By Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net
New Delhi, 16 Feb 2015: Human rights activist and journalist couple Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand today got support from eminent journalists and legalists when they voiced strongly against the Gujarat government attempt to arrest Teesta and Anand in an alleged fund embezzlement case of Gulbarg Society – Ahmedabad’s residential colony where more than 60 people were killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“Teesta and Javed are being targeted. In the last 12 years, whenever she got a favourable development from court, the police of Gujarat have become active to target her,” said Indira Jaisingh, former Additional Solicitor General of India, while speaking at the Press Club of India here today.
Veteran legalist Jaisingh questioned the need to arrest the couple when all evidences in the case are documented.
“When all evidences in the case are documented then where is the need to arrest her and personally interrogate her? It is just to humiliate her and teach her a lesson,” said she.
On Thursday (12th Feb), a team of Gujarat Police and Mumbai police reached the home of social activist Teesta Setalvad after a Gujarat court declined her plea for anticipatory bail in a case relating to alleged embezzlement but the Supreme Court of India restrained her arrest. The apex court will hear the case on 19th Feb.
Indira Jaisingh also expressed concern on manipulation of the system and referred to the clean chit given to BJP President Amit Shah by a Mumbai court in the Gujarat fake encounter case involving three murders. She asked if CBI has become a caged parrot.
“I am concerned about such ability to manipulate the system. In the case of Shah, three judges were changed. Till today, CBI has not chosen to appeal against the order of the Mumbai court. Is the CBI a parrot in the cage of the ruling party? When BJP was in the opposition it would made similar accusation against the Congress-led UPA.”
She opposed any move to crush the right to freedom of expression.
“It is not a crime to hold a view contrary to that of the government. But the government of the day thinks so. They have brute majority in the Lok Sabha. We can only speak, but they want to suppress that right too,” said Jaisingh.
The state government of Gujarat has alleged that Teesta collected funds through her NGOs Sabrang Trust and CJP for constructing the Museum of Resistance at the place where Gulbarg Society once stood but she embezzled the funds for personal uses. Teesta has refuted the charge.
Eminent human rights activist and veteran journalist Dr. John Dayal also expressed solidarity with Teesta and Anand.
“I stand here to testify to the integrity of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. I have known them for last 30 years. I stand here in solidarity with them. Out of her commitment to human rights, truth and justice, Teesta has pursued Narendra Modi and Amit Shah in Gujarat riot cases in a way that nobody else has done in the country. It is obscene that Teesta and Javed are being haunted by the might of the state,” said Dr. Dayal.
“I am not asking anyone to drop the cases against Teesta and Javed, but do you want their custodial interrogation just to humiliate them and crush their spirit to fight for justice?” asked he and also criticized the then Congress-led UPA government for not acting speedily on the evidence against the Gujarat riot culprits.
“UPA government delayed the riots cases and failed to act on evidence provided against the main culprits,” he said.
Senior Journalist and Editor of Jan Satta Hindi daily Om Thanvi wondered as to why police want to arrest Teesta in a ‘petty’ case while accused in rape and murder cases are being released and reinstated. He also said Teesta’s case has symbolic significance.
“Teesta’s is a petty case. Several accused of murder and rape are being released and reinstated but Teesta and Javed are being haunted,” said Thanvi and expressed strong concerns on moves to curb freedom of speech in the country and also on the silence of the majority in the media.
“If you want to impose Emergency in the country you should announce it, but why do you terrorise cartoonists and writers when they sketch or write against your views? Our right to speak is being challenged. Most in the media are supporting those who are stifling our freedom of expression,” said Om Thanvi.
“It is not an individual case of Teesta. It is just symbolic. How long will we tolerate it? Should we wait for someone else to be harassed? Our media community should speak against it. I hope the higher court will deliver justice. The apex court has given verdict in her favour two times in the past,” he said.
Anand Kishore Sahay, President of Press Club of India also addressed the gathering and expressed solidarity with Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand.