Citizens for Justice and Peace


08, May 2017

Teesta denies ZahiraÂ’s allegations

– By Our Correspondent

Mumbai, Nov. 3:
Best Bakery case took a dramatic twist on Wednesday when prime witness
Zahira Sheikh alleged that she was “threatened” into re-starting the case
again by Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad. Ms Setalvad is a member of
the NGO Citizens for Peace and Justice.

Addressing reporters in Mumbai outside Mazgaon court, where the Best
Bakery retrial is going on, Ms Setalvad denied ZahiraÂ’s allegations. “I am
hurt and pained, but not defeated. I donÂ’t understand why she would say
something like this,” she said.

Setalvad pointed out that ZahiraÂ’s allegations come at a time when the
prosecutionÂ’s case is going strong and when Zahira 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.”

Setalvad felt ZahiraÂ’s allegations will not have any impact on the
on-going trial here, but “will only affect ZahiraÂ’s credibility”.

ZahiraÂ’s lawyer Mihir Desai felt her turnaround at a time like this could
affect the case to a certain extent. Mr Desai had interviewed Zahira and
her family members on several occasions before approaching the Supreme
Court pleading for a retrial. “I have personally known Teesta for a long
time now and can say for sure that Zahira allegations are baseless. We
cannot say what induced her to issue such statements,” he said.

Desai added that Ms Sheikh was just another eyewitness to the court. “The
media has made her a star witness. For the court she is an eyewitness,
just like others, and based on all their statements to the court, it will
decide who is guilty.” He added: “Had she made these statements before the
court, it would have been an entirely different situation.”

Anil Dharker, a CJP member, said Ms SheikhÂ’s allegations are ridiculous. “Teesta
has done everything to protect her and her family. When the case was being
heard in the Gujarat court, Ms Sheikh was being intimidated by the people
there. In fact, we were responsible for her well-being. There has to be
some reason for her change in stand, but I cannot disclose them now as the
matter is sub judice.”

said, “In a way I feel sorry for her. She was only 17 when the incident
occurred and she has been through a lot of trauma. But what she is doing
now will only damage her and her credibility.”

Sources closely associated with the Best Bakery case, however, suspect
that Ms SheikhÂ’s inducement was money. “We do not think she could be
threatened at this point of time,” they said.

Meanwhile, Panun Kashmir has demanded that Ms Setalvad be arrested. In a
press release, filmmaker, social activist and Panun Kashmir official
spokesperson Ashok Pandit said, “A thorough investigation should be
carried out of all those people involved with Teesta Setalvad. The funding
agencies of the magazine Combat Communalism and NGO Citizens for Justice
should be thoroughly investigated.”

added, “We appeal to all the secular-minded people, like Mahesh Bhatt,
Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Alyque Padamsee, Saeed Mirza, Anand Patwardhan,
Rakesh Sharma and others, to come forward and raise a voice against Teesta
Setalvad.” “A woman who was till now accusing Narendra Modi and Bal
Thackeray and other Hindu fundamentalists stands exposed today,” he
claimed, adding, “Her statement to Zaheera and the other witnesses, ‘Kaum
ke liye karna padegaÂ’, is the biggest standing question mark. Which kaum
(country) is she referring to?”

Bhat, speaking from Goa, said, “It is obvious that some people stood to
lose if Zaheera and her brother give witness to the murder of 14 people in
the Best Bakery. Zahira Sheikh may have succeeded in putting Teesta on the
backfoot for a day or so, but no one can undo somebodyÂ’s work by talking
to the media. She has built her reputation brick by brick and proved her



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