Congress leader Hardik Patel, two party MLAs and around 27 of their supporters were on Wednesday detained while they were on way to Palanpur district jail in Gujarat to meet sacked IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, police said.
Bhatt, who was in June awarded life sentence in a custodial death case, is currently lodged at the Palanpur district jail. Hardik Patel, the Patidar quota agitation spearhead who joined the Congress earlier this year ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, was detained as soon as he and other party leaders entered Palanpur to go to the jail to meet Bhatt, Banaskantha Superintendent of Police Pradip Shejul rpt Pradip Shejul said.
"We were expecting law and order issues at the jail in Palanpur, so we detained around 30 people, including Hardik Patel, Congress MLAs from Palanpur and Patan and their supporters, when they entered Palanpur to go to the sub-jail to meet Bhatt," he said.
The two MLAs who have been detained are Mahesh Patel of Palanpur and Kirit Patel of Patan. The sacked IPS officer's wife Shweta Bhatt on Tuesday announced she will accompany her husband's supporters (most of them women), who wanted to tie 'rakhi' to him, to Palanpur jail, the police official said.
"Hardik Patel said he will also accompany her. While Sanjiv Bhatt's wife has been allowed to go to meet him as she is a family member, we have detained the others," he informed.
Sanjiv Bhatt was in June this year awarded life sentence in a custodial death case dating back to 1990 when he was posted as an additional superintendent of police in Jamnagar district. On September 5, 2018, he was arrested in another case, where he is accused of falsely implicating a man for alleged possession of drugs in Palanpur in 1996. The trial in the case continues. Some people recently launched a social media campaign in his support and sought rakhis, which they said will be handed over to him.
The Gujarat-cadre officer was suspended from the Indian Police Service in 2011 and sacked by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in August 2015 on grounds of "unauthorized absence from service". In 2012, his wife unsuccessfully contested the state Assembly poll on Congress' ticket against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Maninagar constituency in Ahmedabad. Sanjiv Bhatt made headlines when he alleged in an affidavit before the Supreme Court that after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002, Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, at a meeting asked senior police officers to let the majority community vent its anger.
The Special Investigation Team appointed by the apex court to investigate the 2002 riots concluded that Bhatt, being a very junior officer then, was not present at the meeting.