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

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”