Sunday, February 15, 2015

On the false and fabricated case against Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others

On the false and fabricated case against
 Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others
Dear Friends,
The false and fabricated case against Teesta Setalvad, Javed Anand and others has been in the news  these past days

The High Court of Gujarat has NOT taken into consideration the voluminous and irrefutable responses to all the baseless charges levelled at Teesta and the others
We urge all our friends and collaborators to join us in taking a stand for Justice and Truth and to ensure that the fair name of Teesta, Javed and others is cleared as soon as possible

We request you to sign the online petitions ( see links below)

Or you can issue your own/organisation's public statement in support of Teesta
Several public meetings/ demonstrations/press conferences are being organised all over the country in support of Teesta and others

Yesterday a well-attended demonstration was held in Mumbai and this afternoon (February 16th 4 pm) a Press Conference is being held in New Delhi at the Press Club
Do join / participate / organise one of these in your area/ city as soon as possible

The articles below are also self-explanatory

Let's rally together now before it's too late
In solidarity
Fr Cedric
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
"PRASHANT"   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052,Gujarat, INDIA
Tel :+91 (0)79-27455913/66522333
Cell : 9824034536
Fax:+91 (0)79-27489018

February 13, 2015
Press Release

As trustees of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), we have full faith in our fellow trustee, Javed Anand, and secretary, Teesta Setalvad, and we stand by them during these difficult times. We have no doubt whatsoever regarding their honesty and integrity in the dealings of CJP. We are convinced that there is no factual basis to sustain the charge of embezzlement, and this has been asserted by the independent auditors of CJP.

I.M. Kadri, Nandan Maluste, Cyrus Guzder,  Alyque Padamsee, Anil Dharker, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Rahul Bose, Cedric Prakash

The real story behind the corruption charges against activist Teesta Setalvad

The real story behind the corruption charges against act...The Gujarat
government wants activist Teesta Setalvad to be interrogated in
custody about charges of embezzling donations collected to build a
communal violence mus... |
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On Thursday, the Gujarat High Court adjourned the hearing of a case
filed by Zakia Jafri, which seeks to have charges framed against
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and 59 others for their alleged
involvement in  the 2002 riots. A lower court had previously dismissed
her case challenging the report of a Supreme Court-appointed Special
Investigation Team stating that there is no prosecutable evidence
against Modi.

The case was adjourned because the Gujarat government said it needed
time to come up with a response. "We need time to go through the
voluminous records of the case," the state prosecutor argued. Jafri's
lawyers said the government could be issued a notice and could then be
given time to reply, but the court said it would hear the matter again
on April 11.

Zakia Jafri is no stranger to waiting. On 28 February 2002, her
husband Ehsan Jafri, a Congress politician and former Parliamentarian,
was dragged out of his home in Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on
February 28, 2002, to be hacked and burned to death. Sixty nine people
died in Gulberg Society that day.

The 2002 riots in Gujarat have the distinction of being the only
instance of communal violence for which some amount of justice can be
said to have been dealt. One hundred and seventeen perpetrators have
been convicted, including a serving minister in the Gujarat
government. Because of the Supreme Court, some of the most heinous
cases during the riots have been reopened for investigation. Yet that
hasn't brought justice for all victims of the 2002 violence. Like
Jafri, many believe the pogrom in 2002, of which Gulberg Society was
only one incident, would not have happened without chief minister
Narendra Modi's tacit approval. If Jafri's legal efforts succeed, the
powerful chief minister and the Bharatiya Janata party's candidate for
the position of India's prime minister could be brought to trial on up
to 15 charges .

So far, the Gujarat government and the BJP have used the SIT report to
claim that the chief minister has been given a "clean chit" by the
country's criminal justice system. "Nothing will come of the case,"
said Harshad Patel, a BJP spokesperson in Ahmedabad told
"The clean chit has come, now the courts will also decide on that."

The backlash
Zakia Jafri does not speak to the media these days, but the source of
her courage and patience is well-known. The source works from an
office in Mumbai's Juhu area. To reach the office, one has to walk
past guards of the Central Reserve Paramilitary Force. It is a small
but furiously organised office. At the heart of this space is activist
and former journalist Teesta Setalvad, who is among the
founder-trustees of the two organisations that run from here, Sabrang
Trust and the Citizens for Justice and Peace.

Citizens for Justice and Peace was set up on 1 April 2002, in the
immediate aftermath of the Gujarat riots, to promote communal harmony.
It is among the few organisations that provides legal aid to the
survivors of the 2002 riots and has been instrumental in obtaining the
117 convictions that have come so far. Its sister organisation,
Sabrang Trust, was established after the 1992-'93 communal violence in
the city then known as Bombay.

