More than 30 MPs belonging to both Houses of Parliament have written to home minister Rajnath Singh expressing concern at the alleged ‘targeting’ of activist Teesta Setalvad and her organization.
Calling it an attempt to “silence the voice of justice for victims of the Gujarat riots 2002“, the MPs said Setalvad has “determinedly fought legal battles for the victims and against those who perpetrated the violence”.
The signatories to the petition, including Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Md. Salim, Ram Gopal Yadav, KC Tyagi and some others, said “to target the organization which did such service to the cause of justice is a blot on our democracy”. They said even before the “2002 carnage, Setalvad and her colleagues have been dedicated to the rule of law and the Indian Constitutional framework through work in the spheres of education, media and culture. Javed Anand, her colleague, has been advocating democratic and secular values within all communities, including the minorities”.
The MPs cited the statement of Gujarat minister Rajni Kant Patel who accused Setalvad of spreading “lies against the Gujarat Government, tarnishing the image of India in international circles and also to spread communal disharmony”. The letter said, “Wild charges show the mindset of the government which cannot tolerate any efforts to bring justice to the victims.” They said it is “public knowledge” that it is due to Setalvad and her team of dedicated lawyers that the “perpetrators of the riots including then ministers in the Gujarat government have been brought to book”.
The MPs expressed shock that despite Supreme Court refusing custodial interrogation of Setalvad, “even now the government is insisting on her arrest”. They said “transparency and accountability in funding including foreign funding is an essential part of our democratic procedures” but this cannot be used “selectively to target those whose work has exposed the criminality of some of those in power as is being done in the case of Setalvad”.