Monday, April 6, 2015

Witch Hunt Classic

Teesta Setalvad victim of witch-hunt, say activists
Omar Rashid

‘Facts twisted in an effort to malign her work’

Terming corruption charges against Teesta Setalvad baseless, civil society on Tuesday stood behind the social activist and her husband Javed Anand.
If BJP president Amit Shah, who faced grievous murder charges in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, could get the luxury of not having to appear before court, why were Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Anand being subjected to a “witch-hunt” over charges of financial corruption, activists in Mumbai asked.
After the Gujarat High Court rejected their anticipatory bail plea on charges of embezzlement of funds meant for the 2002 Gujarat riot victims, the Supreme Court stayed the arrest of Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Anand till February 19. “There is no doubt in my mind that the persecution is because of the work they have done in bringing the guilty to book. It is our duty to see that the witch-hunt doesn’t go on,” said noted documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan.
The activists, who included Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, cited a number of criminal cases pursued by Ms. Setalvad’s NGO in Gujarat, including the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 riots. .
Pointing to a worrying trend for social activism under the Narendra Modi government, Mr. Gandhi said the state was sending the strong message that “if you stand up for rights, honesty or ethics, you will be persecuted.”
Mr. Gandhi also expressed concern over Ms. Setalvad’s safety if she were to go into custody. Pointing to the hate campaign against Ms. Setalvad on social media, Mr. Gandhi said he faced a barrage of obscene response after he tweeted in her support
“Will the government ensure their safety? From the people who are in jail due to the efforts of Teesta and Anand? As we can see in Gujarat, the accused have been rewarded. How does the state ensure that it doesn’t fall prey to such strong-arm tactics?”

Support pours in for social activists Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand

| Age Correspondent| mumbai
Social activists, journalists and filmmakers came forward in support of activist couple Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand and questioned why their judicial interrogation was necessary as demanded by the Gujarat police.
Ms Setalvad and Mr Anand have been alleged to have been involved in financial fraud and the Supreme Court, till February 19, has stayed their arrest. Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, writer Tushar Gandhi, activist Sandhya Gokhale and journalist Dilip D’Souza held a press conference to appeal to the people to support Ms Setalvad and Mr Anand on Tuesday.
Pointing at the differential treatment meted out by the Gujarat court, Mr Patwardhan said, “Amit Shah was implicated in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati encounter cases, but was allowed not to attend court proceedings. However, in the case of Teesta and Anand, the police is demanding judicial interrogation. There is no rule of law in the Gujarat court.”
A complaint was filed in Gujarat, alleging that Subrung Trust and an NGO CJP were involved in the fraudulent use of donations worth Rs 4.32 lakh meant for the Museum of Resistance in memory of victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots. The couple runs the trust and the NGO. However, Sandhya Gokhale refuted the charges and said the money was still lying unused in the bank. “The funds and expenditure sheet has been given by them, which shows no cheating at all. In fact, the money that was not used for the museum is still lying in the banks. All the papers pertaining to it have been given to the police,” she said.
Questioning the intention of the Gujarat police, Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, said the move is threatening to the democratic fabric of the country. “We are seeing tyranny being unleashed on the pretext of legal action. If the police arrests Teesta and Anand, will they ensure protection to the victims of riots?,” he said, referring to their NGO’s work in getting the guilty convicted. He said he was subjected to abusive reactions for tweeting in favour of the couple in the case. Mr D’Souza made it clear that they were not against the police probe, but raised doubts over the necessity for custodial interrogation.

Scribes express solidarity with Teesta Setalvad

NNWN / New Delhi,2015-02-17,13:16:21
The Gujarat Police's move to arrest Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, which was stalled by the Supreme Court, was criticized by the participants at a discussion held at the Press Club of India in Delhi on Monday. The arrest of the couple was stayed by the Supreme Court till February 19, the participants said that the move was nothing but "the harassment and victimization" of activists fighting for justice in the Gujarat carnage cases. It's a warning to all about "the consequences of speaking up", said the participants. In fact, this  was the consensus at the meeting where participants expressed solidarity with Setalvad and Anand, both of whom are activists as well as journalists.
Participating in the discussion, the speakers questioned the Gujarat Police's insistence on "custodial interrogation".  Senior advocate Indira Jaising stated that there was no need for custodial interrogation as "the primary evidence" in the case involving allegations of cheating and breach of trust was "documentary".  The speakers also deplored the manner in which the case had been booked. Since their earlier attempts to "frame" Setalvad in the Best Bakery and illegal exhumation cases had been rebuffed by the Supreme Court in 2004 and 2012, the Gujarat Police, Jaising alleged, filed the embezzlement case in February 2014 after the SIT report exonerating Narendra Modi had been endorsed by a magistrate in Ahmedabad. Whatever the motives behind the case booked in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Setalvad and Anand were opposing not the investigation but the demand for custodial interrogation. Press Club president Anand Sahay raised concerns about the manner in which sections of the media were "distorting" the facts involved.  The editor of a Hindi daily, Om Thanvi, found it "suspicious" that the Gujarat Police landed up at Setalvad's residence in Mumbai within minutes of the Gujarat high court's rejection of her anticipatory bail plea.

Activists fear for Teesta, Javed's life if arrested

Last Updated: Tue, Feb 17, 2015 18:57 hrs
In the photo from left: Tushar Gandhi, Dilip D'souza, Anand Patwardhan and Sandhya Gokhale at the press conference to express solidarity with Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. Photo by: Satyen K Bordoloi
“If they get arrested, how will we ensure that they will be protected from those who they have put in jail,” asked writer Tushar Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi at a packed press conference at the Press Club, Mumbai. The conference was called by civil society to present evidence to prove the innocence of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand against cases which they claimed was fabricated.
On February 12, 2015 the High Court of Gujarat passed an order denying anticipatory bail to Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand in the matter of an FIR pertaining to misappropriation of funds from an NGO they worked for and filed by the Gujarat police against them.

