as they had come without any warrant or requisite documents.
Setalvad was picked up from her Santacruz residence on June 26 and placed under arrest after the Supreme Court gave Modi a clean chit in connection with the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat. The apex court had passed strictures against her as well as former Gujarat cops RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt in its judgement. Setalvad and Sreekumar are currently in the Gujarat police's custody.
According to police sources, the team reached Santacruz at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday and sought assistance from the Santacruz police. Accordingly, a constable was provided to them and they proceeded to Setalvad's residence.
"The Gujarat police, however, did not have a warrant to search Setalvad's house. Her lawyer learned about this and rushed to her residence," a senior Mumbai Police officer said.
After a face-off that lasted for over an hour, the Gujarat police team finally relented and left the scene.
Senior police inspector Balasaheb Tambe, Santacruz police station confirmed that the team had come to Mumbai and added that they returned without conducting the search. Tambe refused to reveal the reason, saying, "There were some technical issues but it is best if this question is asked to the Gujarat police."
The Free Press Journal contacted Deputy Inspector General Deepan Bhadran, who is heading the SIT.
"It is an ongoing investigation and we can not comment on it," was all Bhadran said before ending the call.
Setalvad and Sreekumar have been charged with giving or fabricating false evidence, forgery for purpose of cheating, and using forged documents as genuine and criminal conspiracy of the Indian Penal Code.