03, May 2018 | CJP Team
CJP Secretary and acclaimed Human Rights Defender Teesta Setalvad is once again in the cross-hairs of a vindictive state. Setalvad is best known for standing up to an oppressive regime that played a questionable role in fanning the flames of hate and violence during the post Godhra anti-minority genocide in Gujarat in 2002. But in a cruel twist, it is she who has had to run from pillar to post to secure bail in a clear case of malicious prosecution.
Setalvad has been falsely implicated in a completely fabricated and motivated case where she has been accused of preparing false affidavits for survivors in the Naroda Gam massacre. Setalvad has been accused of preparing affidavits for survivors to make their plight sound more gruesome and shocking than their actual experience.
Now, the Gujarat High Court is set to hear the matter of cancellation of Anticipatory bail to Setalvad.
CJP has been at the forefront of the legal struggle to secure justice in cases of large scale human rights violations that took place during the Gujarat genocide of 2002. We have been constantly targeted by a vindictive state. To support CJP, Donate Now.
Background of the case
During the course of the present trial, many prosecution witnesses have appeared and supported the case of the prosecution. There were over seven witnesses in the trial who had also sworn affidavits which were filed before the Supreme Court. During the course of their cross examination by the Defence and they were confronted with these affidavits. In the course of the cross examination, they have differed with certain portions of the affidavit. It is admitted by all these persons that:
- They willingly swore the affidavits;
- They purchased the stamp paper for executing them;
- The affidavits were prepared in their presence;
- The contents were read over to them in vernacular;
- The Petitioner No. 2 (Setalvad) was not present when the affidavits were prepared;
- The facts were narrated by the witnesses to Respondent 3 herein, Rais Khan.
- Except for a few discrepancies, they stand by the contents of the affidavit;
The entire affidavit with Teesta Setalvad’s respose to the allegations may be read here.
In 2011, a Sessions Court had granted Setalvad anticipatory bail. But the state opposed this. However, the matter was stayed by the Supreme Court. After the Supreme Court vacated the stay, the state has moved the Gujarat High Court to cancel the Anticipatory Bail granted by the Sessions Court. This is just one in a long line of harassment tactics employed by the state to deter Setalvad from securing justice in cases where perpetrators are powerful right wing politicians.
The Story behind the Story
This is all actually the handiwork of a disgruntled former employee of CJP who has now become a political stooge of the ruling dispensation. Rais Khan, has, since 2010, thirty two months after he was discontinued from services of field coordinator of CJP, a renumerative post where rental accommodation was also provided, literally been forum shopping and at the root of several malicious and false cases against Setalvad.
Setalvad was first targeted in 2004 through wings of the Gujarat state who induced star witness, Zahira Shaikh. A Supreme Court appointed Registrar General’s report completely exonerated Setalvad and CJP of baseless charges and found Zahira guilty of inducement by influential politicians. She was sentenced to one year simple imprisonment in 2006. Allegations against Setalvad have ranged from kidnapping to perjury to financial embezzlement.
Clearly, today Khan who enjoys the patronage of the regime in Delhi having been appointed to the Central Wakf Board also has senior counsel closely associated with the ruling party appearing for him. Since September 2010 his forum shopping has meant him approaching five trial courts specially hearing the Gujarat 2002 cases, the Nanavaty Shah Commission, the SIT and now the Crime Branch of the Gujarat police. In two judgments, in the Sardarpura matter and the Naroda Patiya matter, the judgments have passed remarks against Khan labelling his conduct as interference in the administration of justice
The path-breaking work by CJP, spearheaded by its Secretary, Setalvad that has ensured the conviction of 172 persons — 124 of which to life imprisonment– is the single most significant reason for her being singled out by a vindictive regime. The continued historical legal battle in the form of the Zakia Jafri case too, is a serious thorn in the flesh of the powers that be.
Teesta Setalvad honoured abroad for her Human Rights Work
While the state is busy targeting Teesta Setalvad, other countries are honouring and felicitating this courageous human rights defender. Recently on a whirlwind visit to Canada for the release of the Punjabi translation of her book Footsoldier of the Constitution, Setalvad was honoured with the Medal of Courage. Setalvad met several senior Canadian dignitaries on the trip before heading to the United States to speak at Harvard University and other events across the country.