Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gujarat cops' move against top rights activist: Anticipatory bail plea in High Court postponed till July 9

By Our Representative
Gujarat High Court hearing in the anticipatory bail applications of top human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand and three survivors of the 2002 Gulberg Society massacre of Gujarat, Tanvir Jafri, Salim Sandhi and Firoz Gulzar Pathan has been postponed till July 9, 2014. This happened, according to a statement issued by Setalvad’s NGO Centre for Justice and Peace (CJP), following a 96 page counter affidavit “complete with detailed records from audited accounts and bank statements disproving baseless allegations made by the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad.”
In early January 2014, the crime branch of the Gujarat police filed an FIR leveling criminal charges against Setalvad and others alleging misappropriation of NGO funds for “personal gain.” This was followed by the cops’ instructions to IDBI and UBI to freeze the accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust, the NGOs she heads. The statement adds, the whole effort of the Gujarat cops was “to financially cripple the ongoing legal battle for justice to the victims and punishment to the perpetrators and masterminds of the state-sponsored 2002 mass crimes in Gujarat.”
In their affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court, Setalvad and Anand referred to reports filed by the auditors of CJP and Sabrang Trust with the crime branch, Ahmedabad, affirming that the allegation of embezzlement of funds by the two “were totally baseless”. The 96-page affidavit points out to “gaping holes in the repeated and equally baseless fresh allegations made by the crime branch in its June 13, 2014 affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court.”
The affidavit, the statement says, debunks the claims of the crime branch that as much as 45% of the donations collected by the trusts went into their personal accounts. Saying that there is not “a shred of evidence that Setalvad and Anand have pocketed away crores of rupees collected by the two trusts”, adding, when the auditors of the two trusts clarified that this was not true, the Gujarat police alleged they, too, were in “connivance” with the trust.
Pointing out that “all relevant records such as vouchers/bills, books of account, minute book… were made available to us by the management of CJP for our verification”, the auditors’ report clearly stated that “we have not noticed that the funds of CJP were used by its trustees for the purpose other than its 'Objects'”, the statement said.
The auditors were quoted as saying: “On the basis of information and explanation received and documents examined by us we did not find such alleged embezzlement of funds. The funds received for public purposes from various international donors were spent wholly and exclusively for the purposes for which they were given by the funding agencies”. Also, the auditors said, they did not find any “huge cash withdrawals”, as claimed by the cops.

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