Skip to main content

Gujarat PUCL comes down heavily on media for "inflating" misappropriation charge against Teesta Setalvad

A Mumbai protest against Setalvad
By Our Representative
In what may seem to be a surprise move to many, Gujarat unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) made the occasion of a press conference called in “defense” of well-known human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand to sharply attack the media for allegedly blowing Gujarat police accusations against the two activists on misappropriating NGO funds "completely out of proportion". Addressing mediapersons, Gujarat PUCL chief Gautam Thaker, who led the attack, said, “It was shocking to see such unprecedented interest in the media. Some papers went so far as to make eight column headlines.”
Thaker said, “We are not here to defend anyone. But the way the police acted by knocking on the door of Setalvad in Mumbai to arrest Setalvad and Anand within hours of the Gujarat High Court denying anticipatory bail to them suggests the state government wants to create an atmosphere of fear among activists. Clearly, the police want her to torture her.” He added, “This is not an isolated incident. Arrests and detentions of activists have become a norm. Anybody is picked up from anywhere in the name of safeguarding law and order.”
Suggesting that all this has not been highlighted by the media, Thaker said, “Curfew is imposed at any drop of the hat. Things have reached such a point that activists are being picked up under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act, which is meant to be imposed on those seeking to create social unrest such as communal riots.” Pointing out that effort to harass Setalvad should be seen in this context, he added, “If there are allegations against Setalvad, they should be appropriately investigated, but not in this way.”
Taking a similar view, even as criticizing the media, Hiren Gandhi of Insaf, another rights-based organization, said, “There is an effort to come up with false cases against activists. They are being harassed here, in Mithi Virdi, where the Government of India plans a nuclear plant, everywhere. If there misappropriation by someone, it should be properly investigated. And media should not blow things out of proportion.” The PUCL press meet was the only "protest" against Gujarat police, and in the state in favour of Setalvad, by state-based activists in the recent past.
Well-known danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, present on the occasion, came out in sharp defense of Setalvad, saying, “Gujarat government has begun a virtual witch hunt against the human rights activist. I have also gone through a similar witch hunt. Non-bailable warrant was issued against me by charging me of misappropriating funds. It was political against me, it is political against Setalvad. Why is there on investigate on politicians who do hundreds of crores of corruption, and face murder charges, when here it’s question of just Rs 4 lakh.”
Father Cedric Prakash of Prashant said, one point being raised is that trustees of the Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ) had no knowledge of the funds being spent by Setalvad and Anand though they were meant for riot victims. Reading out a statement on behalf of all the trustees – who include IM Kadri, Nandan Maluste, Cyrus Guzder, Alyque Padamsee, Anil Dharker, Shankuntala Kulkarni, Rahul Bose and he – Prakash said, they stood by Setalvad during “these difficult times” and have no doubt about her “honesty and integrity”.
Speaking on the occasion, Sairaben, one of the riot victims who lived in the Gulberg Society when it was attacked by rioters in 2002, said, “Even today, we being treated like culprits. Even on smallest of pretext, the police detains my husband. We are made to take the permission of the police to visit our houses in the Gulberg Society for our religious rites.” She added, “All through the last more than 12 years, Setalvad has stood by us. How can we side with those who are trying to put charges of misappropriation against her?” 

Comments

TRENDING

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Gender budgeting? Govt of India allocates just 2.1%, 0.73% for SC, ST women

By Rajiv Shah
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), one of the most influential all-India Dalit rights networks, has taken strong exception to the manner in which the Government of India has undermined Gender Responsive Budgeting in the Union Budget 2019-20 for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), pointing towards “wide gaps” between the goals and the situational reality of “the Dalit and Adivasi women on the ground.”

Polygamy in India "down" in 45 yrs: Muslims' from 5.7 to 2.55%, Hindus' 5.8 to 1.77%, "common" in SCs, STs

By Rajiv Shah
Amidst All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) justifying polygamy, saying it “meets social and moral needs and the provision for it stems from concern and sympathy for women”, facts suggest the the practice is down from 5.7 per cent of Muslim families in 1961 to 2.55 per cent in 2006.