Friday, June 17, 2016

Gujarat govt had complained: Teesta met junior UN officials for "anti-India" propaganda abroad, used foreign funds

By Our Representative
Top social activist Teesta Setalvad has described the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order to cancel Foreign Currency Regulation Act (FCRA) license of her NGO Sabrang Trust as a clear case of vendetta. Setalvad, it is well-known, has been fighting 2002 Gujarat riots cases, including the Gulberg Society case, whose final verdict was pronounced on Friday.
Saying that the MHA move suggests “a very clear nexus” in which the Gujarat police has failed, in February 2015, to get her custody, as the Supreme Court stayed her arrest (February 12 and 19, 2015), Setalvad said, immediately thereafter the Gujarat home department wrote specifically to the MHA alleging “violations” by the Sabrang Trust.
“What began under Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi (January 2014 when the FIR was first lodged against Tanvir Jafri, Firoz Pathan, Salim Sandhi, Javed Anand and myself) has two years later become the ground for vindictive action against us (Javed Anand, Teesta Setalvad) under the MHA under Modi”, she said.
Pointing out that “this is critical to understand”, Setalvad said, “The deliberate attempt to embellish observations between the time the MHA team first came and the final notice is given is nothing short of a sinister vilification and defamatory campaign.”
Apart from referring to other “violations” regarding alleged misappropriation of funds by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, the Gujarat home department letter talked of how they “visited Pakistan, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, UK and USA and attended workshops, seminars and conferences where they deliberately portrayed India and Indian government in bad light.”
The letter said, they questioned the “secular credentials of the country, which is akin to foreign governments/NGOs and building opinions against the Indian government, seeking foreign help in the matter which are under active consideration of various courts, including the honourable apex court.”
The letter further said they had meetings with “even junior officials of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)” -- all this, it believes, amounts to “promoting anti-India propaganda on foreign lands and international fora”.
The Gujarat home department said all this even as blaming Ford Foundation for funding Setalvad and Anand for their “anti-India” activities, even as seeking Government of India review of the top US-based philanthropic organisation. Interestingly, ahead of the recent Modi visit to US, it was conveyed to the Ford Foundation that all restrictions placed on it on foreign funding were removed.
Other accusations in the letter, repeated in nearly all earlier probes, included Javed Anand and Teesta Setalvad being co-editors of “Communalism Combat” magazine, published by Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL), which was allegedly funded by Sabrang Trust, which in turn received foreign funds. They were also accused of “writing for other periodicals and newspapers, utilizing funds for personal gains, and so on.”
In her reply, Setalvad has variously said that Sabrang Trust and SCPPL are two separate entitiies, and that the publication was registered under PRB Act, 1867, and they have full right to work as correspondent, columnist, editor, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper.
“It is Sabrang Trust, the association granted registration under FCRA, which is prohibited from publishing or acting as correspondent, columnist, editor, etc. Nowhere does the letter place any restriction or prohibition on any of its board members or office bearers being publishers, editors, printers, etc. of a registered newspaper run by some other independent legal entity”, she points out at one place.

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