There is concern among Human Rights Activists about what will happen after the 19th of June, 2014. Padamshri Teesta Setalwad, Javed Anand, Tanvir Jafri, Salimbhai Sandhi and Firoz Gulzar Pathan face allegations including cheating, forgery, and criminal breach of trust in a case filed in January 2014 relating to the raising of funds for a riot memorial museum in Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad.
The Gujarat High Court has stayed their arrest in the case until 19 June 2014 following their application for pre-arrest bail. The Gujarat police have frozen the personal bank accounts of TeestaSetalvad and JavedAnand, and the accounts of two organizations – Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and the Sabrang Trust – run by them.
Amnesty International India has written to the Chief Minister of Gujrat stating they understand that the financial accounts of both organizations have been audited and submitted to Income Tax Authorities, the Charity Commissioner, Mumbai and the Union Ministry for Home Affairs. Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and the three others have rebutted the allegations against them in detail in affidavits produced in court. The Boards of Citizens for Justice and Peace and the Sabrang Trust have also fully cooperated with the Gujarat police, and have made public multiple audit reports.
Teeta Setalvad and Javed Anand have been steadfastly working for justice for victims and survivors of the Gujarat riots of 2002 for several years. Their work has been instrumental in bringing about over a hundred convictions in riot-related cases since 2002. Teesta Setalvad herself has won accolades and recognition, both national and international, for her human rights activism.
Amnesty International India has expressed hope that the new government will live up to its commitment to defending rights guaranteed under the Indian constitution and international law and will protect human rights defenders like Teesta Setalvad from harassment and intimidation.
Amnesty International India has urged the Gujarat government to:
- Respect the fair trial rights of Teesta Setavad, Javed Anand and the three others in the case.
- Protect their constitutional rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.
- Ensure that human rights defenders in Gujaratcan carry out their work without intimidation or harassment, and take action against those who violate their rights.
This letter has been copied to the MD Antani, Secretary (Home) and PC Thakur (Director General of Police )