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Free Teesta Setalvad: Indian intelligentsia bats for Teesta Setalvad

Highly respected lawyers, academics and journalists have strongly condemned her arrest

07 Jul 2022

Free Teesta

As Teesta Setalvad prepares to appear for her bail hearing before the court of Additional Sessions Judge DD Thakkar on Friday, July 8, more and more legal luminaries, activists, academics, journalists and influential human rights groups have showcased support for her.

In an opinion piece for The Wire, human right lawyer Prashant Bhushan rights, “The arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar, the former additional director general police, by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad on the basis of a first information report (FIR) that copiously draws on the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Ehsan Jafri case is patently malafide.” In the piece titled Zakia Jafri Case: Another ‘Arresting’ Judgment in Favour of BJP and Narendra Modi Bhushan refers to the Supreme Court’s remarks about Setalvad and other whistleblowers, and goes on to say, “Such an order is unprecedented for a constitutional court that is tasked as the custodian of people’s fundamental rights and is mandated to be a neutral arbiter of justice at the highest level. It is appalling for the Supreme Court to openly prod the authorities to bring to book those who fearlessly and selflessly undertook a difficult battle against the State and police authorities at all levels of the judiciary for many years, with the hope to bring justice to the victims of the 2002 Godhra riots.” The entire piece may be read here.

Another legal luminary, Justice Madan B Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, wrote a piece for The Wire titled Condemned by Innuendo: Some Questions on the SC Order That Led to Teesta Setalvad's Arrest, and asked, “Did the Supreme Court intend or suggest that Teesta Setalvad should be arrested?” He says, “Whatever your answer, the implications are horrendous,” adding, “If your answer to the question is ‘yes,’ don’t you think it is tragic that the Supreme Court has taken upon itself to unilaterally decide who should be arrested and why? That is certainly not the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, as we know it, except in the case of contempt of court. And, even in a case of contempt, the Supreme Court hears the alleged contemnor before judgment and arrest.” Then he examines the possibility that the SC did not suggest Teesta Setalvad’s arrest and requests them to “please explain or get someone to explain what prompted the Anti-Terrorism Squad to drive or fly down to Mumbai to arrest Teesta?” The entire piece may be read here.

Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, who has himself faced the wrath of a vindictive regime, has also penned a piece about Setalvad in Scroll. In the piece titled How India has become a land of conspiracies that turns warriors battling injustice into villains, he refers to the SC’s observations in the Zakia Jafri case and writes, “We are in a world in which language is puffed up to appear as bombastic as the alleged action itself. Reading FIRs and charge sheets filed by the Indian police always violates one’s linguistic sensibility. Now court judgments have started competing with them.” He adds, “What is common to all these is that the victims of violence or the people speaking on their behalf or working to secure justice for them have themselves been turned into conspirators. They have been accused of conspiring against the state itself, either to defame it or destablize it. The state and “the leader” have become synonymous.” The entire piece may be read here.

Gujarat High Court advocate Anand Yagnik also held a meeting at his office that was attended by other lawyers, civil society members and journalists. He was quoted by media persons as saying, “This order, particularly the questionable observations, go beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had only one point to decide on — whether an FIR had to be registered or not (against the then state functionaries who had allegedly derelicted their duty). The Supreme Court at the most could have said that there is no prima facie evidence on the basis of the investigation by SIT for registering an FIR.” He further asked, “We have never ever come across an instance in a judgement delivered by the Supreme Court which says ‘it (pursuing legal remedies) is malicious’. Where is the ground for them to say it is malicious?”

At the same gathering senior Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal reportedly said that the observations of the Supreme Court in para 88 of the judgment were “completely illegal, unconstitutional and violates every tenet of law and fundamental rights.”

In an opinion piece in NDTV, senior journalist Sagarika Ghose pointed out the curious coincidence of Teesta Setalvad’s arrest taking place on the anniversary of the day Emergency was declared in 1975. In the piece titled Opinion: Teesta Setalvad's Arrest Shows Spread Of "Emergency Mindset", Ghose writes, “The timing was eerie. On June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency. On that very day, over four decades later, on June 25, 2022, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad was dragged out of her Mumbai home by the Gujarat police which barged into her house and marched her out into a waiting police jeep. On the same day, former Gujarat police officer RB Sreekumar was arrested in Ahmedabad. As India recalled the 1975 June day when Indira Gandhi's police hauled dozens of Opposition politicians and journalists to jail, in a stark reminder, on the same day, India again saw state power bearing down on an individual citizen.” The piece may be read here.

Related:

Teesta Setalvad applies for bail
Review order and withdraw observations against Teesta Setalvad and whistleblowers: CCG to SC
Gujarat court remands Teesta Setalvad to judicial custody
Suo motu clarify Zakia Jafri case judgment's intention to not prosecute Teesta Setalvad: Citizens to CJI
Free Teesta Setalvad: A week in the life of a brave human rights defender

Free Teesta Setalvad: Indian intelligentsia bats for Teesta Setalvad

Highly respected lawyers, academics and journalists have strongly condemned her arrest

Free Teesta

As Teesta Setalvad prepares to appear for her bail hearing before the court of Additional Sessions Judge DD Thakkar on Friday, July 8, more and more legal luminaries, activists, academics, journalists and influential human rights groups have showcased support for her.

In an opinion piece for The Wire, human right lawyer Prashant Bhushan rights, “The arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar, the former additional director general police, by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad on the basis of a first information report (FIR) that copiously draws on the Supreme Court judgment in the Zakia Ehsan Jafri case is patently malafide.” In the piece titled Zakia Jafri Case: Another ‘Arresting’ Judgment in Favour of BJP and Narendra Modi Bhushan refers to the Supreme Court’s remarks about Setalvad and other whistleblowers, and goes on to say, “Such an order is unprecedented for a constitutional court that is tasked as the custodian of people’s fundamental rights and is mandated to be a neutral arbiter of justice at the highest level. It is appalling for the Supreme Court to openly prod the authorities to bring to book those who fearlessly and selflessly undertook a difficult battle against the State and police authorities at all levels of the judiciary for many years, with the hope to bring justice to the victims of the 2002 Godhra riots.” The entire piece may be read here.

Another legal luminary, Justice Madan B Lokur, a former judge of the Supreme Court, wrote a piece for The Wire titled Condemned by Innuendo: Some Questions on the SC Order That Led to Teesta Setalvad's Arrest, and asked, “Did the Supreme Court intend or suggest that Teesta Setalvad should be arrested?” He says, “Whatever your answer, the implications are horrendous,” adding, “If your answer to the question is ‘yes,’ don’t you think it is tragic that the Supreme Court has taken upon itself to unilaterally decide who should be arrested and why? That is certainly not the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, as we know it, except in the case of contempt of court. And, even in a case of contempt, the Supreme Court hears the alleged contemnor before judgment and arrest.” Then he examines the possibility that the SC did not suggest Teesta Setalvad’s arrest and requests them to “please explain or get someone to explain what prompted the Anti-Terrorism Squad to drive or fly down to Mumbai to arrest Teesta?” The entire piece may be read here.