Right now, Setalvad is battling heavy fire from Ahmedabad. In January,
the Ahmedabad police registered a First Information Report against
Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand for allegedly cheating residents
of Gulberg Society of money collected in 2008 by Sabrang Trust and
Citizens in for Justice and Peace. The money was collected to convert
Gulberg Society into "a museum of resistance". The call for donations
explained the idea: "For nearly six years now, more than a hundred
thousand survivors of independent India's state-sponsored carnage in
the western Indian state of Gujarat have been denied dignified
acknowledgement of, or reparation for, the magnitude of indignity and
violence they suffered. With the BJP's recent electoral victory in the
state, the pain and humiliation of the victim survivors has been
further exacerbated. A quiet yet dignified and firm resistance to this
state callousness and impunity lies at the heart of this idea of

This FIR was registered in response to a nine-month-old complaint by
some former residents of Gulberg Society. The complainants had said
they were not being given the money collected in their name, even as
they lived in penury. Anand and Setalvad had responded to the
complaint in May 2013, clarifying their accounts and the nature of
donations raised and for what they had been utilised. The Ahmedabad
Police's Crime Branch did nothing about the complaint for nine months,
but suddenly registered an FIR days after Setalvad and Zakia Jafri
announced their decision to challenge the lower court's order in the
Gujarat High Court, asking that charges be framed against chief
minister Modi.

The idea of a memorial to victims of communal violence is seven years
old now. "We conceived the idea in 2007 when the Supreme Court cases
were not moving," Setalvad told "There was a lot of despair
on the part of the survivors. The idea was that we would think of a
memorial for all victims of communal violence. So from Kashmiri
Pandits to Gujarat 2002, etc, and it was an ambitious project."

The FIR claims that donations were asked for and received by both
trusts, but Setalvad claims it was only Sabrang. The CJP, Setalvad
explains, works mainly to give legal aid to riot victims, whereas
Sabrang is the general trust to work on communal harmony.

At the time the memorial was proposed, there were no takers for the
flats in Gulberg Society, which is in a Hindu-dominated area in the
main city of Ahmedabad. The Sabrang Trust proposed to raise money
through donations to purchase the properties from residents at market
rates. Residents in turn promised not to sell their property until
Sabrang was able to raise enough funds. However, due to rising land
prices across Ahmedabad, Sabrang realised they would not be able to
raise enough money through only donations. They gave up the idea
altogether in 2012.

"By 2012 it was clear that land prices had gone up by four times, so
we would have needed an amount which was now impossible through
donations," said Setalvad. "Our organisation incurs an expense of Rs 5
lakhs a month, out of which just Rs 3.5-4 lakh is on legal fees. So we
directed the 4.5 lakhs collected for the Gulberg museum to legal aid,
with written permission of the donors." She said she was willing to
produce those permission letters in court, but declined to reveal the
names of the donors to

Sabrang then informed Gulberg Society about the decision, which
Society accepted. At the end of 2012, the Society passed a resolution
stating that owners could sell their property to people of any
religion or race, as was the case since it was built in 1963. This
resolution was rendered void a little over half a year later, when the
Gujarat government dredged up an old law that prevents citizens of a
community from selling their property to people outside the community.

The Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and
Provision for Protection of Tenants from Premises in Disturbed Areas
Act of 1986 was meant to protect people fleeing their homes from
communal violence from making a hasty decision of disposing of their
property and later regretting it. Around 40 per cent of Ahmedabad is
covered by this act. In August 2013, eight months after the Gulberg
Society resolution to sell their property to whomever residents
pleased, and four months after Zakia Jafri filed her first case
against the SIT's closure report, the Gujarat government suddenly
extended the application of the law to, among other places, the
Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya.

"Gulberg and Naroda Patiya are two pockets in completely
Hindu-dominated areas, which means they are obviously not going to be
able to sell to their own community," said Setalvad. Muslims don't
want to live in the Hindu areas for the fear of risking their lives in
a possible future pogrom.  Setalvad calls the law illegal and says
that it violates the right to own and sell property. "You're tying
their hands and by doing so, you're getting them to fall at your
feet," she said. "Their case is still pending in the court. This law
and its use in Gujarat ought to have been a matter of independent
investigation by the media in this country."

She added, "I am alleging openly that this is being done to try and
push the survivors of Gulberg Society to a wall, in the hope that
maybe one or two of them in desperation might bend to the will of the
state and turn hostile even in their own criminal trial." No one has
yet been convicted for the Gulberg Society massacre.

As to the museum, there were no papers, and no transaction between
Citizens for Justice and Peace, Sabrang Trust or the residents of
Gulberg Society, which Setalvad says, indicates quite clearly that
there can be no possible case of cheating. "What is cheating?"
Setalvad asked. "You can say it is cheating if I have taken money from
you or property from you. Neither has happened. There is no ingredient
here to amount to that."

