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Over 2,000 eminent personalities condemn the arrest of Teesta Setalvad

Over 2,000 eminent personalities condemn the arrest of Teesta Setalvad

After the arrest and five-day remand of Teesta Setalvad and former DGP police RB Sreekumar, over 2,200 eminent personalities from India and abroad condemned the action and demanded their immediate release.

In an open letter, the signatories also expressed shock at the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Jafri case that termed the lawful pursuit of the criminal conspiracy case of the 2002 Gujarat genocide a "coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials".

The Gujarat government is using the top court's observations to falsely and vindictively prosecute Human Rights Defender Setalvad and her allies.

The authors asked the Supreme Court to review its judgment and observations.

The distinguished persons, who criticised the move, have called for a protest on Monday. They demand justice for the arrestees in several cities in India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Jaipur, Patna, Ranchi, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Kolkata, Lucknow, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dhulia, Raipur.

They said 2,250 people had come together in solidarity with the duo and against the FIR 87/22 filed by the crime branch of Gujarat Police.

The Supreme Court recently dismissed the petition filed by Zakia Jafri, which called for an investigation into the conspiracy behind the events that led to the communal violence in the 2002 Gujarat riots. The signatories wrote that the court's decision in the case of Zakia Jafri v State of Gujarat "deepens the sense of injustice and marks a moment of profound hurt and loss for those who care about constitutional values".

They further pointed out that the court dismissed the idea that there was a conspiracy to commit the crimes of murder, rape, and destruction of property following the Godhra incident. The bench further called the petition an effort to "create a sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge".

They added that the court's judgement "assailed" those who turned to the law to pursue justice for "minorities who were targeted for over 16 years". The signatories said the judgement has "questioned the integrity of every functionary" and "tarred their motives as ulterior design".

The Supreme Court also suggested on June 24, 2022, that all those who are involved in such an abuse of process should be in the dock and proceed in accordance with the law. Encouraged by this statement, the Anti-Terrorism Squad of Gujarat arrested civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad on the very next day.

"The ATS team forcibly got into her house, assaulted her, picked her up, and took her in their custody," said the signatories. She, in her complaint to the Santa Cruz Police Station, had admitted to "seriously fearing for her life".

They further noted that it is truly an Orwellian situation of the lie becoming the truth. "Those who fought to establish the truth of the Gujarat genocide of 2002 are being targeted".

The FIR by Gujarat Police says Setalvad, along with retired police officials ADGP R.B Sreekumar and DIG Sanjiv Bhatt, are booked for conspiring to fabricate evidence and tutor witnesses and abuse the process of law.

Signatories criticised that this FIR "casts a very wide net". The time period of the offence ranges from January 1, 2002, to June 25, 2022. "In effect, every effort made to bring justice to the victims of the riot of 2002 will be criminalised". This includes petitions filed in the High Court, the Magistrates' Court, and the Supreme Court.

The signatories stated that it is an attempt to deter Indian citizens from holding the state accountable for violence in the future. It conveys that "the state can do no wrong. If you point out that the emperor has no clothes, you open yourself up to arrest and criminalisation". They demanded that the FIR against Setalvad and her allies be taken back.

Leading the signatories are V. Suresh, General Secretary of PUCL; Medha Patkar, convenor of NAPM; Apoorvanand, columnist; MP Kumar Ketkar; Admiral Ramdas, former Navy Chief; Dr Syeda Hameed, former planning commission member; Rooprekha Verma, for VC of Rooprekha Verma; Aruna Roy, MKSS founder; Sandeep Pandey, socialist party leader; Pratibha Shinde of Bharat Bachao Andolan; V S Krishna of Lok Sangharsh Morcha; Henri Tiphagne of Humans Rights Watch; Babloo Loitongbam of Human Rights Alert; Shabnam Hashmi, founding member of ANHAD; Feroze Mithiborwala, activist; and Madhu Bhaduri, a former diplomat.

Notable artists actress Shabana Azmi, writer Aakar Patel, Carnatic musician TM Krishna, poet Gauhar Raza, writer Gita Hariharan, writer Shamsul Islam, and actress Mallika Sarabhai are also among the 2,250 signatories.

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TAGS:Teesta Setalvad Teesta Setalvad arrest Gujarat riots Gujarat Gujarat police 
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