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Govt must abandon its hostile and vindictive stance towards human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad, others

By Dipak Dholakia*
CBI raids on July 14, 2015 at the premises of social activist Teesta Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand, Gulam Mohammed Peshimam and office of Sabrang Communications and Publishing in Mumbai were undertaken for purely vindictive reasons, given the assurances of complete cooperation and submission of thousands of pages of documents to the CBI.
It is by now an open secret that activists working for justice and truth with regard to the pogrom called Gujarat riots have earned the hatred and animosity of the Modi government; which does not hesitate to employ official state power to indulge in a witch-hunt.
Setalvad and Anand set up Sabrang Communications and began publishing "Communalism Combat" in 1993, and not after 2002. It was this company that published the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report on the Mumbai communal riots of 1992-93 at a time when the state government would not make it available to the public.
The state has not only failed in its constitutional duty to protect all citizens from unlawful deprivation of life and liberty under Article 21, but is hounding and intimidating all those who seek to uphold human rights and democratic values.
It may also be noted that a senior Public Prosecutor, Rohini Salian, has accused the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of showing a bias in favour of certain persons accused of terrorist crimes. None other than the respected Julio Rebeiro, retired Police Commissioner of Punjab, has asked the public to take serious note of what Salian has alleged.
Furthermore, a Gujarat special judge, Jyotsna Yagnik, stated in May this year that she has received 22 threats since retirement, on account of her role in convicting those responsible for the Naroda Patiya massacre in 2002. Her security cover was not enhanced, but scaled down.
It is also noteworthy that the final hearings in the Zakia Jafri Criminal Revision Application are due to begin on July 27. Jafri seeks to make top-level politicians, including the then Gujarat chief minister, and top-level policemen, including the present Commissioner of Police, Shivanand Jha, former joint CP, Crime Branch, AK Sharma (now in the CBI) answerable for criminal and administrative culpability for their role in 2002.
Seen together, in their entirety, the above facts are a cause for grave concern to all Indian citizens. They portend nothing less than an undeclared Emergency. Lovers of democracy should resist the ruthless campaign of intimidation unleashed against Sabrang Communications.
The Union Government should abandon its hostile and vindictive stance towards human rights defenders and concentrate on upholding the rule of law and providing justice to innocent Indian citizens who have fallen victim to bloodthirsty communal politics.
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*The People's Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS), Delhi

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