16, May 2018 | CJP Team
CJP has been at the forefront of the struggle for justice in multiple Gujarat riots related cases including Naroda Patiya, Ode Massacre, Sardarpura, Gulberg Society etc. We have fought these battles in the courts and beyond. As a result of this CJP Secretary and internationally acclaimed Human Rights Defender, Teesta Setalvad, has constantly been in the cross-hairs of a vindictive state.
There are two different methods deployed to harass us. The first involves embroiling Teesta Setalvad in malicious, fictitious and fabricated cases. This includes the one where it was alleged that Setalvad and her partner Javed Anand used fraudulent means to get funds from the government under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for their educational NGO KHOJ, and then misappropriated the money so obtained. You can read here our official statement where we have clarified each point and explained how the allegations are baseless.
The second method is even more insidious. It involves constantly making Setalvad run from pillar to post to get bail in these false cases. For instance, in the KHOJ matter Setalvad was forced to apply for anticipatory bail to avoid arrest in a completely fake case. Interestingly, although the KHOJ case should be based in Mumbai as this is where we have the offices of CJP and our sister organisation Sabrang, the case was purposely filed in Gujarat, forcing unnecessary travel whenever there is a bail hearing. Moreover, transit bail has to be sought from a Mumbai court to prevent arrest before Setalvad and Anand can reach and apply for bail before a Gujarat court. This is an extremely vicious form of harassment!
The KHOJ case was filed by Rais Khan, a former disgruntled employee and stooge of a vindictive state. He has been used multiple times to file such fake cases in the past. He has gone forum shopping and filed over a dozen different cases against Setalvad and her team over the years for which he has also been rewarded handsomely by way of being 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.
We have been cooperating fully
On April 5, Justice Revati Mohite Dere of the Bombay High Court granted interim transit bail till May 2, 2018 to Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. As per the orders of the Hon’ble Court, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand appeared before the Ahmedabad Crime Branch at 10 a.m on April 6. Both gave their statements in response to all the questions put to them until after 5 p.m.
Preventing international travel
But it doesn’t stop there. Attempts are made to prevent Teesta Setalvad from travelling abroad because the perpetrators are afraid that she will lay threadbare the dismal human rights record of the present regime before the international community! Recently, when Setalvad was invited to travel to Canada and the United States, the state moved to have her grounded. Luckily the Supreme Court gave Setalvad protection from arrest and further harassment during the period of her travel. The protection was granted till May 30, 2018. Setalvad and Anand will now apply for anticipatory bail in the Ahmedabad Sessions Court.
A brief history of CJP’s involvement in Gujarat Riots related cases:
Since 2002, the CJP has battled over 68 cases related to the Gujarat carnage resulting in convictions of powerful perpetrators. These led to nearly 170 convictions, with over 120 perpetrators being awarded life imprisonment. CJP stands for reformative, not retributive justice and therefore we did not ask for the death penalty for the convicts in any case. Here is a summary of our victories in Gujarat:
Best Bakery Case: 2006- 9 people convicted and given Life Sentences. 2012- HC orders Rs 3 lakh compensation for each victim.
Sardarpura Case: 2011- 31 people convicted and give Life Sentences by lower court. HC upholds conviction of 17.
Ode Case 1: 2011- Total 23 people convicted. 18 people given Life Sentences, 5 others sentenced to 7 years in jail. 2018- HC upholds conviction of 19 people including life sentences of 14 people.
Ode Case 2: 2011- 9 people convicted
Gulberg Case: 24 convicted, 36 acquitted. Court decides to discard conspiracy angle and charges those convicted with only minor offences, not murder. CJP helps survivors challenge this.
Zakia Jafri case: First time powerful people including politicians, administrators and top cops are named in open court and evidence presented of their failure to control the violence.
Naroda Patiya: 2012- Maya Kodnani convicted and sentenced to 28 years in jail, Babu Bajrangi also convicted and given Life Sentence. Victims of gender violence given Rs 5 lakh as compensation. 2018- HC acquits Kodnani, but upholds Bajrangi’s sentence.
These battles are still on in the courts, as the appeals are contested by the accused and defended by us. This is a long battle. As you must have noticed there is usually a period of five years between the judgments of the lower court and the High Court in each case. Also, we will be appealing against the acquittals in the Supreme Court.
CJP’s unwavering commitment to justice
The state’s harassment tactics do not deter us from surging forth in our quest for justice. After all, we understand that our success in the courts has rattled and frustrated the state and it is coming down upon us with its full might only because they know that our persistence and perseverance will lead to their ultimate undoing.