Delhi University Professor Apoorvanand, who has himself faced the wrath of a vindictive regime, has also penned a piece about Setalvad in Scroll. In the piece titled How India has become a land of conspiracies that turns warriors battling injustice into villains, he refers to the SC’s observations in the Zakia Jafri case and writes, “We are in a world in which language is puffed up to appear as bombastic as the alleged action itself. Reading FIRs and charge sheets filed by the Indian police always violates one’s linguistic sensibility. Now court judgments have started competing with them.” He adds, “What is common to all these is that the victims of violence or the people speaking on their behalf or working to secure justice for them have themselves been turned into conspirators. They have been accused of conspiring against the state itself, either to defame it or destablize it. The state and “the leader” have become synonymous.” The entire piece may be read here.

Gujarat High Court advocate Anand Yagnik also held a meeting at his office that was attended by other lawyers, civil society members and journalists. He was quoted by media persons as saying, “This order, particularly the questionable observations, go beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court had only one point to decide on — whether an FIR had to be registered or not (against the then state functionaries who had allegedly derelicted their duty). The Supreme Court at the most could have said that there is no prima facie evidence on the basis of the investigation by SIT for registering an FIR.” He further asked, “We have never ever come across an instance in a judgement delivered by the Supreme Court which says ‘it (pursuing legal remedies) is malicious’. Where is the ground for them to say it is malicious?”

At the same gathering senior Supreme Court advocate Kamini Jaiswal reportedly said that the observations of the Supreme Court in para 88 of the judgment were “completely illegal, unconstitutional and violates every tenet of law and fundamental rights.”

In an opinion piece in NDTV, senior journalist Sagarika Ghose pointed out the curious coincidence of Teesta Setalvad’s arrest taking place on the anniversary of the day Emergency was declared in 1975. In the piece titled Opinion: Teesta Setalvad's Arrest Shows Spread Of "Emergency Mindset", Ghose writes, “The timing was eerie. On June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency. On that very day, over four decades later, on June 25, 2022, civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad was dragged out of her Mumbai home by the Gujarat police which barged into her house and marched her out into a waiting police jeep. On the same day, former Gujarat police officer RB Sreekumar was arrested in Ahmedabad. As India recalled the 1975 June day when Indira Gandhi's police hauled dozens of Opposition politicians and journalists to jail, in a stark reminder, on the same day, India again saw state power bearing down on an individual citizen.” The piece may be read here.

Related:

Teesta Setalvad applies for bail
Review order and withdraw observations against Teesta Setalvad and whistleblowers: CCG to SC
Gujarat court remands Teesta Setalvad to judicial custody
Suo motu clarify Zakia Jafri case judgment's intention to not prosecute Teesta Setalvad: Citizens to CJI
Free Teesta Setalvad: A week in the life of a brave human rights defender

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Haryana: DPS teacher named in teen’s suicide note to return to teach?

The deceased's mother claims that the Academic Head, who had been charged with abetment to suicide four months ago, is all set to return to her post after getting bail

07 Jul 2022

DPS TeacherRepresentational Image

It has been four months since a Class 10 student at Delhi Public School (DPS), Greater Faridabad, died by suicide on February 24, 2022. In his final communication, the c

hild blamed fellow students and the Academic Head for his death. Yet, the mother claimed recently, that the named teacher has not only been granted bail, but may resume teaching as well.

On July 6, the mother held a virtual press conference to talk about her police complaint against the school and the negligence by authorities. According to the mother, the child was undergoing therapy due to prolonged bullying, sexual harassment and assault. Even when her son complained to the school administration, the mother claimed the teachers took no action. Instead, they accused the mother-son duo of taking undue advantage of his mental health issues.

“I was threatened that my son will be held back in his class if we continue with the complaints,” said the mother.

This violates the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act’s (POCSO Act) guidelines that mandates the reporting of any sexual offence via a School Complaints Committee. However, the mother – who used to work in the school – said the institution has no POCSO mechanism in place. She went on to say that the school has no gender sensitisation programme either.

Although the website shows a ‘Reflective workshop on gender identity, cyber navigation & wellness’, school authorities confirmed to SabrangIndia that the workshop topic changes annually.

Apathy of police

Two days after her son’s death, the mother approached the BPTP police to complain about her son’s ordeal. She talked about her son’s experiences since Class 6 and shared voice notes by her son with the police on April 11. In his last communication, the boy named the senior academic coordinator and others. The academic coordinator was arrested on February 27 by the Haryana police under Section 306, abetment of suicide.

Yet, as per the mother’s account there was no chargesheet. Moreover, the academic coordinator was subsequently granted bail. It may be noted that abetment to suicide is a non-bailable offence.

LGBTQIA+ group Yes, We Exist – which offered its support to the mother – said quoting sources that the academic coordinator “is likely to be reinstated by DPS and shall start teaching Class 11-12 students this month. Meanwhile, the mother, who was a teacher in the same school has been unlawfully terminated from her job following her child’s death.”

The mother accused the police and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of diluting charges and intentionally delaying the investigation to give the school sufficient time to build its defence. She also accused the police of leaking the evidence material, shared by her, with the school, as parts of it were used by the academic coordinator during her bail hearing.

SabrangIndia contacted the school regarding the details of the accused’s employment in school, and is awaiting their response. Meanwhile, the mother has been running pillar to post for the last four months.

She met Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, Women and Child Welfare Association Panchkula, CWC Faridabad, CP Faridabad, DCP, ACP, SHO but to no avail. Although her complaint to Vij against the SIT Head resulted in new officials investigating the case, no action has been taken till now. According to Yes, We Exist, the police intend to investigate Instagram and other social media accounts of the nine students accused in the case.

“This we think is unnecessary and simply a tactic to waste time or find some material to shift the blame falsely on the boy,” said Yes, We Exist founder Jeet.

Weeks into the incident, the school claimed that most of the students named by the mother had left the place.

Dubious moves by school

Shortly after voicing her complaints about her son’s death, the mother received a letter stating she was “relieved from her services”. Similarly, the accused teacher also received a letter that said she was “temporarily relieved” from her services. This has caused considerable confusion for the mother who is the sole earning member of her family.

Although she acknowledged that she received her salary in keeping with the three months notice period clause in her contract, she said, “There is still no clarity from the school. I asked the school what do you mean by relieving me from services?”

This is not the first time the mother had complaints about the school functioning. During his therapy, the boy was diagnosed with dyslexia and as such was entitled to a writer for his exams. However, during his recent exams, the accused teacher refused to give the boy a scribe stating that he will manage.

“He was denied a scribe and he was left alone in the exam room. The teachers knew about his condition. Speaking to his friends, he had said 90 percent of problems were the school’s fault,” she said.

In a ‘Living With Dignity’ report by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in 2019, Educational and training opportunities are often denied to LGBTQ persons due to harassment, bullying, and violence. While the boy never confirmed his sexual orientation, he was constantly abused with slurs merely on the suspicion that he might be gay.

Life of a non-conformist

The 15-year-old boy was interested in jewellery. His mother recalled he had asked for piercings on both his ears to test his handmade products but was scolded for this at school. The accused teacher kept him from wearing studs, although girls were allowed to wear the jewellery. The mother and son were scolded for the same.