In fact, the original complaint about the cheating was not filed by
representatives of the Society, but had been typed by a few members on
the society letterhead without authorisation. The authorised
representatives of the society released an affidavit (.pdf) on March
13, 2013, to categorically deny that they had any conflict with
Setalvad or her NGOs.

"We state that the NGO has already authorised the society to sell the
property last year and therefore there cannot be any grievance against
the NGO as the society has not parted with any part of the land," said
an open letter by Sabrang. "Moreover, the donors don't feel cheated
and therefore the signatories, who have not parted with a single pie,
have no locus to file any such complaint against the NGO."

One of the main charges in the FIR is that the two organisations
collected funds from foreign donors for the memorial, but had not
given the money to the intended recipients. It alleges that the
foreign donations Sabrang Trust received between April 10, 2007 and
February 20, 2014, amounting to Rs 2.62 crores, were intended for the
memorial. It also said that Citizens for Justice and Peace received
foreign donations of Rs 1.31 crores.

In a 41-page public affidavit, Setalvad and Anand show excerpts from
their accounts to prove that the total amount raised for the museum
did not exceed Rs 4.5 lakhs, only Rs 50,000 of which came from foreign
donors. The Sabrang Trust received only Rs. 1.33 crore in foreign
funds during this period, the bulk of which went towards legal aid.
Citizens for Justice and Peace received Rs. 1.15 crores. The Ahmedabad
crime branch, they say, manipulated their bank statements to arrive at
the figures of Rs 2.62 crores and Rs 1.31 crores.

They two have also filed a case in the Bombay High Court seeking to
quash the FIR and sought interim relief from the Supreme Court.
Setalvad alleges that this FIR is a conspiracy of the BJP government
in Gujarat. "The desire of the Gujarat government is to somehow
paralyse this organisation financially by getting all these malafide
allegations made," said Setalvad. "A large part of our donations is to
legal aid."

Harsh Patel of the Gujarat BJP denied this. "The government has
nothing to do with this case," he said. "If she has cheated the
residents of Gulberg, then we will find out in the court. The truth
will come out."

Taking on Narendra Modi
None of this has yet convinced Teesta Setalvad withdraw her support
for Zakia Jafri and her campaign to bring Narendra Modi to trial.

The noise around the Gulberg museum case makes better copy than the
tedious process of repeated appeals in courts, but the timeline of the
controversy created around the memorial intertwines closely with that
of Zakia Jafri's petition against the SIT report. On February 8, 2006,
Jafri filed a 119-page chargesheet alleging that Gujarat's state
machinery was involved in the riots. It took  two years and a Supreme
Court order for the complaint to be recognised. The court ordered
certain cases to be reopened and investigated by an Special
Investigative Team comprising five officers, some of whom were
replaced over the years.

The SIT filed a closure report in 2012, but failed to share its
findings with the complainants. The Supreme Court had to step in again
and ordered them to file the report with a local court, which the SIT
did only in February 2013. The closure report, which the defenders of
Narendra Modi interpret as a clean chit for the chief minister, merely
says that despite the evidence gathered by the SIT, which is
documented in its voluminous report, there is not enough to merit a
case against him.

But Raju Ramachandran, an amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court
to monitor the process, disagreed, saying that the evidence against
Modi was too significant to be judged at a pre-trial stage. In a
parallel track, the first complaint about the Gulberg Society memorial
was filed in March 2013, a month before Jafri and Setalvad filed their
protest petition in April, and in August that year, the Gujarat
government extended the Disturbed Areas Act to Gulberg Society.

"Narendra Modi is very upset with [Teesta Setalvad] because she is
going after him," said Kingshuk Nag, author of a biography on the
Gujarat chief minister. "She is a hardcore Gujarati, and though she
grew up in Bombay, she is from a highly regarded family. A lot of
other people have not been as active as she has. She has been
proactive in doing relief and rehabilitation work with victims, women
and following up with Modi. Therefore he is taking advantage of the
fact that she is in charge of these large organisations."

While the merits of the Gulberg Museum case will be decided in court,
this is not the first time that Setalvad and Citizens for Justice and
Peace have been targeted by the Gujarat government. In the years after
2002, as it became clear that Citizens for Justice and Peace was going
to continue to support riot survivors in their fight for legal
justice, the Gujarat police filed FIR after FIR against Setalvad. All
of them were found to be spurious and were quashed by the courts.

The Gujarat government has had very little to do with any of the
convictions in the 2002 pogrom cases. Of the cases pursued by the
Gujarat government, only five per cent resulted in conviction. Of the
cases pursued by the SIT or moved to courts in the neighbouring
Maharashtra state, the conviction rate has been 39 per cent.

