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Fight for 2002 Gujarat riot victims, others "main reason" behind human rights leader's bail plea rejection: CJP

By Our Representative
The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Mumbai-based human rights organization run by prominent social activist Teesta Setelvad, has suggested that the refusal of the Ahmedabad sessions court to grant her bail in a Rs 1.4 crore embezzlement case, is linked with her recent fight for justice in "courts and beyond", in cases ranging from those related with the 2002 Gujarat riots to the campaign to free "innocent" Dalit activists like Chandreshekhar Azad, who is in a UP jail.
Close on the heels of the Ahmedabad court judgment, CJP said, the organization will "appeal the Naroda Patiya judgement, carry the Zakia Jafri case forward, fight in the courts against the false cases on Adivasi forest dwellers claiming land and protesting it being snatched away, and will continue our campaign to free innocent Dalit Activists like Chandreshekhar Azad."
In the Naroda Patiya case, worst of all Gujarat riots of 2002 in which 97 persons were killed, an ex-minister in the Gujarat government, Maya Kodnani was acquitted by the Gujarat High Court, the Zakia Jafri case relates to challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi's innocence in 2002 riots case. Jafri's husband, an ex-Congress MP, was one of the 69 killed during the riots in yet another high profile case fought by Setalvad -- Gulbarg Society.
Calling the sessions court order result of an "attack from a vindictive state", CJP said, she and her husband, Javed Anand, are victims of "their relentless attempt to silence and incarcerate fearless human rights defenders. They have exposed the criminal activities of a section of the Gujarat police and of powerful politicians during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat." Anand's bail plea was rejected along with that of Setalvad.
The statement regretted, "Even after the Bombay High Court granted them transit bail and the Supreme Court extended protection until May 31 for a completely false case accusing them of fund embezzlement, their application for anticipatory bail was rejected by the sessions court. This poses a serious threat to their life and liberty."
Rejecting the bail petition, the court observed, “No discretionary relief at this juncture can be granted. If the application is allowed, then the faith of the public in administration of justice is likely to be shaken. Looking to the several factors pertaining to the applicants-accused, like larger interest of the public and society, it would lead to the conclusion that the application is required to be rejected.”
Meanwhile, Setalvad and Anand, her husband, have challenged the order in the Gujarat High Court.
The matter pertains to a case against Setalvad and Anand where it is alleged that thry used fraudulent means to obtain funds for the Mumbai-based education NGO Khoj under the Government of India's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and then misappropriated them. The Khoj project began in 2010 and got over before January 2014 when the bank accounts were frozen due to another case based on allegations made against Setalvad and Anand by an ex-CJP employee.
According to CJP, "The only evidence of alleged embezzlement is in the bank accounts. If the accounts in question are frozen, how exactly can Setalvad tamper with evidence? This is just a ploy to get police custody. Normally custodial interrogation is not required in cases such as this. Therefore, there is a very real possibility of misuse of this custody to use coercive tactics like torture and intimidation."
It added, "Setalvad and Anand, both office bearers of CJP, have been targeted multiple times since 2014. Setalvad has had to seek anticipatory bail to avoid custodial torture nine times. This has not stopped them from pursuing a passionate and rigorous human rights agenda. CJP will continue to provide legal aid to the survivors of the Gujarat 2002 genocide."
The Khoj case was filed by Rais Khan, a former employee of CJP, who has since been nominated to the Central Waqf Council. "Lawyers who have appeared for Khan include those who are on the rolls of the Gujarat state and government. In this case, too, Khan first tried to goad the CBI and the Ministry of Human Resources Department, Government of India, into launching this witch hunt but when that did not work, went to his preferred forum, the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad", said CJP.

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