teestadefender


Committee for the Defence of Teesta Setalvad and
Justice in Gujarat
Nawab Building, 2nd Floor, 327, Dr. D.N. Road, Mumbai – 400 001

Dt. 23/05/2011


A.) Reason
for the formation of the Committee:


Subversion of Justice is not a new phenomenon in the process of its
administration. The recent turns of events in cases following the
communal carnage of 2002 have borne its maximum brunt. Therefore,
citizens concerned for justice to the victims of Gujarat Carnage
have formed a “Committee for the Defence of Teesta Setalvad and
Justice in Gujarat”. The Committee would undertake appropriate
actions and activities to see that neither Teesta Setalvad nor
anybody else is victimized for working for the cause of justice. The
committee would also defend the human rights of vulnerable sections,
and would include, but not be limited to, monitoring cases slapped
on Teesta Setalvad, to stand in solidarity with her, to bring out
detailed facts before the people pertaining to this selective
victimization of Teesta Setalvad and those fighting for the cause of
justice in Gujarat.

The ultimate
objective is to allow the law and the process of justice to take its
own course without being subverted or influenced by vested
interests. The committee thus in the process will gradually bring
out the truth before the people of this country though statements,
meetings, engagement with the media and all available other
platforms. Thus the committee seeks to address issues not only from
the legal angle but also look at human rights abuses in the wider
ambit of achieving equitable social justice for all.
The Committee is headed by Shri P.B. Sawant (Retd. Justice, Supreme
Court) as the Chairperson. Shri. Suresh Mehta (Fmr. Chief Minister,
Gujarat) and Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer are Vice Chairpersons. Smt.
Romila Thapar, Shri. Irfan Habib, Dr. Ram Puniyani, Shri. Juzer
Bandukwala, Shri. Irfan Engineer, Shri Sukla Sen and many others are
members of the Committee.
The extended meeting of the Committee, including other additional
members is also convened later on 25th May 2011 at 5 p.m. at Bombay
Union of Journalists Hall, Second Floor, Prospect Chambers Annexe,
D.N. Road, Fort, Mumbai.
 


B.) Immediate Concerns:


The malicious and motivated campaign against human rights activist
Teesta Setalvad and the lawyers struggling for justice for the
victims of the genocidal carnage in Gujarat in 2002 is aimed at
distracting the course of public justice and attacking the personal
liberties of human rights activists who have stood by the cause of
truth, and justice. The attack against Teesta Setalvad is three –
pronged, aimed at threatening her personal liberty through arrest, a
widespread disinformation and malicious campaign to affect the
process of justice and distracting her from the demands of the
struggle.

Amongst the many examples of such subversion, following are the
falsified cases against Teesta Setalvad, mentioned herein:

1.) Pandharwada Mass Graves Case – This is amongst the most serious
and imminent cases in which Setalvad is facing harassment by being
falsely implicated in the case. She has been arraigned as
‘absconding accused,’ five years after distraught survivors claimed
bodies of their relatives and moved the courts to establish their
identity. A detailed note on this is attached below. There is also a
strong possibility that the Gujarat Police may try to stage an
arrest of Teesta Setalvad on false grounds in the Pandharwada Mass
Graves Case soon.

In the latest update to this case, Teesta Setalvad has filed a
petition in the Gujarat High Court at Ahmedabad dated 17/05/2011,
against the State of Gujarat & Anr. Seeking to stay proceedings from
offence registered as CR No. I – 3/2006 against her and other
alleged accused in the Pandharwada Mass Graves case. This petition
is due to come up for hearing in the Gujarat High Court on
25/05/2011.

In a nutshell, the background of the case is as follows:
On Dec 27, 2005, the victim survivors of the Pandharwada
Massacre (where officially 27 persons were massacred) who were
frustrated after the studied refusal of the state authorities to
hand back skeletal remains of their dead relatives (which were
dumped illegally by the StateÂ’s Police) began the digging
themselves. The spot where they had been illegally dumped was off
the Paanam River in Lunawada in Godhra district.
For months before they started digging, they had approached the
authorities to dig out their remains. There was no response
whatsoever from the authorities. Frustrated, they started the
digging after having informed some members of the electronic media
as also Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). The CJPÂ’s then
coordinator Rais Khan (who is since not with the organisation
following irregularities since January 2008) contacted its Secretary
in Mumbai. CJP through its Secretary Teesta Setalvad, clearly told
them to wait at the spot till the authorities came. The Collector,
the SP and lawyers were then contacted and the High Court of Gujarat
was moved the next day. The local police, too, was informed by fax,
of the frustration of victims by a senior functionary from
Gandhinagar.

The victims and CJP together moved the Gujarat HC, the next day and
got the prayer granted for DNA sampling of the remains from Red
HILL, Hyderabad. The DNA sampling proved that the victimized
survivors were right. Eight of the 22 skeletal remains were found to
be of the relatives Pandharwada Massacre victims. After the initial
order in the Gujarat HC, which was a breakthrough, a year later, the
Gujarat HC dismissed the victimsÂ’ petition, asking for transfer of
investigation of the massacre to the CBI. Ironically, the
petitioners had pointed out, that the panchnamas related to the
crimes had nowhere mentioned the skeletal remains.

The state has tried to say that, this was never an illegal dumping
but a proper burial on forest land off a river. Legally speaking,
the Panchnama of the original crime of mass murder has not listed
the skeletal remains. Thus, disproving the version of the Gujarat
state and police. Victims and Activists have argued that Lunawada
has a large Kabrastan of more than a hundred acres and hence, if
Gujarat Police could in fact not trace relatives, what was the need
to so dump the remains rather than according them a dignified burial
in the Kabrastan? Why dump them in an obscure spot off the river
rather than give them to community leaders for a dignified burial?

Following its tradition of victimising human rights defenders and
victims, the local police lodged an FIR on Jan 1, 2006 against
victim survivors and Rais Khan of the CJP. CJP gave full legal aid
to them. Subsequently, the bail and so also a stay against their
arrest was granted by the Gujarat High Court. In the interim, Rais
Khan today is no more with the organisation. Eventually, in a
statement recorded under Section 164 CrPC has made false accusations
against Media persons and Teesta Setalvad. He appears to enjoy full
immunity and security within the state of Gujarat. Teesta Setalvad
has since obtained anticipatory bail first from a Mumbai and
thereafter from a Godhra court. This bail order stands. The date of
the Godhra Bail Order was 15. 2. 2011. On March 18, 2011 she
received summons under section 160 of the CrPC, asking her to remain
present at the Lunawada police station for questioning. Since the
section gives a woman the protection of being questioned/examined at
her place of residence, Teesta Setalvad replied immediately, saying
she was prepared to meet the police at her residence in Mumbai.
Suddenly, the Investigating Officer was changed and thereafter a
falsified charge sheet was filed naming her an “absconding accused”
which belied the facts and detailed correspondence with the
authorities.

A second summon was issued to her by the Lunawada Police, listing
her as an accused and asking her to remain present on the 9th May
2011. A third summon has since been issued asking Teesta to remain
present at Lunawada on the 31st May 2011.

Under the law this makes her more vulnerable to arrest. She has
since pointed this out in response to the second and third summons
issued to her, requesting an immediate correction in the charge
sheet filed on the 3rd April 2011 which lists her as an accused.
There has been no response to that and she faces threat of illegal
arrest.

In midst of this propaganda, what is being missed is, despite the
fact that victims through their efforts and the order of the Gujarat
High Court, have established the identity of their dead relatives in
2005-2006, it has taken an order from the Supreme Court (February
2008 and a subsequent order of the Trial Court in December 2008) for
conducting a dignified burial in August 2010, i.e. six years after
the brutal massacre, albeit with no one being allowed to be present
for the burial.

Ironically, the core and substance of false allegations being
levelled today have existed since the genocidal carnage of 2002
carried out by an unrepentant Gujarat government. Absent is any
concern for the lives lost or processes of justice which have been
subverted or perverted. While only the people making allegations
have changed, allegations have remained but the same. Since
September 2010, the agency for dissemination of this malicious
campaign has been a former employee who was asked to leave the
organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) in January 2008.

The patently false allegations of doctoring evidence in various
cases are being orchestrated at a time when crucial trials are
nearing completion and the accused, amongst whom are powerful
politicians and policemen, face charges of criminal conspiracy and
murder. What is at stake is, the conviction of over 350 accused in
nine major trials (Gulberg, Sardarpura, Odh, Naroda Patiya, Naroda
Gaam) that are underway with some nearing completion. Despite
threats of intimidation and repression, eyewitnesses and survivors
have deposed without fear in Gujarat Courts. They have done this
while facing a hostile police and court atmosphere and all this
while, they have stood by the contents of their affidavits filed
through the CJP in the Supreme Court of India. At the heart of this
sustained and malicious campaign is a calculated and cynical desire
by the Gujarat State to derail the course of justice that is being
monitored by the apex court. It wants to ensure the acquittal of the
accused, many of whom are functionaries of the BJP, VHP and Bajrang
Dal and also policemen and administrators. It is an unfortunate fact
that the SIT (Special Investigation Team) appointed for the purpose
of further investigation into these cases has sided, for the most
part, with the arguments of the Gujarat State.

