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Citizens for Justice and Peace

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08, May 2017



http://www.asianage.com/


Zahira claims NGO coercion


By Our Correspondent


Baroda, Nov. 3:
The
complainant and key eyewitness in the Best Bakery massacre case, Ms Zahira
Sheikh, on Wednesday accused Citizens for Justice and Peace secretary
Teesta Setalvad of threatening her. Appearing before a press conference in
Baroda, Ms Sheikh said “her statements before the Baroda court were true”
and that “she was now being forced to lie before the Mumbai court”.

Ms
Sheikh claimed Ms Setalvad, Mr Raees Khan and five others had abducted her
and her family members before taking them to Mumbai. “Setalvad then forced
me to file fresh complaints and affidavits in the Best Bakery case,” Ms
Sheikh said.

In
Mumbai, addressing reporters outside Mazgaon court, Ms Setalvad denied Ms
SheikhÂ’s allegations. “I am hurt and pained, but not defeated. I donÂ’t
understand why she would say something like this,” she said. Ms Setalvad
pointed out that Ms SheikhÂ’s allegations come at a time when the
prosecutionÂ’s case is going strong and when Ms Sheikh and her brother were
due to be examined in a day. “It is for you, the media and the people, to
reflect on it,” she said, adding, “Zahira should have thought about the
consequences of her allegations after the Supreme Court passed such a
landmark order.” Ms Setalvad felt the allegations will not have any impact
on the on-going trial here, but “will only affect ZahiraÂ’s credibility”.

Mr
Raees Khan told The Asian Age: “She (Zahira) is lying. I donÂ’t know why
she is doing it now. She had drafted many complaints in Hindi which we
forwarded to the National Human Rights Commission and other agencies. We
never threatened her.”

In
Baroda Ms Sheikh alleged, “I was shifted to Mumbai from Baroda under
threat. Raees Khan and his goons, pointing a knife at me, had forced us to
leave the city after the Baroda courtÂ’s verdict last year. Teesta kept all
my family members at different places and did not allow us to meet one
another. She also tortured me.” After several futile attempts, Ms Sheikh
claimed, she finally escaped on Tuesday from Ms SetalvadÂ’s “captivity”.
However, sources closely associated with the case stated that Ms Sheikh
and her family members had escaped about a week ago.

In
affidavit (30/4) filed at Baroda on Wednesday, the Sheikh family narrated
the incidents that occurred during their captivity. Mohammed Vohra, Arif
Malek, Munna Malek and two unidentified persons had approached Zahira at
her residence in Ekta Nagar in Baroda after the trial was over, according
to Ms SheikhÂ’s statement.

“Raees
Khan and his goons took us all away forcefully, telling us, “Chup rehna,
yeh kaum ki baat hai”, and transported us to Mumbai. I was kept at the
residence of Teesta for about a month. I was locked in a room and was not
allowed to meet anyone. My signatures were obtained on some papers typed
in English that I couldnÂ’t understand. I was told that those were the
documents pertaining to the Best Bakery property in Baroda,” Ms Sheikh
said in her affidavit.

She
also claimed that Ms Setalvad and Raees Khan threatened her to register
false statements. ms Sheikh added, “They told me, ‘Kaum ka savaal hai,
jhooth to bolna padega, aur jab case fir se chalega tab hum bolenge waise
zoobani deni padegiÂ’. I pleaded with them to relieve me as I did not want
to get into these affairs and did not want to give false statements
against innocent people framed in the case. What I had stated in the
Baroda court was the truth.”

She
claimed that earlier she was kept at Ms SetalvadÂ’s residence on Juhu Tara
Road in Mumbai before being shifted to Versova. “I will lodge a police
complaint against Teesta, Raees Khan and others involved,” she said.

Ms
Sheikh did not spare the Mumbai police either. “Wahan ki police bhi Teesta
se mili hui hain. Teesta jo kehti hain, police wohi karti hai,” she
alleged.

She
alleged that her brother NafitullahÂ’s wife Kailash, alias Heena, was also
abducted by Ms Setalvad and forced to depose before the Mumbai court.
“However, Heena was at her maternal home in Savli taluka, Baroda, when the
Best Bakery incident had taken place and she was not a witness. Teesta
forced her to make false statements making her an eyewitness,” she said.

“I
will now stay in Baroda with my family. I donÂ’t want to get into all these
things. I would not lie, it being the holy month of Ramzan. And I am a
devout Muslim. However, I cannot inform about the case that is going on in
the Mumbai court. I will speak before the court only when asked to
depose,” Ms Sheikh said.


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