Her mother tried to make sure there was no pressure on his mind. She requested his teachers not to scold him publicly or directly, considering his depression, but to talk to his school counsellor. Yet, it was the mother who was told to “explain” to the child. The boy also found it difficult to voice his few complaints to the female teachers. The mother also claimed that the nine accused students threatened the boy about his mother to keep him quiet.

“My child was called over-sensitive. Being abused daily cannot allow the child to “take it easy,” she said.

Worse still, the mother learnt that her colleagues shared similar experiences in their children’s lives. It is for this reason that the mother is fighting for the application of POCSO guidelines in all schools.

“Every child should know their rights… I’m glad that youths nowadays understand but there are still people who do not understand,” she said.

Related:

Beyond Pride Month: Where is the commitment to Equal Rights?
Indian women, transgender and non-binary persons in science: A 21st Century calendar by TLoS
The Supremacy Myth
When a judge allows himself to be counselled, justice can mean a transformation
I am not fully ‘woke’: Madras HC judge to start psychology sessions to understand same sex relationships

Haryana: DPS teacher named in teen’s suicide note to return to teach?

The deceased's mother claims that the Academic Head, who had been charged with abetment to suicide four months ago, is all set to return to her post after getting bail

DPS TeacherRepresentational Image

It has been four months since a Class 10 student at Delhi Public School (DPS), Greater Faridabad, died by suicide on February 24, 2022. In his final communication, the c

hild blamed fellow students and the Academic Head for his death. Yet, the mother claimed recently, that the named teacher has not only been granted bail, but may resume teaching as well.

On July 6, the mother held a virtual press conference to talk about her police complaint against the school and the negligence by authorities. According to the mother, the child was undergoing therapy due to prolonged bullying, sexual harassment and assault. Even when her son complained to the school administration, the mother claimed the teachers took no action. Instead, they accused the mother-son duo of taking undue advantage of his mental health issues.

“I was threatened that my son will be held back in his class if we continue with the complaints,” said the mother.

This violates the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act’s (POCSO Act) guidelines that mandates the reporting of any sexual offence via a School Complaints Committee. However, the mother – who used to work in the school – said the institution has no POCSO mechanism in place. She went on to say that the school has no gender sensitisation programme either.

Although the website shows a ‘Reflective workshop on gender identity, cyber navigation & wellness’, school authorities confirmed to SabrangIndia that the workshop topic changes annually.

Apathy of police

Two days after her son’s death, the mother approached the BPTP police to complain about her son’s ordeal. She talked about her son’s experiences since Class 6 and shared voice notes by her son with the police on April 11. In his last communication, the boy named the senior academic coordinator and others. The academic coordinator was arrested on February 27 by the Haryana police under Section 306, abetment of suicide.

Yet, as per the mother’s account there was no chargesheet. Moreover, the academic coordinator was subsequently granted bail. It may be noted that abetment to suicide is a non-bailable offence.

LGBTQIA+ group Yes, We Exist – which offered its support to the mother – said quoting sources that the academic coordinator “is likely to be reinstated by DPS and shall start teaching Class 11-12 students this month. Meanwhile, the mother, who was a teacher in the same school has been unlawfully terminated from her job following her child’s death.”

The mother accused the police and the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of diluting charges and intentionally delaying the investigation to give the school sufficient time to build its defence. She also accused the police of leaking the evidence material, shared by her, with the school, as parts of it were used by the academic coordinator during her bail hearing.

SabrangIndia contacted the school regarding the details of the accused’s employment in school, and is awaiting their response. Meanwhile, the mother has been running pillar to post for the last four months.

She met Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij, Women and Child Welfare Association Panchkula, CWC Faridabad, CP Faridabad, DCP, ACP, SHO but to no avail. Although her complaint to Vij against the SIT Head resulted in new officials investigating the case, no action has been taken till now. According to Yes, We Exist, the police intend to investigate Instagram and other social media accounts of the nine students accused in the case.

“This we think is unnecessary and simply a tactic to waste time or find some material to shift the blame falsely on the boy,” said Yes, We Exist founder Jeet.

Weeks into the incident, the school claimed that most of the students named by the mother had left the place.

Dubious moves by school

Shortly after voicing her complaints about her son’s death, the mother received a letter stating she was “relieved from her services”. Similarly, the accused teacher also received a letter that said she was “temporarily relieved” from her services. This has caused considerable confusion for the mother who is the sole earning member of her family.

Although she acknowledged that she received her salary in keeping with the three months notice period clause in her contract, she said, “There is still no clarity from the school. I asked the school what do you mean by relieving me from services?”

This is not the first time the mother had complaints about the school functioning. During his therapy, the boy was diagnosed with dyslexia and as such was entitled to a writer for his exams. However, during his recent exams, the accused teacher refused to give the boy a scribe stating that he will manage.

“He was denied a scribe and he was left alone in the exam room. The teachers knew about his condition. Speaking to his friends, he had said 90 percent of problems were the school’s fault,” she said.

In a ‘Living With Dignity’ report by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in 2019, Educational and training opportunities are often denied to LGBTQ persons due to harassment, bullying, and violence. While the boy never confirmed his sexual orientation, he was constantly abused with slurs merely on the suspicion that he might be gay.

Life of a non-conformist

The 15-year-old boy was interested in jewellery. His mother recalled he had asked for piercings on both his ears to test his handmade products but was scolded for this at school. The accused teacher kept him from wearing studs, although girls were allowed to wear the jewellery. The mother and son were scolded for the same.

Her mother tried to make sure there was no pressure on his mind. She requested his teachers not to scold him publicly or directly, considering his depression, but to talk to his school counsellor. Yet, it was the mother who was told to “explain” to the child. The boy also found it difficult to voice his few complaints to the female teachers. The mother also claimed that the nine accused students threatened the boy about his mother to keep him quiet.

“My child was called over-sensitive. Being abused daily cannot allow the child to “take it easy,” she said.

Worse still, the mother learnt that her colleagues shared similar experiences in their children’s lives. It is for this reason that the mother is fighting for the application of POCSO guidelines in all schools.

“Every child should know their rights… I’m glad that youths nowadays understand but there are still people who do not understand,” she said.

Related:

Beyond Pride Month: Where is the commitment to Equal Rights?
Indian women, transgender and non-binary persons in science: A 21st Century calendar by TLoS
The Supremacy Myth
When a judge allows himself to be counselled, justice can mean a transformation
I am not fully ‘woke’: Madras HC judge to start psychology sessions to understand same sex relationships

Related Articles


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Videos

Archives

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Analysis

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Review order and withdraw observations against Teesta Setalvad and whistleblowers: CCG to SC

Group of former civil servants asks if constitutional right to approach courts can be treated in so cavalier and revengeful a fashion that the persons seeking justice are put behind bars?

07 Jul 2022

CCGImage Courtesy: indiatoday.in

The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a group of former civil servants, has made an open statement on the Supreme Court order in the Zakia Jafri case, saying that they “are deeply anguished by some of the contents of that judgement and the arrests that have followed in its wake.”