The intensification of malafide allegations is also aimed at
attacking the individuals and the group responsible for sustaining
the criminal investigation currently afoot against top ministers and
officials in the Gujarat Government. Over the past few months, the
apex court has passed orders directing the Amicus Curiae to see if
an offence of conspiracy to commit mass murder and destroy evidence
has been made out against the accused officials and ministers. This
is the result of a complaint, and a tireless legal battle waged by
Zakia Ahsan Jafri and Teesta Setalvad of the Citizens for Justice
and Peace. It is no surprise then, that a government that has acted
vindictively and maliciously against serving and retired IPS and IAS
officers, who have stood by the Indian Constitution, is now training
its guns on activists.

2.) The ongoing Criminal Trials in Naroda Gaam and Sardarpura, in
which she and her organisation have been giving consistent legal aid
to the witnesses and victims
3.) The Yasmeen Shaikh Affidavit in the Bombay High Court – Yasmin
is a witness in Vadodara’s Best Bakery case where 14 people were
burnt alive.She had turned hostile last year. Yasmin Shaikh has
moved the Bombay High Court alleging that Setalvad had influenced
her to testify against the accused. This after the February 2006
judgment in the Best Bakery re-trial that the “the signs of having
been tutored were not found while analyzing the witness evidence’.”
It must be noted here that, Yasmin’s sister in-law Zahira Shaikh, a
prime witness in the Best Bakery case, served a year in prison for
perjury after she turned hostile a second time. She had first turned
hostile in a Gujarat trial court and then in Mumbai.

C.) Additional
Background Information:

The charges in the criminal complaint against the Gujarat Government
are serious. Despite all the efforts of Gujarat Government along
with itÂ’s political mentors and allies to subvert the course of
public justice, preliminary investigations have revealed details of
a high level involvement of the senior officials and politicians, to
have indulged in a series of criminal and unconstitutional acts
which has led to engineering the mass massacre of 2,500 Muslims,
post Godhra destruction. It has also revealed a subsequent
manipulation of evidence and subversion of witnesses.

On March 15 2011, the SC pulled up the SIT saying that evidence
gathered by them does not match with their inferences. On March 20,
21 and 22, the SIT was compelled to record the statement of yet
another serving IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt who has recorded (media
reports tell us) that he was present at a meeting at the Chief
Minister’s residence when the latter clearly said “allow Hindus to
vent their anger against Muslims.” On May 5, 2011 the apex court has
directed the Amicus Curiae to arrive at an assessment of whether or
not a criminal offence is made out, without consulting the SIT.

The allegations against Government of Gujarat, of issuing criminal
instructions to their police officers and thereafter, the illegal
stationing of ministers, in the State and City Police Control Rooms
are substantiated by the macabre violence, killings, rapes and
burnings that were unleashed on Minorities in 19 districts of the
State. The illegal handing over of the bodies of victims of Godhra
Mass Arson to a functionary of a rabid right wing outfit – the
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and not an official of the
administration or police as also the inflammatory media coverage of
the Godhra Incident by leading Gujarati newspapers, further points
at how premeditated the conspiracy actually was.

These allegations and the current investigation are unprecedented in
the history of independent India. Hence, the intimidation in four
separate criminal cases, and consistent threats to Teesta Setalvad
need to be seen in context of the historic inquiry underway. Attacks
on her and other activists are brazen attempts to scuttle the very
process of inquiry and justice.

These attempts at intimidation need to be seen for what they are,
given the seriousness of charges against the Gujarat State and its
functionaries. In 2004 too, after the Best Bakery trial was shifted
to Mumbai a star witness made similar allegations. She had
thereafter to serve a jail term for perjury while those found guilty
of inducing her into falsehood escaped penal punishment.

Making false accusations of doctoring testimonies (FIR lodged under
the IT Act, February 10, 2011), issuing affidavits and also of
instigating victims to exhume the dead bodies of their loved ones
(CR 3/2006), the Gujarat State’s police is using discredited persons
to trump up charges against a person and an organization that has
stood up for nine years in support for the legal battle of
survivors.

