MUMBAI, February 18, 2015

A group of social activists on Tuesday called the Gujarat police insistence on taking Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand in custody a witch hunt.Setalvad and Anand, through their NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), had secured the conviction of several accused, including some senior police officers, in the 2002 Gujarat riots and fake encounter cases, and the activists alleged that that was why the Gujarat police wanted to arrest them and send a message to anyone who dared question injustice and atrocities.The Gujarat police say Setalvad and Anand are wanted for questioning in a case of alleged embezzlement of funds collected for a museum in memory of the victims of the Gujarat riots.The Supreme Court granted the couple interim bail till Thursday , but the activists said they feared physical harm to the duo if they were denied further bail.

“It is wrongly charged that Teesta and Javed embezzled the funds received for a museum at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad while the truth is that the total amount of Rs 4.6 lakh received for the museum fund is intact,“ said Sandhya Gokhale of Hum Azaadiyon Ke Haq Mein at a press conference.

Filmmaker Anand Patwardhan said many police officers “involved in fake encounter cases“ went to jail because of Setalvad and Anand but now many of them were out on bail and some had been reinstated.

Pointing to a worrying trend for social activism under the Narendra Modi government, Mr.  Tushar Gandhi Gandhi said the state was sending the strong message that “if you stand up for rights, honesty or ethics, you will be persecuted.”

Mr. Gandhi also expressed concern over Ms. Setalvad’s safety if she were to go into custody. Pointing to the hate campaign against Ms. Setalvad on social media, Mr. Gandhi said he faced a barrage of obscene response after he tweeted in her support

“Will the government ensure their safety? From the people who are in jail due to the efforts of Teesta and Anand? As we can see in Gujarat, the accused have been rewarded. How does the state ensure that it doesn’t fall prey to such strong-arm tactics?”

Source- Hindu and TOI