As many as 92 people including former Mumbai top cop Julio Ribeiro, activist Aruna Roy, former secretary of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) PSS Thomas, former Home Secretary GK Pillai, former Joint Commissioner of Police (Delhi) Maxwell Pereira have signed the statement.  

The CCG says, “It is not just the dismissal of the appeal that has surprised people - an appeal may, after all, be allowed or dismissed by an appellate court; it is the gratuitous comments that the bench has pronounced on the appellants and the counsel and the supporters of the appellants.”

The group also minced no words in describing the shocking aftermath of the judgment, saying, “The immediate action of the state in arresting human rights lawyer Teesta Setalvad and former DGP, RB Sreekumar, as well as filing a fresh case against Sanjiv Bhatt, who is already in prison, clearly occurred because the Supreme Court told the State government authorities to put those who ‘kept the pot boiling’ ‘in the dock’, though these persons were neither the appellants nor the accused in the case.”

The CCG asked two important questions regarding the very fundamentals of natural justice, “Can the constitutional right to approach courts be treated in so cavalier and revengeful a fashion that the persons seeking justice are put behind bars? Shall we henceforth presume that natural justice can be given the go-by as a cardinal principle of our jurisprudence and people condemned without being heard?”

The group expressed distress at the Courts observations and said, “We would urge the Supreme Court Justices to suo motu review their order and withdraw the observations contained in Para 88.” Refering to remarks made by Justice Madan Lokur, the CCG said, “We would also request them (the Supreme Court) to adopt the course of action advocated by a distinguished former member of their fraternity, Justice Madan Lokur. He has said that the court would do well to issue a clarification to the effect that it was not their intention that Teesta Setalvad should face arrest and at the same time order her unconditional release.”

The entire statement will the full list of signatories may be viewed here:

Related:

Free Teesta Setalvad: A week in the life of a brave human rights defender
Free Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi sisterhood shows support for the human rights defender
Press Release: Teesta questioned for around four hours: Javed Anand
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta doing okay so far in police custody: Javed Anand
Free Teesta Setalvad: Support and demands for justice growing
Free Teesta Setalvad: India’s unequivocal demand
Huge outpouring of solidarity and support for Teesta Setalvad
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

Review order and withdraw observations against Teesta Setalvad and whistleblowers: CCG to SC

Group of former civil servants asks if constitutional right to approach courts can be treated in so cavalier and revengeful a fashion that the persons seeking justice are put behind bars?

CCGImage Courtesy: indiatoday.in

The Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), a group of former civil servants, has made an open statement on the Supreme Court order in the Zakia Jafri case, saying that they “are deeply anguished by some of the contents of that judgement and the arrests that have followed in its wake.”

As many as 92 people including former Mumbai top cop Julio Ribeiro, activist Aruna Roy, former secretary of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) PSS Thomas, former Home Secretary GK Pillai, former Joint Commissioner of Police (Delhi) Maxwell Pereira have signed the statement.  

The CCG says, “It is not just the dismissal of the appeal that has surprised people - an appeal may, after all, be allowed or dismissed by an appellate court; it is the gratuitous comments that the bench has pronounced on the appellants and the counsel and the supporters of the appellants.”

The group also minced no words in describing the shocking aftermath of the judgment, saying, “The immediate action of the state in arresting human rights lawyer Teesta Setalvad and former DGP, RB Sreekumar, as well as filing a fresh case against Sanjiv Bhatt, who is already in prison, clearly occurred because the Supreme Court told the State government authorities to put those who ‘kept the pot boiling’ ‘in the dock’, though these persons were neither the appellants nor the accused in the case.”

The CCG asked two important questions regarding the very fundamentals of natural justice, “Can the constitutional right to approach courts be treated in so cavalier and revengeful a fashion that the persons seeking justice are put behind bars? Shall we henceforth presume that natural justice can be given the go-by as a cardinal principle of our jurisprudence and people condemned without being heard?”

The group expressed distress at the Courts observations and said, “We would urge the Supreme Court Justices to suo motu review their order and withdraw the observations contained in Para 88.” Refering to remarks made by Justice Madan Lokur, the CCG said, “We would also request them (the Supreme Court) to adopt the course of action advocated by a distinguished former member of their fraternity, Justice Madan Lokur. He has said that the court would do well to issue a clarification to the effect that it was not their intention that Teesta Setalvad should face arrest and at the same time order her unconditional release.”

The entire statement will the full list of signatories may be viewed here:

Related:

Free Teesta Setalvad: A week in the life of a brave human rights defender
Free Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi sisterhood shows support for the human rights defender
Press Release: Teesta questioned for around four hours: Javed Anand
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta doing okay so far in police custody: Javed Anand
Free Teesta Setalvad: Support and demands for justice growing
Free Teesta Setalvad: India’s unequivocal demand
Huge outpouring of solidarity and support for Teesta Setalvad
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

Related Articles


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Teesta Setalvad's arrest shows how our rights are being trampled upon: Rights groups

Nearly a fortnight after her arrest, support for the 60-year-old grows stronger

06 Jul 2022

Free Teesta

The fact that journalist, activist and educationist Teesta Setalvad is even today a shining beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for many ordinary Indians is evident in how the demands for her release are growing with each passing day.

The latest solidarity statement was made in Raichur on July 4, 2022 when the Karnataka Janashakti held its third state conference. According to The Hindu, various social movements representatives gathered on the first day of the event. Setalvad was supposed to inaugurate the event, prior to her sudden arrest by Gujarat ATS. Days after her arrest, former Gujarat State DGP R B Sreekumar was also arrested. To condemn this absence, attendees waved black flags and raised slogans protesting her arrest.

Progressive writer Rahamat Tarikere delivered the inaugural address in her stead, expressing concern over the increasing arrests of activists and writers for criticising the government. He talked about how people are put behind bars not for doing crimes but opposing crimes.

“Writers, journalists, activists, and artists such as stand-up comedians who opposed the State for its anti-people and peace-disturbing governance are subjected to suppression. Threat, assault and jail, and even murder, have become the order of the day. We are in such a pathetic and dangerous situation where journalists who were supposed to condemn the atrocities on their fellow professionals are celebrating the attacks,” Mr. Tarikere told The Hindu.

The speech came a day after solidarity protests in Kolkata and Chennai. The Association for Protection fo Democratic Rights (APDR) members flooded the streets of West Bengal’s capital. Thousands gathered on June 3 to condemn the targeted attack on Setalvad, Sreekumar and other whistle-blower Sanjiv Bhatt.

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Similarly, the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) held yet another demonstration in support of Setalvad, this time in Kolkata. Members decried the highhandedness of the regime and demanded the immediate release of the journalist and other human rights defenders.

Free Teesta

On June 2, the Chennai Chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) organised a gathering to condemn the arrest of Alt News co-founder Zubair Ahmed, Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt. The event was organised by advocate V. Suresh and Jayaram Venkatesan. People sang songs of solidarity in support of the activist and others.

Simultaneously, the PUCL ran another protest in Coimbatore with an all-party delegation in front of the Coimbatore South Taluk office. According to The Hindu, protesters called it a "bad precedent" to victimise Setalvad and Sreekumar and compared the current status quo to an "undeclared emergency".

