Friday, February 13, 2015

Teesta Setalvad case is part of emerging scenario of India's ruling govt "targeting" rights defenders

By Our Representative
The National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), the apex body of tens of people's organizations and NGOs across India, has demanded withdrawal of “false cases” against Teesta Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand and their associates in the by now famous Gulbarg Society Case. Demanding “justice for riot victims and survivors and space and security for human rights defenders", the NAPM, in a strong statement, said, it is “deeply disturbing” that the Gujarat High Court has refused the anticipatory bail applications of rights activists Setalvad and others.
“We strongly feel that the High Court could have meticulously examined the extensive submissions put forth by Teesta, before rejecting the bail application, seeking dropping of charges. We also express our discontent with the sweeping observations (click HERE to read) made in the Order against social justice groups”, the NAPM, in a signed statement by Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and tens of others said.
“Although there is temporary respite with the intervention of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court today, it is a matter of extreme anxiety that ‘armed’ with the High Court’s order, the Gujarat police is keen to immediately arrest Setalvad and others for 'custodial interrogation',” the statement said.
“We hope the Supreme Court will appreciate the overall circumstances of the case, merits of the High Court’s order and observe as to whether at all there is any need for “custodial interrogation” of the bail applicants, at this stage of the legal process”, it pointed out.
The statement recalled, “It has been widely acknowledged that the Setalvad and other activists with the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and the Sabrang Trust withstood the might of the Gujarat state for more than 12 years and fearlessly stood with the victims and survivors of the gruesome riots, since 2002.” It said there is “constant political vendetta by the ruling party, at the behest of communal outfits in the state is no hidden secret.”
“NAPM is also worried at the increasing scenario of the present government targeting rights activists, by making unsubstantiated allegations of financial irregularities and demand a halt to this approach”, the statement said, adding, “We call upon all peace-loving citizens, people’s organizations and political parties to voice their protest and seek fairness and justice to the activists fighting relentlessly for the cause of Gujarat riot victims.”
The statement demanded “full justice and rehabilitation to the riot-survivors who are having for wait endlessly for years from a very ‘concerned state’, which does not see the need of vigilante groups.”

HC order "unfortunate": Cedric Prakash

It is separate statement, Father Cedric Prakash, a Gujarat-based human rights activist, has said it is “extremely unfortunate” that the anticipatory bail application filed by Setalvad, her husband Anand and three others of Gulberg Society – Tanvir Jafri, son of slain MP Ehsan Jafri, Feroz Gulzar, secretary and Salim Sandhi, chairman of the Gulberg Society -- has been rejected by the Gujarat High Court.”
Prakash, who is a trustee of Setalvad-led Citizens for Justice and Peace, said, “All are aware that the charges are extremely flimsy and fabricated and are surely politically motivated. In their response, Setalvad and the others provided the High Court with extensive, comprehensive and irrefutable evidence as to why they should be given anticipatory bail and the charges be dropped.”
“When those who stand up for truth and justice and are human rights defenders are subject to such blatant harassment, intimidation and even arrest, one surely needs to wonder where the country is heading?”, he asked, adding, “We are convinced however that truth and justice will ultimately triumph even if one has to struggle very hard in such a vicious environment.”
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For point-by-point rebuttal of Gujarat police charges by Teesta Setalvad click HERE 

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