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Compliant against us filed with "malafide" intention to undermine justice to Gujarat riot victims: Teesta

By Our Representative
Close on the heels of the Ahmedabad crime branch registering FIR against well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and her colleagues for “breach of trust, cheating and conspiracy” by refusing to convert the Gulbarg society into a riots museum, Setalvad has accused the FIR “a deliberate campaign to vilify the efforts to procure justice for the victims of the carnage of 2002 that has been sustained and supported by vested powerful interests in Gujarat.” The Gulberg society massacre saw murder of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri and tens of others who lived in the colony on February 28. In a statement, Setalvad said, the FIR has been filed with “mala fide attempts to embroil us in false cases before the Gujarat police.”
In a letter to AK Sharma, joint commissioner of police, crime, Ahmedabad, Setalvad and the trustees of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CSJ) and the Sabrang Trust – some of who have been named in the FIR – have said, “We have been given to understand that some persons claiming to be official representatives of the Gulberg society have written to you making false and mala fide allegations against our organization that has been assisting survivors of the Gujarat genocide of 2002 to access justice. CJP has been assisting dozens of survivors of the Gujarat 2002 carnage and have been co-petitioners in the Zakia Jafri case against chief minister Narendra Modi and 61 others in the protest petition to be filed by April 15, 2013.”
The letter says, “Official representatives of the Gulberg society have already written to you stating that the letterhead of the society has been forged by some residents and the claims being made by them are patently false since nothing has been parted from them. The false claim that CJP has raised Rs 63 lakh and Sabrang Trust has raised Rs 88 lakh for the purpose of the construction of the museum, nationally and internationally, is a total lie. CJP has never sought nor received any money for this purpose.”
Setalvad explains, “Till November 2012, Sabrang Trust had received a total donation in of Rs 4,10,285 from donors within India and Rs 50,000 from one individual overseas for the proposed dream museum. This is a matter between our donors and the Trust which we will address when a final decision on the issue is made. All other funds, nationally and internationally raised, have been funds legitimately collected for activities that we publicly engage in. Our accounts are audited and submitted to the relevant authorities.”
The letter further says, “At no point have any of the organizations that we are connected to claimed any amount or money or land from any person residing at or claiming to be part of Gulberg society. Survivors of the carnage and we did have dreams of a Gulberg Memorial commemorating the state-sponsored carnage. This idea emerged in 2007, but finally had to be abandoned when prices for real estate spiraled. A formal resolution of the society was passed, leaving the members free to sell off their properties as per law. In no way have either CJP or Sabrang cheated them or let down the society.”
“We believe that with the date of the filing of Zakia Jafri's protest petition draws near, this charade is being orchestrated by a nexus of vested interests to create a diversion and to malign CJP and Sabrang Trust. The cases being handled by us involve the most powerful in the state and relate to public justice and it appears that some vested interests have colluded to make false allegations and distract us from the onerous and dangerous task at hand”, the letter underlines.
Calling the FIR as nothing but “part of a sinister campaign”, the letter says, it has been “unleashed against us by some persons being manipulated by a former employee Rais Khan Pathan, who is using some residents of the society (not official members), and sections of the police and some persons claiming to be official members of the society.” It adds, “By unleashing this set of manipulated lies and using sections of the police towards this end, the dubious nexus of these persons with a former employee and the powerful in the state of Gujarat are trying to de-rail the proposed protest petition.”
Referring to Rais Khan Pathan’s earlier petition before the Foreign Currency Regulations department, the letter points out, “Our organisation and its role has been repeatedly exonerated and recognised for assisting the legal struggle of poor witnesses.” It adds, “The Supreme Court has already stayed two such malicious complaints in which even sections of the Gujarat police have played a role siding openly with Rais Khan Pathan. The matters are pending final hearing.”
Urging upon the Crime Branch of the Gujarat Police to looksat “the complete background and nexus when it deals with the current set of false allegations”, the letter says, “We would like to reiterate that our organizations function lawfully and urge that this mala fide complaint is not made a manipulative tool by the Crime Branch. Any genuine investigations or inquiries our trustees would gladly respond to.” The letter has been signed by IM Kadri, president, CJP, Raghunandan Maluste, vice president, Teesta Setalvad, secretary, CJP, and Nakul Mehta, trustee, Sabrang Trust.

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