Meanwhile, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also voiced deep concern about India’s free speech and religious freedom conditions. Commissioner David Curry said, “USCIRF is concerned about the Indian government’s continued repression of critical voices— especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them.”

This tweet was accompanied by an article that covered Setalvad’s ordeal. In the same Twitter thread, Commissioner Stephen Schneck said, “Human rights advocates, journalists, activists, and faith leaders in India face harassment for speaking out and reporting religious freedom conditions. This is not reflective of a country with a history of democracy.”

This was coupled with an article on Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair’s arrest.

 

The USCIRF recommended that India be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including the repression of critical voices speaking out against these violations.

According to The Hindu, the Government of India took umbrage to this statement. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson responded to the tweets by saying, “USCIRF continues to misrepresent facts time and again in its statements and reports in pursuance of its motivated agenda. Such actions only serve to strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organization.” It accused the U.S. State department of vote bank politics, “biased and inaccurate” comments that showed a lack of understanding of India’s constitutional framework, plurality and democratic ethos.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury too condemned the “travesty” of the Supreme Court vacation bench order that led to Setalvad's arrest and 14 day custody.

“This is sheer vendetta. A larger SC bench must review this Order,” he said.

The social media handle of the Indian National Congress shared a video describing Setalvad’s plight in recent years.

Aside from these, many opinion pieces in support of Setalvad and her work have been written in the Times of India, The Tribune, Deccan Herald, The Wire, Sarvoday Jagat, The Hindu and many other publications.

Related:

Mapping solidarity: 26 protests so far demanding Teesta Setalvad’s release
Gujarat court remands Teesta Setalvad to judicial custody
A week in the life of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad
Farmers demand answers: What happened to written promises?

Teesta Setalvad's arrest shows how our rights are being trampled upon: Rights groups

Nearly a fortnight after her arrest, support for the 60-year-old grows stronger

Free Teesta

The fact that journalist, activist and educationist Teesta Setalvad is even today a shining beacon of hope and a source of inspiration for many ordinary Indians is evident in how the demands for her release are growing with each passing day.

The latest solidarity statement was made in Raichur on July 4, 2022 when the Karnataka Janashakti held its third state conference. According to The Hindu, various social movements representatives gathered on the first day of the event. Setalvad was supposed to inaugurate the event, prior to her sudden arrest by Gujarat ATS. Days after her arrest, former Gujarat State DGP R B Sreekumar was also arrested. To condemn this absence, attendees waved black flags and raised slogans protesting her arrest.

Progressive writer Rahamat Tarikere delivered the inaugural address in her stead, expressing concern over the increasing arrests of activists and writers for criticising the government. He talked about how people are put behind bars not for doing crimes but opposing crimes.

“Writers, journalists, activists, and artists such as stand-up comedians who opposed the State for its anti-people and peace-disturbing governance are subjected to suppression. Threat, assault and jail, and even murder, have become the order of the day. We are in such a pathetic and dangerous situation where journalists who were supposed to condemn the atrocities on their fellow professionals are celebrating the attacks,” Mr. Tarikere told The Hindu.

The speech came a day after solidarity protests in Kolkata and Chennai. The Association for Protection fo Democratic Rights (APDR) members flooded the streets of West Bengal’s capital. Thousands gathered on June 3 to condemn the targeted attack on Setalvad, Sreekumar and other whistle-blower Sanjiv Bhatt.

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Similarly, the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) held yet another demonstration in support of Setalvad, this time in Kolkata. Members decried the highhandedness of the regime and demanded the immediate release of the journalist and other human rights defenders.

Free Teesta

On June 2, the Chennai Chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) organised a gathering to condemn the arrest of Alt News co-founder Zubair Ahmed, Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt. The event was organised by advocate V. Suresh and Jayaram Venkatesan. People sang songs of solidarity in support of the activist and others.

Simultaneously, the PUCL ran another protest in Coimbatore with an all-party delegation in front of the Coimbatore South Taluk office. According to The Hindu, protesters called it a "bad precedent" to victimise Setalvad and Sreekumar and compared the current status quo to an "undeclared emergency".

Meanwhile, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also voiced deep concern about India’s free speech and religious freedom conditions. Commissioner David Curry said, “USCIRF is concerned about the Indian government’s continued repression of critical voices— especially religious minorities and those reporting on and advocating for them.”

This tweet was accompanied by an article that covered Setalvad’s ordeal. In the same Twitter thread, Commissioner Stephen Schneck said, “Human rights advocates, journalists, activists, and faith leaders in India face harassment for speaking out and reporting religious freedom conditions. This is not reflective of a country with a history of democracy.”

This was coupled with an article on Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair’s arrest.

 

The USCIRF recommended that India be designated as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, including the repression of critical voices speaking out against these violations.

According to The Hindu, the Government of India took umbrage to this statement. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson responded to the tweets by saying, “USCIRF continues to misrepresent facts time and again in its statements and reports in pursuance of its motivated agenda. Such actions only serve to strengthen concerns about the credibility and objectivity of the organization.” It accused the U.S. State department of vote bank politics, “biased and inaccurate” comments that showed a lack of understanding of India’s constitutional framework, plurality and democratic ethos.

Meanwhile, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury too condemned the “travesty” of the Supreme Court vacation bench order that led to Setalvad's arrest and 14 day custody.

“This is sheer vendetta. A larger SC bench must review this Order,” he said.

The social media handle of the Indian National Congress shared a video describing Setalvad’s plight in recent years.

Aside from these, many opinion pieces in support of Setalvad and her work have been written in the Times of India, The Tribune, Deccan Herald, The Wire, Sarvoday Jagat, The Hindu and many other publications.

Related:

Mapping solidarity: 26 protests so far demanding Teesta Setalvad’s release
Gujarat court remands Teesta Setalvad to judicial custody
A week in the life of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad
Farmers demand answers: What happened to written promises?

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New Delhi: Homes in yet another low-income neighbourhood demolished

Delhi authorities demolish huts, even anganwadis, but leave the gaushala intact

06 Jul 2022

Demolition

In yet another example of cold-hearted eviction and demolition, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) bulldozed over 60 tenements in Gyaspur Basti on July 6, 2022. The demolition took place even though people provided authorities with documents proving their right to their dwellings.

Gyaspur Basti opposite Sarai Kale Khan, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi is a 40-year-old settlement that houses over 600 residents. The mixed community here includes daily wage earners, domestic workers, rail-track workers, some people from marginalised communities, etc.

Residents say they have identity documents that make them eligible for staying put in their homes until proper provisions for resettlement are made for them. However, their documents were deemed irrelevant by the DDA authorities who claimed the land of the basti belonged to their department. Therefore, on June 27 the DDA with the Delhi Police carried out demolitions, allegedly without the legally-mandated four weeks notice to residents. By June 28, the Delhi Housing Rights Task Force (DHRTF) along with other activists and residents produced a stay order from the Delhi High Court.

The applicants pointed out that there was no counting of the number of houses and the cost and impact of a required rehabilitation of these residents. 33 households got a stay order from the Delhi High court to maintain status quo till July 11. Another 43 households intend to file their pleas in the high court.

