Persecution of Teesta Condemned
A gathering of intellectuals, literary personalities, educationists, politicians, social activists and journalists held at Bhopal with one voice condemned the deliberate harassment and persecution of social activists Teesta Sitalvad and Javed Anand. The participants attending the meeting unanimously resolved to organise such meetings at other places to apprise the people about the facts of the case which has been foisted on Teesta by the CBI and other authorities.
Initiating the discussion at the protest meeting L.S. Herdenia convener of All India Secular Forum and senior Journalist said “The Centre is seeking to keep human rights lawyer and activist Teesta Setalvad embroiled in fighting her own legal cases to divert her energies from cases of ongoing 2002 Gujarat riots. These cases are coming up for hearing in the next few days.
CBI chargesheet against her cited “lobbying with political parties” and “writing opinion articles in newspapers and magazines by Teesta and her husband Javed Anand” as violative of FCRA laws, prompting the case against them. Not maintaining exclusive bank accounts for receipt of foreign contribution was also cited as a reason, but these charges are not legitimate.
“Can writing opinion articles in newspapers columns and magazines on the issue of communal violence violate the FCRA law or pose a threat to national security? Has the freedom of speech and expression been suspended in this country, that the government will silence an activist for writing opinion articles?”
“Many of the riots survivors are poor and illiterate, and they would not know what the nuances of the law are. It is Teesta who is working day and night to bring their documents on record,”
Another charge against Ms Setalvad was that she had misappropriated Rs. 4.6 lakhs collected to build a memorial for Gulberg society riot victims. “Audited accounts show that this money remains untouched, but the MHA has bundled this amount with the rest of the foreign contributions her organisation received for other works and is accusing them of misusing large amounts of money,”
Herdenia informed that the DNA reports of bodies in mass graves unearthed in Gujarat confirmed that they were those of riot victims, as they matched with their family members, but the Gujarat High Court did not accept a plea for investigation.
“The case against Teesta Setalvad is on weak grounds, Herdenia asserted.”
Those who expressed solidarity with Teesta and Anand included former Minister, Savita Vajpayee, educationists Professor. Vijay Bahadur, Professor Ramesh Dave, Dr. Prof. Uday Jain, Former Vice-chancellor and Aruna principal of a local School, Advocates J.P. Dhanopia, who is also a spokesman for the M.P. Congress committee and Siddhartha Gupta, politicians P.C. Sharma, president Bhopal Congress committee Pramod Pradhan, Pushan Bhattacharya of the CPM Shailendra Shailly of the CPI, Vijay Kumar of the ML communist party, writers Ramakant Shrivastava, Kumar Ambuj and Mahendra Singh, president and secretary of the Progressive Writers Association, Satya Prakash Saxena “Chirag” Dr. Ali Abbas “Ummeed”, Social Activists Deepak Bhatt, AM Sinha, Dr. Vinod Nigam, Fehmeeda Begum, Javed Anis, Upasna Behar, Shivkumar Archan, Owez Arab, Journalists, Balmukund Bharati, Purnendu Shukla, Raghuraj Singh, retired Additional Director, Information Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, Shiv Kumar Awasthi, retired Director, Granth Academy. Daya Ram Namdev, Secretary Gandhi Bhavan Trust presided over the meeting.