A special leave petition was filed before the Supreme Court of India against the said order within hours after which the court granted them interim relief and the matter will be further heard on 19th February 2015.

"Teesta and Javed have fully cooperated with the investigations. They have appeared before the Ahmedabad police twice. They have furnished 15,000 vouchers of all the expenses made by Sabrang trust. They have even put all the evidence in the public domain for all to see and judge. One wonders why the Gujarat Police still wants them in custody. We fear there is ulterior motive in this arrest because if they wanted proof they have it all," said activist Sandhya Gokhale.

Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan alleged that the Modi government is bent on punishing them for their "exemplary work" in getting those responsible for violence in Gujarat 2002, behind bars. Insinuating the hand of the Modi government in this case, he said, "Since Modi has become PM, many accused jailed in false encounter cases by the courts, have been coming out. Some have got bail, others have been promoted. On the other hand Javed and Teesta have been punished. It is our duty to stand by Teesta and Javed and prevent this witch hunt and also ensure that the guilty of Gujarat 2002 are punished."

Writer Dilip D'souza drew parallels with the case of Dr. Binayak Sen of Chhattisgarh. Giving example of a government’s own document found in Binayak’s computer which the police presented as irrefutable evidence against him, Dilip said, "So thin was the evidence against Binayak Sen that they had to make it up. They thought they could get away and they did. These have taught me to be terminally suspicious of every evidence. It is our duty as citizens to view evidence suspiciously and I would urge us all to examine the evidence presented by the police well."

Tushar Gandhi was direct in his criticism of the ruling government. "I am from a generation that remembers the Emergency well. At least Indira Gandhi had the decency of proclaiming Emergency before unleashing her tyranny. Today it is being unleashed without warning. This case is an opportunity to sound an alarm before we slip down into another emergency like situation."

A powerpoint presentation with charts and figures was shown to the press which gave details of the money Teesta and Javed have been accused of embezzling. “The money that is said to have been appropriated by the two is all there with the NGO, fully intact,” said Tushar Gandhi.

(Satyen K Bordoloi is an independent film critic, writer and photojournalist based in Mumbai. His writings on cinema, culture and politics have appeared nationally and globally.)

Teesta, husband are innocent: Activists

Wednesday, February 18, 2015
By A Staff Reporter
Activists support Teesta Setalvad and husband Javed Anand, whom the Gujarat Police wants to arrest
At a press conference organised by the NGO, Hum Azaadiyon Ke Haq Mein against the Gujarat Police's move to arrest Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, it was unanimously decided that the arrest is harassment and victimisation of activists fighting for justice for the Gujarat carnage victims.

The activists expressed solidarity with Setalvad and Anand, both of whom are activists as well as journalists. They also said that this is a warning for people who come forward to speak up about injustice.

Tushar A. Gandhi, activist and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi said, “Justice should be served, the amount of the account which the Gujarat Police has held them for is wrong and the current figures which have been disclosed to the police are also included in the account. The treatment given to Setalvad and Javed is threatening and a clear indication that if we come forward and speak out, our mouths will be shut. Have we entered an era where we cannot live in an  environment of justice? There have been numerous fake encounters in Gujarat and those who were arrested for the same are being released one by one.”

In January 2014, a complaint was filed by former residents of Gulberg Society, and the Gujarat police had booked Feroze Khan Pathan, Teesta Setalvad and others for allegedly taking away Rs.1.51 crore collected for a riot museum.

Residents had also said they were restrained from selling their property on the promise that NGOs would buy them. Citing lack of funds, the promise was not fulfilled.

Setalvad and her NGO 'Citizens for Justice and Peace' were vocal in bringing the Gujarat riot cases to the Supreme Court. In the Best Bakery case, the apex court had indicted the then Modi government of Gujarat as 'Modern day Neros' who looked the other way when the Best Bakery was burning.

Teesta’s supporters say Gujarat cops on witch hunt

MUMBAI: A group of social activists have called the Gujarat police's insistence on taking Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand in custody as witch-hunt. Setalvad and Anand, through their NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), had secured convictions of several accused, including some senior police officers, in Gujarat riots (2002) and fake encounter cases and, therefore, the activists alleged, the Gujarat police wants to arrest them and send a message to everyone who dares to question injustice and atrocities perpetrated on citizens. The Gujarat police wants to take Setalvad and Anand in custody to question the alleged embezzlement of funds collected for a museum in memory of victims of the Gujarat carnage 2002. The SC has granted them interim bail till February 19 and the activists feared physical harm to the duo if they were denial further bail and sent in police custody. "This is witch hunt and it must stop," they demanded.

"It is wrongly charged that Teesta and Javed embezzled the funds received for a museum at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad while the truth is that the total amount of Rs 4.6 lakh received for the museum fund is intact. None of the authorities like income tax, home ministry, charity commissioner, auditors or donor agencies ever alleged any irregularities in the accounts submitted by Sabrang Trust and CJP," said Sandhya Gokhale of Hum Azaadiyon Ke Haq Mein which organized the press conference on Tuesday. She also alleged that the Gujarat police have aggressively pursued the "embezzlement" case ever since a magistrate court gave clean chit to then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in the case filed by Zaki Jaffery, wife of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jaffery who was killed along with 69 others in Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002.

"Sever senior police officers involved in fake encounter cases went to jail because of the sustained fights Teesta and Javed carried. Now many of them are out on bail and some of them reinstated and promoted. We appeal to people to rise against harassment of voices of justice and peace," said film-maker Anand Patwardhan.

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