Demolition

 

Yet, on Wednesday, the DDA and police blatantly ignored the stay order and carried out more demolitions. According to DHRTF member Rashee Mehra, 43 houses were destroyed today when the bulldozers arrived at 9 A.M. Another 23 houses were destroyed on Tuesday.

Shockingly, while the DDA did not spare a nine-month pregnant woman from the demolition, the gaushalas in the area were kept intact. Even the anganwadi in the area was destroyed compelling the DHRTF to point out that “this angle has become ever present” in Delhi evictions.

Already, Delhi has witnessed multiple evictions in the past months starting with the Jahangirpuri demolition. The DDA also tried to demolish parts of Shaheen Bagh but the locals came together to prevent the destruction.

“Good that you want to protect cows but why break houses before July 11 as per the court order? Some people couldn’t even get their stuff before the demolition started. They fought with the officials and some people managed to save their horses and other belongings,” said Mehra.

Regarding the destruction of anganwadi, the DHRTF sent a letter to the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on July 5. Acknowledging the same, the DCPCR sent a notice to the DDA demanding a status report by July 14.

In it, senior Consultant Mohammad Salam Khan noted that the eviction came amidst surging Covid-19 cases in the city during the monsoon. This renders the children and residents of the basti extremely helpless.

“The forced evictions would have a direct implication on children’s health and well-being, it would be in the fitness of things that the High Court’s judgement is complied with and that the DDA imposes a stay on the evictions as well as such threats of evictions,” said Khan.

He further advised the DDA to ensure provisions of alternate residence and proper rehabilitation to ensure children’s safety.

Related:

Allegations of selective demolitions are false, Due process of law followed: UP gov’t to SC
Hate Offender: Who is Maulana Tauqeer Raza?
Karnataka Police allegedly harass West Bengal migrants in Bengaluru
Serve at Cow Shelter for a Month, Bail Condition to Slaughter Accused: Allahabad HC

New Delhi: Homes in yet another low-income neighbourhood demolished

Delhi authorities demolish huts, even anganwadis, but leave the gaushala intact

Demolition

In yet another example of cold-hearted eviction and demolition, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) bulldozed over 60 tenements in Gyaspur Basti on July 6, 2022. The demolition took place even though people provided authorities with documents proving their right to their dwellings.

Gyaspur Basti opposite Sarai Kale Khan, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi is a 40-year-old settlement that houses over 600 residents. The mixed community here includes daily wage earners, domestic workers, rail-track workers, some people from marginalised communities, etc.

Residents say they have identity documents that make them eligible for staying put in their homes until proper provisions for resettlement are made for them. However, their documents were deemed irrelevant by the DDA authorities who claimed the land of the basti belonged to their department. Therefore, on June 27 the DDA with the Delhi Police carried out demolitions, allegedly without the legally-mandated four weeks notice to residents. By June 28, the Delhi Housing Rights Task Force (DHRTF) along with other activists and residents produced a stay order from the Delhi High Court.

The applicants pointed out that there was no counting of the number of houses and the cost and impact of a required rehabilitation of these residents. 33 households got a stay order from the Delhi High court to maintain status quo till July 11. Another 43 households intend to file their pleas in the high court.

Demolition

 

Yet, on Wednesday, the DDA and police blatantly ignored the stay order and carried out more demolitions. According to DHRTF member Rashee Mehra, 43 houses were destroyed today when the bulldozers arrived at 9 A.M. Another 23 houses were destroyed on Tuesday.

Shockingly, while the DDA did not spare a nine-month pregnant woman from the demolition, the gaushalas in the area were kept intact. Even the anganwadi in the area was destroyed compelling the DHRTF to point out that “this angle has become ever present” in Delhi evictions.

Already, Delhi has witnessed multiple evictions in the past months starting with the Jahangirpuri demolition. The DDA also tried to demolish parts of Shaheen Bagh but the locals came together to prevent the destruction.

“Good that you want to protect cows but why break houses before July 11 as per the court order? Some people couldn’t even get their stuff before the demolition started. They fought with the officials and some people managed to save their horses and other belongings,” said Mehra.

Regarding the destruction of anganwadi, the DHRTF sent a letter to the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) on July 5. Acknowledging the same, the DCPCR sent a notice to the DDA demanding a status report by July 14.

In it, senior Consultant Mohammad Salam Khan noted that the eviction came amidst surging Covid-19 cases in the city during the monsoon. This renders the children and residents of the basti extremely helpless.

“The forced evictions would have a direct implication on children’s health and well-being, it would be in the fitness of things that the High Court’s judgement is complied with and that the DDA imposes a stay on the evictions as well as such threats of evictions,” said Khan.

He further advised the DDA to ensure provisions of alternate residence and proper rehabilitation to ensure children’s safety.

Related:

Allegations of selective demolitions are false, Due process of law followed: UP gov’t to SC
Hate Offender: Who is Maulana Tauqeer Raza?
Karnataka Police allegedly harass West Bengal migrants in Bengaluru
Serve at Cow Shelter for a Month, Bail Condition to Slaughter Accused: Allahabad HC

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Alt New denies allegations of foreign funding

On Monday, the organisations issued a statement denying all such allegations

05 Jul 2022

Foreign FundingImage Courtesy: newsroompost.com

Fact-checking website Alt News issued a statement on July 4, 2022 denying any receipt of foreign funds following allegations against it and its parent organisation Pravda Media Foundation. The clarification came shortly after the Delhi police accused Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair of receiving foreign donations amounting to ₹ 2 lakh.

On June 27, Zubair was arrested for allegedly promoting enmity between groups and hurting religious sentiments via a 2018 tweet. He was sent to four days of police custody when on July 2, the Delhi police further accused him of receiving donations from Pakistan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Delhi court then denied bail to Zubair and sent him to 14 days’ judicial custody.

Two days after this, Alt News issued a statement that its payment platform does not allow receipt of foreign donations.

“All of this is an attempt to shut down the very critical work that we do, and we will fight this attempt to shut us down and come out on top,” said Alt News.

The statements called all allegations categorically false. It said the organisation has only received donations via Indian bank accounts and the donated amount goes to the organisation’s account.

“The allegation that individuals associated with the organisation have received funds in their personal accounts is also false since the individuals associated with the organisation only get monthly remuneration,” said Alt News.

Shortly afterwards, it posted another update that said their payment platform RazorPay had disabled their account. By Tuesday, the payment platform said that it had temporarily disabled their account on receiving a request from police authorities and had re-activated the same after "getting some clarity." However, as per an updated Alt News statement, RazorPay handed over donor data to the police without informing the organisation.

In keeping with government regulations, donation forms ask for a person’s email address, phone number, PAN card number, address. Regarding the whole incident, Alt News said it will be shifting to a new payment platform.

Over the week or so since Zubair’s arrest both the organisation and the journalist received overwhelming support. About 150 concerned citizens gave out a statement on July 1 demanding his immediate release.

“It is ironical that on the same day as Mr. Zubair’s arrest, India along with G7 countries, signed the ‘2022 Resilient Democracies Statement’, wherein the Indian government committed to “guarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors” and “protecting the freedom of expression and opinion online and offline”,” said the statement.

