Saturday, April 05, 2014

Gujarat riots: Participants in Ahmedabad meet decry effort to harass human rights activist Teesta Setalvad

rotest against efforts to harass Setalvad outside the hall
By Our Representative
A meeting of survivors of the 2002 Gujarat riots and citizens, organised at the Mehdi Jung Hall Paldi, Ahmedabad, by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Ahmedabad, saw participants in the jam-packed hall calling for social boycott of those who are posing themselves as witnesses to the case filed against top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad in a Gujarat court for alleged misappropriation of the funds of the NGO she is heading for purposes other than fighting cases of riot victims.
Setelvad has been fighting cases of Gujarat riot victims, and is backing Zakia Jafri, wife of ex-Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who died during the attack on Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad. Jafri seeking court permission to file an FIR against chief minister Narendra Modi for inciting rioting, in which her husband was hacked to death. At the meet, several speakers said, two former employees of Citizens for Peace and Justice (CJP), who filed cases against Setalvad, should be face "social boycott", amidst a strong approving applause from the 1,000 strong crowd.
Sairabehn Sandhani addressing the meet
The case relates to alleged diversion of funds meant for building a riots museum at the Gulberg Society, which was the target of attack during the riots, leading to the death of 69 persons, for personal gains. Setalvad has denied the charges, has said the case is being built up at the behest of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in order to divert attention from the appeal in the Gujarat high court to file case against Modi. The appeal seeks seeks rejection of the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) team report, which has said there is "not enough evidence" to prove Modi was involved.
Among those who spoke included former BJP chief minister Sureshbhai Mehta, who called for caution instead of getting swayed by emotion in the fight for communal peace, former DGP RB Sreekumar, Jesuit human rights activist Cedric Prakash, social activist Sofia Khan, and a survivor of the Gulberg massacre, Sairabehn Sandhi. Sandhi, who had lost several of her relatives in the Gulberg Society massacre, said there was "no truth" in the allegations against Setelvad, levelled by the ex-employees, who were allegedly "bribed" to go against the top activist.
The jampacked hall
In a statement from Mumbai, Setelvad said, “The cost of the struggle for dignity, justice and reparation, personal and material, is high. Twelve years down our success rate is 117 life imprisonments in major 2002 carnage cases, monitored by the Supreme Court where witness  protection is still being given.”
She underlined, “In all cases (except the Bilqees Bano case in which 12 were convicted) CJP's team has been directly involved working with survivor eye witnesses, getting threatened and maligned. To top it all is the Zakia Jafri vs  Narendra Modi and Others case, now pending hearing in appeal in the Gujarat High Court.”
Setelvad recently got anticipatory bail from the Gujarat high court against her arrest in the misappropriation case. 

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