In the first week of February, a single judge bench of the Gujarat High Court ordered the Gujarat police to arrest Teesta Setalvad and subject her to “custodial interrogation” and also dismissed her application for anticipatory bail. The High Court issued these orders on the basis of a complaint of “misappropriation of funds” by a person not connected in any way with a Trust set up by Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand in the memory of the victims of the Gulbarga housing society massacre in Ahmedabad. That massacre took place in the terrible days of February 28- March 3 2012 during the genocidal massacre of people of the Muslim faith in Gujarat.
The Gujarat government is pretending to be concerned about the misappropriation of funds collected in the names of the victims, when it has not shown an iota of concern for getting justice for the thousands of innocent people who were massacred 13 years ago. It is hounding those who are demanding justice for the victims of communal massacre in which prominent leaders of political parties were seen as instigators and organisers. It is well known that political parties organise communal tensions and communal violence to serve their narrow interest and the various organs of the Indian state have not only failed to protect the lives of innocent victims but have actually made it impossible to get the perpetrators of the crime punished and to give justice to the victims. Numerous such examples can be found in India.
The Gujarat High Court also made sweeping allegations against Teesta Setalvad on the basis of the statements of the Gujarat police. It is well known that the Gujarat police was involved, not only in carrying out the genocide, but also in protecting the perpetrators and persecuting the victims for the past 13 years. It is also well known that top officials of the Gujarat police carried out numerous fake encounters – the case of Ishrat Jehan and her companions being the most well recorded. It cannot be dismissed as coincidence that a few days after the arrest warrant against Teesta Setalvad was issued, the courts released former DIG of Gujarat, Vanzare, on bail. Vanzare was arrested for organizing numerous fake encounter killings following years of struggle waged by rights activists.
The Gujarat government is trying to browbeat Teesta Setalvad for standing up for getting justice for the victims. On flimsy charges they want to subject Teesta Setalvad to custodial interrogation (read torture) to punish her for demanding justice for the victims and to punish those sitting in high commands of political parties who organised the massacre. On 19th of February the Supreme Court had to granted anticipatory bail to Teesta Setalvad. It is has earlier pointed out that arrest and custodial interrogation that follows should be only in circumstances where the accused persons will flee justice, or tamper with evidence, or intimidate witnesses. It asked the Gujarat government where the allegedly misappropriated funds were used by Teesta Setalvad but the Gujarat failed to cite even a single example. This shows that it is a case of hounding of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand and not out of concern for the people who had donated the money in the name of the victims.
For the last 13 years numerous rights activists and organizations like Lok Raj Sangathan, and political parties who are consistent defenders of human rights and opponents of state terrorism, have been fighting for conviction and punishment of the perpetrators of the 2002 state organized genocide in Gujarat, the 1984 genocide in Delhi, the violence and terror following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, and many other acts organised by major political parties. Teesta Setalwad has been a prominent figure in this movement for justice, against state terrorism, and for punishing the guilty. In particular her organisation has produced considerable evidence to demonstrate the role of the state in organizing and abetting the carnage, as well as several fake encounters in the subsequent period.
The recent court order against Teesta Setalvad is a clear example of how the judicial system in our country works completely in the interests of the ruling class and at any particular time, in the interests of the party in power. The same courts that have continually persecuted Teesta Setalvad, as they have persecuted and continue to persecute countless others who have stood up for the interests of the downtrodden and marginalized, have no problems in giving a clean chit to well known criminals belonging to the party in power, despite overwhelming evidence of their crimes against masses of people. They have no problem in giving ‘clean chits’ to top police officers and politicians who have organized and carried out fake encounters, in blatant violation of the very laws that the courts are supposed to uphold. Not only have these well known criminals been exonerated by the courts, they continue to enjoy positions of power within the present system.
The continuous persecution of Teesta Setalvad shows how the Indian state, including the legislature, executive and judiciary, will stop at nothing to criminalize any form of dissent against the crimes committed by those in power on the people. All political and social organizations and their activists, who have been raising their voice in defence of the rights of the working and oppressed people, know this very well and have had to face one or another form of persecution by the state.
Lok Raj Sangathan condemns the harassment and persecution of Teesta Setalvad by the Indian state.
Indian Indian state to unite and expose the brutal violation of rights by the Indian state representatives.