On June 30, The Hindu ex-Editor in Chief wrote an article against Zubair’s “laughable charges”. Similarly, the Press Club of India too condemned the arrest.

 

 

Related:

AltNews’s Mohammed Zubair remanded to four-day police custody
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Allahabad HC refuses to quash FIR against Alt News Founder Mohammed Zubair
How are religious sentiments hurt when blatant hate speech is exposed by a journalist?
BJP dumps spokesperson Nupur Sharma, Naveen K. Jindal in damage control move
Millat Times Editor booked for sharing Kanpur violence videos!

Alt New denies allegations of foreign funding

On Monday, the organisations issued a statement denying all such allegations

Foreign FundingImage Courtesy: newsroompost.com

Fact-checking website Alt News issued a statement on July 4, 2022 denying any receipt of foreign funds following allegations against it and its parent organisation Pravda Media Foundation. The clarification came shortly after the Delhi police accused Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair of receiving foreign donations amounting to ₹ 2 lakh.

On June 27, Zubair was arrested for allegedly promoting enmity between groups and hurting religious sentiments via a 2018 tweet. He was sent to four days of police custody when on July 2, the Delhi police further accused him of receiving donations from Pakistan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The Delhi court then denied bail to Zubair and sent him to 14 days’ judicial custody.

Two days after this, Alt News issued a statement that its payment platform does not allow receipt of foreign donations.

“All of this is an attempt to shut down the very critical work that we do, and we will fight this attempt to shut us down and come out on top,” said Alt News.

The statements called all allegations categorically false. It said the organisation has only received donations via Indian bank accounts and the donated amount goes to the organisation’s account.

“The allegation that individuals associated with the organisation have received funds in their personal accounts is also false since the individuals associated with the organisation only get monthly remuneration,” said Alt News.

Shortly afterwards, it posted another update that said their payment platform RazorPay had disabled their account. By Tuesday, the payment platform said that it had temporarily disabled their account on receiving a request from police authorities and had re-activated the same after "getting some clarity." However, as per an updated Alt News statement, RazorPay handed over donor data to the police without informing the organisation.

In keeping with government regulations, donation forms ask for a person’s email address, phone number, PAN card number, address. Regarding the whole incident, Alt News said it will be shifting to a new payment platform.

Over the week or so since Zubair’s arrest both the organisation and the journalist received overwhelming support. About 150 concerned citizens gave out a statement on July 1 demanding his immediate release.

“It is ironical that on the same day as Mr. Zubair’s arrest, India along with G7 countries, signed the ‘2022 Resilient Democracies Statement’, wherein the Indian government committed to “guarding the freedom, independence and diversity of civil society actors” and “protecting the freedom of expression and opinion online and offline”,” said the statement.

On June 30, The Hindu ex-Editor in Chief wrote an article against Zubair’s “laughable charges”. Similarly, the Press Club of India too condemned the arrest.

 

 

Related:

AltNews’s Mohammed Zubair remanded to four-day police custody
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Allahabad HC refuses to quash FIR against Alt News Founder Mohammed Zubair
How are religious sentiments hurt when blatant hate speech is exposed by a journalist?
BJP dumps spokesperson Nupur Sharma, Naveen K. Jindal in damage control move
Millat Times Editor booked for sharing Kanpur violence videos!

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Mapping solidarity: 26 protests so far demanding Teesta Setalvad’s release

SabrangIndia’s exclusive map also charts cities whose solidarity attempts were thwarted by administration

02 Jul 2022

Protest

Police in parts of India continue to prevent gatherings in support of arrested human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad. By July 2, 2022 there had been 26 solidarity protests across India to demand the immediate release of Setalvad and 2002 Gujarat riots whistle-blowers R. B. Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt. However, two requests for permission were rejected.

A day after the Zakia Jafri case was dismissed by the Supreme Court, the 60-year-old activist was accused of criminal conspiracy and forgery. Former Gujarat State DGP Sreekumar was named as her co-conspirator and arrested as well.

However, many activist collectives, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers have since held protests across various cities of India including local villages like that of Chitrakoot and Sonbhadra to condemn the arrest. There was a protest organised by the lawyers of the Madras High Court condemning the ruling regime for its bulldozer tactics.

Four days after Setalvad's arrest, over 20 city-wide protests, 10 solidarity statements across the globe made the news - all decrying the government for penalising those who demand accountability. By Saturday, the number of protests touched 26, while 12 solidarity statements were issued by rights groups. This includes international groups like the Human Rights Watch, the Frontline Defenders and the WGHR.

The map would have accounted for 28 protests in total but the first one in Bhopal on June 28 was denied permission by the local police. It cited MCC guidelines for rejecting the gathering reported the Free Press Journal.

The other protest was to be held on Saturday, the same day as Setalvad and Sreekumar’s hearing. Yet this time, the Concerned Citizens of Goa received a letter from the Fatorda police station that said it cannot grant permission for a solidarity protest owing to “rise in Covid-19 positive cases and to avoid law and order situation”. Further, the Margao Traffic Cell “strongly objected from traffic point of view”. It may be noted that both of these are BJP-rules states.

All these efforts in support of the voices of dissent can be seen on the following map.

Related:

Mapping solidarity: Citizens stand with Teesta Setalvad
Teesta Setalvad inspires art from behind bars
Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

Mapping solidarity: 26 protests so far demanding Teesta Setalvad’s release

SabrangIndia’s exclusive map also charts cities whose solidarity attempts were thwarted by administration

Protest

Police in parts of India continue to prevent gatherings in support of arrested human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad. By July 2, 2022 there had been 26 solidarity protests across India to demand the immediate release of Setalvad and 2002 Gujarat riots whistle-blowers R. B. Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt. However, two requests for permission were rejected.

A day after the Zakia Jafri case was dismissed by the Supreme Court, the 60-year-old activist was accused of criminal conspiracy and forgery. Former Gujarat State DGP Sreekumar was named as her co-conspirator and arrested as well.

However, many activist collectives, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers have since held protests across various cities of India including local villages like that of Chitrakoot and Sonbhadra to condemn the arrest. There was a protest organised by the lawyers of the Madras High Court condemning the ruling regime for its bulldozer tactics.

Four days after Setalvad's arrest, over 20 city-wide protests, 10 solidarity statements across the globe made the news - all decrying the government for penalising those who demand accountability. By Saturday, the number of protests touched 26, while 12 solidarity statements were issued by rights groups. This includes international groups like the Human Rights Watch, the Frontline Defenders and the WGHR.

The map would have accounted for 28 protests in total but the first one in Bhopal on June 28 was denied permission by the local police. It cited MCC guidelines for rejecting the gathering reported the Free Press Journal.

The other protest was to be held on Saturday, the same day as Setalvad and Sreekumar’s hearing. Yet this time, the Concerned Citizens of Goa received a letter from the Fatorda police station that said it cannot grant permission for a solidarity protest owing to “rise in Covid-19 positive cases and to avoid law and order situation”. Further, the Margao Traffic Cell “strongly objected from traffic point of view”. It may be noted that both of these are BJP-rules states.

