This pursuit of justice is slowly but steadily reaching its climax. Could this be the reason for her threatened arrest? The enormous support and assistance she gave 5,000 surviving witnesses, who unflinchingly recorded their testimonies, helped secure 120 convictions to life imprisonments, including that of a minister in the state cabinet.
I once had a discussion with Teesta in Mumbai at a public meeting soon after the 1992 riots. We agreed that if we had fought the 1984 Sikh killings in Delhi the way we do now the Gujarat carnage, the 1993 killing in Mumbai would not have happened. I can now add that, if in 1993 the Justice Srikrishna Commssion findings were accepted and we had succeded in convicting even one accused at the top level, 2002 would not have happened. It is this understanding that compels her to continue with the fight against the killers of the 2002 carnage. What we are witnessing is the power of the state and its terrorising arm, the CBI, to mount a raid on Teesta’s home and office to prove that she misused foreign funds versus the power of the courts to hold power to account. Who will win this battle? It is the courts of this country that are on trial, not Teesta.
As for the proverbial wine and visits to the beauty parlour, apart from the fact that they sustain the myth of the “five-star“ activists, I must of the “five-star“ activists, I must remind the courts that they hold their own legal aid meetings spending money meant for the poor in seven-star hotels. There is a record of a protest as regards this lodged by no less a person than a former judge of the Chen nai High Court. Will they be swayed by such allegations now to refuse Teesta bail? This is not to admit on my part that money was so spent, but rather to expose the hollow legal nature of the rea sons to oppose bail. It is nobody’s case that there should be no inves tigation into the alleged misuse of funds, rather that the investiga tion be free and fair.
I now ask a basic question, why is there one law for the non-profit organizations and another for for-profit corporates? Why is there no imprisonment under FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) but imprisonment for non-profits for violating norms relating to getting grants from foreign donors under FCRA? The only explanation is that the FCRA is a gateway to crushing human rights, and what is worse, an alibi for an argument that we, the NGOs who take up human right issues are “anti-national“. We compromise the “economic security“ of our countries, expressions that were reserved for terrorists so far. I call for the repeal of the FCRA and its replacement with a Foreign Contributions Management Act, which addresses only public servants.
Perhaps then we will see some justice for Teesta, the woman whose father named her after a river in Bangladesh which flows fearlessly across borders.