The day after Gujarat police arrested journalist and civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former police official R.B Sreekumar, protestors gathered in parts of the country to demand their immediate release.

In Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, around 300 people including civil society members, teachers, activists, politicians and students condemned the Supreme Court's order recommending legal action against the prosecutors of the Zakia Jafri case and the subsequent arrests, and demanded that the court review its decision in the case, which argues that the 2002 pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat was organised by the state.

On Friday, the Supreme Court upheld the 2011 findings of a Special Investigation Team headed by former CBI director R.K Raghavan that absolved Narendra Modi, who was appointed chief minister months before the mass violence in Gujarat, of any involvement in the violence.

It noted that the charge of criminal conspiracy against government figures couldn't be proven, and added that Setalvad was "vindictively persecuting this lie for her ulterior design by exploiting the emotions and sentiments of the appellant – Zakia Ahsan Jafri, the real victim of the circumstances."

In a move termed unprecedented by legal experts, the court further said that "all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law."

The bench of Justices A.M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T Ravikumar had reserved their judgment in the case last December. The court is on vacation till 11 July.

The day after the order, an inspector in the Ahmedabad police reportedly filed an FIR against Setalvad, Sreekumar and former Gujarat cop Sanjiv Bhatt who is already in jail on separate charges. Bhatt had testified against Modi to the Special Investigation Team, and Supreme Court appointed amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran had reportedly submitted to the court that there was enough evidence to prosecute Modi.

Union home minister Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi's was seen on several television channels before the arrests citing the court's Friday judgment and reportedly accusing Setalvad of providing "baseless information" about the violence to the police.

Hours later, Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat police anti-terrorism squad from her Mumbai residence, while Sreekumar was arrested in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Condemning the arrests, over 2,000 people from various parts of the country and the world released a statement calling for their immediate release. The signatories include theatre and film actor Shabana Azmi, rights activist Aakar Patel, noted activist Shabnam Hashmi, and former diplomat Madhu Bhaduri among others.

The statement reads, "The judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Zakia Jafri v State of Gujarat, dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri calling for an investigation into the conspiracy to hatch the events resulting in communal violence following the Godhra train burning, deepens the sense of injustice and marks a moment of profound hurt and loss as far as all those who care about constitutional values. The Supreme Court not only dismissed the idea that there was a conspiracy to commit the crimes of murder, rape and destruction of property, but instead went further and took to task those who sought to ensure justice for the communal hate crimes following the Godhra incident."

"It seeks to deter citizens from holding the state accountable for enabling violence in future and in effect conveys that the state can do no wrong. If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, you open yourself up to arrest and criminalisation. This is the implicit message going out to all in Indian civil society, to the public at large and the Gujarat Judiciary before which there are ongoing criminal cases of the violence of 2002 in the various courts of the state."

"We condemn this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalize those who stand for constitutional values and who have struggled against very difficult odds to try to achieve justice for the victims of 2002."

Meanwhile, an Ahmedabad court has granted the Ahmedabad police crime branch remand till July 2 to interrogate Setalvad and Sreekumar. The state government has also formed a new SIT to investigate their role, based on the charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy mentioned in the FIR, which also cites the Supreme Court judgment.