Some criticise Setalvad for focusing so heavily on the figure of the
chief minister that it has taken away focus from convicting
perpetrators. "It is a fair argument that Setalvad is obsessed with a
political battle against Modi," said Ashok Malik a senior journalist
and BJP observer. "It is valid to say that he was the chief minister
and he failed to control the riots. But to confuse a valid political
case against him, with a legal case is a weak point."

Setalvad dismisses this criticism. "If it was the case that there was
no material against Modi, then I think the Supreme Court of this
country would not have ordered an investigation by the SIT. The fact
that the SIT report could not find conclusive evidence, but the amicus
curiae appointed by the court read the evidence differently, is
obviously something the critics are not aware of. I don't think the
other perpetrators will get lost in the battle. The charges are not
just on Narendra Modi but on 59 others as well."

RB Sreekumar, who was Gujarat's chief of intelligence in the months
directly after the riots and who submitted a 200-page affidavit
listing the circumstantial evidence against Modi, also disagrees with
the idea that targeting Modi is unnecessary. "Narendra Modi's plan is
to keep the complicity level as low as possible, so that it doesn't
reach him," he said.

That is why Setalvad thinks it is important to have Narendra Modi and
the Gujarat government face trial. "We believe they are perpetrators
themselves, which is why we decided to assist Zakia Jafri," she said.
"It's still up for grabs; it's not been decided legally."


Javed Anand, who along with his wife Teesta Setalvad faces arrest by
the Gujarat police for alleged embezzlement of funds, clarifies his
stand in an exclusive interview.

The mud-slinging apart, this is an attempt to cripple us financially.
For the past eight months, our accounts have been frozen and we have
been struggling to pay our staff, said Javed Anand, who along with his
wife Teesta Setalvad, faces arrest by the Gujarat police in a case of
alleged embezzlement of funds. "We expected this from the day we
in Gujarat in 2002. We had no illusions about what we were up against.
The NDA was in power, and Narendra Modi was CM in Gujarat. The nature
of our work is such that in 2004, the Supreme Court directed that
Teesta be given security by the CISF."

The Supreme Court has stayed the arrest of the couple till February
19. On Thursday, the Gujarat High Court had rejected their
anticipatory bail application, saying their custodial interrogation
was in public interest. But pointed out Javed, everything related to
the case was documented and in the Gujarat police's possession. "They
have our bank statements, the bank statements of our trusts,
resolutions of trustees, our IT returns. We have also given them
details of cash expenditure which run into thousands of pages. All
they need to do is study them and see if their allegations have any
basis. We can't tamper with those documents. So what do they want from
our custodial interrogation?"

Had the repeated references in the media to their lifestyle--alleged by
the Gujarat government to have been sustained by funds collected for
Gujarat riot victims--created any mistrust among the victims they
worked with? "Not at all," replied Javed. "In fact, the day our
application was rejected by the Gujarat High Court, our lawyers called
to say that many of the survivors had called them to express their

"The fact that we've survived since our bank accounts were frozen is
because of concerned citizens supporting us," added Javed, "not only
those we approached but also complete strangers who said they believed
in our work."

Defending their choice of a prominent Congressman as their lawyer in
the Supreme Court, Javed said that they had approached Kapil Sibal as
a top lawyer, not as a Congressman. "He has appeared for us earlier
too. Besides, Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaising were present in
court too for the case." How could they afford Sibal? "Many senior
lawyers have appeared for us, from Kamini Jaiswal, to Harish Salve to
Anil Dewan. We've never been in a position to
them a rupee, and they've never mentioned it." In fact, said Javed,
with their accounts frozen, they had not been able to pay their
Gujarat lawyers either. "Yet, despite the propaganda against us, they
have never spoken about withdrawing from the case."

Giving a detailed rebuttal of the charges against them, Javed pointed
out that the complainant, Raees Khan, who was their employee from 2002
to 2007, had started allegations against them only in 2010, when the
Special Investigation Team set up by the Supreme Court to investigate
the Gujarat riot cases started its work. Citing the case of Zahira
Shaikh, witness in the Best Bakery Case, who had made similar charges
against Teesta, Javed pointed out that the Supreme Court had found the
charges baseless and sentenced Shaikh to a year's imprisonment for

All the lawyers they had spoken to have concluded that the case was
"completely mala fide", added Javed. "Thanks to our efforts, 117
people have been given life imprisonment for perpetrating the 2002
Gujarat mass killings, including Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and
former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani. Then there's the Zakia Jafri
petition which accuses Narendra Modi himself as chief minister at that
time. Now that the CM has become PM, we know the attack is going to
get even more deadly. But we are not going to pack up and go home."

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