After Tehelka’s exposure of the SIT report, The Smoking Gun
(February 10, 2011), IPS officer Rahul Sharma was served with a show
cause notice for placing crucial telephone records before the
Nanavati Shah Commission and the SIT. Clearly, the Gujarat
government is worried that offences could be registered against its
chief functionaries for not only simply aiding a massacre in 2002
but thereafter also destroying evidence and subverting the course of
justice by doing all it can do to intimidate victim survivors and
human rights groups who have stood by them.
This despicable campaign was initially launched in May 2009, by the
State of GujaratÂ’s counsel in the Supreme Court, and is now being
echoed by Rais Khan. The purpose of this campaign is plain and
simple – it is designed to disrupt the trials, derail the course of
justice and influence the course of conviction. Earlier, in 2004,
after the historic decision of the Supreme Court to transfer BEST
Bakery trial to Maharashtra, similar such efforts were made through
star witness Zahira Shaikh.

Then, on an application made by Teesta Setalvad of CJP, the
Honourable Court had ordered an inquiry by the Registrar General of
the Supreme Court that cleared Ms. Setalvad of malicious charges,
and in fact punished the witness for perjury. It can be seen
therefore, that from the outset, Government of Gujarat through
agents and provocateurs has subverted all efforts to punish the
perpetrators of the Anti Minority Pogrom of 2002. This onslaught
against Setalvad and her lawyers is a vindictive bid to derail the
course of public justice.

D.)
Conclusion:


The Committee aims at educating people about the flagrant subversion
of legal and social justice in Gujarat. It also aims at studying the
situation in detail and assist the victims for attaining justice. In
the lieu of this, it will study all the cases carefully for
subversion or violation of justice and present a memorandum to the
Governor of Gujarat in the month of June. The action programme will
also include making suggestions for amending the Â’Communal Violence
BillÂ’ to include clauses related to Subversion of Justice.

The Committee is gravely concerned at the continued persecution of
Human Rights Defender Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for
Justice and Peace (CJP). Further, Advocate Suhel Tirmizi and several
other human rights campaigners are also being harassed. These people
have been in forefront of the struggle to secure justice for 2002
Gujarat riots victims. The efforts of leading activists to secure
justice and dignity for the poor and dispossessed are a source of
inspiration for upcoming human rights proponents. The divisive
elements are now attempting to stifle their voice, by organizing an
intimidatory and malicious campaign against those who are
relentlessly fighting for this cause.


Note: – Petition can be obtained on request.


For further
information, please refer to the
following:

1.  12 FEB 2011 –
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE GODHRA
SIT REPORT

http://www.tehelka.com/story_main48.asp?filename=Ne120211coverstory.asp
HereÂ’s the smoking gun. So how come the SIT is looking the other
way?


2. 
11 FEB 2011 –

THE TIMES OF INDIA, DELHI EDN

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive
&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=CAP/2011/02/11&
PageLabel=12&EntityId=Ar01200&ViewMode=HTML&GZ=T

Gujarat top cop may be paying for his ‘initiative’


3. 19
FEBRUARY 2011 – ‘I was there. Narendra Modi said let the people vent
their angerÂ’ DIG 
Sanjeev
Bhatt knows the terrible truth about Gujarat 2002.  ASHISH
KHETAN has his explosive
revelations. Will the Supreme Court take it on record?


http://www
.tehelka.com/story_main48.asp?filename=Ne190211EXPLOSIVE.asp


4. 
 February 2011 – HINDI OUTLOOK

http://hindi.outlookindia.com/articlefullwidth.aspx?270299

http://hindi.outlookindia.com/articlefullwidth.aspx?270299
Jagane Waloki awaz ko
Kuchalne ki police ki koshish


5.   
14 FEBRUARY 2011 – ENGLISH OUTLOOK

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?270310
Modi Finds A Target

 6.    12 MAR 2011 – TEHELKA WHOSE
AMICUS IS HARISH SALVE?
 http://www.tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne120311WhoseAmicus.asp

 7.    17 MAR 2011 – TOI
MUMBAI 
SIT to quiz whistle-blower cop again on Modi riot role

DIG Had Said That CM Wanted To Allow
Hindus to Avenge Godhra


8.  
21 MARCH 2011 TIMES OF INDIA – 2002

RIOTS PROBE

http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=
Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=
TOIM/2011/03/17&PageLabel=15&EntityId=Ar01500&ViewMode=HTML

BhattÂ’s testimony against Modi cut
short


9.
 PUNISHING LAW ABIDING OFFICERS

http://www.gujarat-riots.com/subvrPunOfficer.htm

 

 

 


 

 


 

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