All these efforts in support of the voices of dissent can be seen on the following map.

Related:

Mapping solidarity: Citizens stand with Teesta Setalvad
Teesta Setalvad inspires art from behind bars
Ahmedabad court remands Teesta Setalvad to police custody till July 1
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home
I fear for my life: Teesta Setalvad allegedly roughed up by Gujarat ATS personnel

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A week in the life of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad

Support for the journalist and activist continues to grow; as her remand ends, she will be produced before the court on July 2

01 Jul 2022

Free TeestaImage Courtesy: jantakareporter.com

On July 2, it will be exactly a week since Teesta Setalvad, one of India’s most formidable and resilient human rights defenders, was targeted and held captive by a vindictive regime. But as is evident in the burgeoning support for her, both online and on the streets, you may put Teesta Setalvad behind bars, you cannot cage her courage, which is even today inspiring countless others.

The shocking events of June 25, 2022

Just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (PIL) moved by Zakia Jafri seeking a proper investigation into the wider conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat carnage, a team of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) barged into her Mumbai home and detained her.

The petition had been moved by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri, who had been killed during the communal violence in Gulberg Society. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) secretary Teesta Setalvad was the second petitioner in the case that aimed to pin the responsibility of allowing the violence to continue unabated on the people in power in Gujarat at the time.

But deeming this to be a malicious prosecution, the court had observed in its judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

The above extract was quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State, and today, Teesta Setalvad, a fearless human rights defender stands accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery and giving or fabricating false evidence among other IPC sections. Two former police officers, RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt have also been named as her co-conspirators in the FIR. While Bhatt is already in jail under trumped-up charges in a custodial death case, Sreekumar was arrested shortly after Setalvad was picked up.

Setalvad says she was roughed up as she was picked up from her Mumbai home and taken to the Santacruz police station, where she was placed under arrest, and at the time of publishing this press release, was being taken to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch by road.

At about 5:30 P.M, just before being whisked away to Ahmedabad, Setalvad filed a hand written complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. Setalvad says that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived.

In her complaint, Setalvad has also stated that the assault left her with a bruise on her left hand, and that she feared for her life.

In Ahmedabad, Setalvad was formally arrested, and taken for a mandatory medical test on Sunday June 26, before being produced before a magistrate. She was remanded to police custody and her next hearing will take place on June 2.

Teesta Setalvad doing okay in custody

Teesta Setalvad’s activist-journalist husband Javed Anand has met her twice so far. “I met her just before they took her for the mandatory medical check-up. She appeared fine,” he said about meeting her on June 28. “She has no complaints about the food and is also sleeping okay. When I meet her, it is in a room with a table and chair, with police personnel nearby,” he added.

On June 29, he told us, “I met her again today and she told me that she had been questioned by the police for around four hours yesterday.” Setalvad is also being allowed to meet her lawyers. “She seemed relaxed. I was allowed to give her some books for light reading, and some other essential items. She asked me for a copy of The Framing of the Indian Constitution,” said the activist-journalist who co-founded the magazine Communalism Combat as well as SabrangIndia with his human rights defender wife.

Setalvad will now be presented before the magistrate’s court at 2:30 P.M on July 2.

Support from Human Rights groups

The Working Group of Human Rights in India and the United Nations (WGHR) on June 27, 2022 expressed deep concern about the arrest of member Teesta Setalvad by the Government of India.

“It reflects an aggressive abuse of power and law by the State machinery, in grave breach of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to citizens under the Indian Constitution. This turn of events has also raised questions about the Government’s commitments to human rights and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), not just domestically but also at the global level,” said the WGHR in a statement.

Many notable Indian activists such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) General Secretary V. Suresh, National Association of People’s Movements (NAPM) Convenor Medha Patkar, former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas, former Lucknow University Vice Chancellor Rooprekha Verma, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) founder Aruna Roy, Carnatic musician TM Krishna, actor and dancer Mallika Sarabhai, writer and scholar Shabnam Hashmi, poet Gauhar Raza, and over 2,200 others signed a statement condemning the government’s prosecution of the activist and former IPS officers.

They say, “The state has now used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicity. It is truly an Orwellian situation of the lie becoming the truth, when those who fought to establish the truth of what happened in the Gujarat genocide of 2002 are being targeted.”

“We condemn this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalize those who stand for constitutional values and who have struggled against very difficult odds to try to achieve justice for the victims of 2002. We demand that this false and vindictive FIR be taken back unconditionally and Teesta Setalvad and others detained under this FIR be released immediately,” said signatories.

Previously, Elaine Pearson, the Acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) had urged governments at the G-7 summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending at present to raise questions about Setalvad’s arrest. HRW has released a statement saying, “The Indian authorities should immediately release the prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, drop all charges against her & stop their relentless attacks against her.”

“These arrests are clearly reprisals for pursuing justice for victims of the Gujarat riots and attempting to hold those who were in power accountable,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

This is yet another example of international support for Setalvad after Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

Similarly, international humanitarian organisation Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, had also called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

Journalists demand justice for Teesta Setalvad

Closer home, the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the human rights defender’s arrest saying that she has been made a scapegoat “in a chilling process of vendetta unleashed by the executive and the judiciary.” They have further said, “It is unacceptable that a person who has been fighting for civil justice should be accused of fabricating evidence and misleading the Special Investigation Team.” Calling for an end to the “politics of vengeance”, they have also demanded that all charges be dropped against Setalvad and she be released immediately.

In a joint statement, the National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) condemned the “ugly and motivated, hasty arrest” of Setalvad. NAJ President S. K. Pande and DUJ General Secretary Sujata Modhak among others said, “The arrests smack of an increasingly visible undeclared Emergency that is increasingly becoming visible in continued attacks not only on the freedom of the press but on the democratic rights of citizens which are being bulldozed. Simultaneously, the police seem to be increasingly utilised in witch-hunting of selected persons.”

“The ATS’s dubious explanation at the time that Setalvad was not arrested but detained for questioning also holds no water. A 60-year-old activist with strong roots in the community, Setalvad is not a flight risk and should be questioned by female officers in her home as per law,” said the NWMI in a press statement.

Support from groups and individuals opposing NRC-CAA

Dr. Hiren Gohain, a noted Assamese intellectual who has been at the forefront of the demand to scrap the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Assam has also come out in support of Teesta Setalvad given how CJP teams have been working tirelessly in Assam to provide legal and paralegal aid to Indian citizens in need in Assam.

CJP had not only helped over 12 lakh Indians fill out NRC application forms, we have also assisted over 50 people in getting released from detention centres during the Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court. Dr. Gohain has expressed “deep shock” at the “bewildering turn of events that have led to the shocking arrest of noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad on fantastic charges of wilful and malicious pursuit of subverting justice, implicating innocents in grave crimes to ruin their reputation with forgery and fraud, and exploiting sentiments of victims of spontaneous riots and violence.”

The Joint Forum against NRC has also issued a statement condemning the arrest calling it a “naked act of political vendetta” and condemned how “the complainants are now being accused of conspiracy and being persecuted.” Hailing Teesta Setalvad for her “relentless crusade against perpetrators of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002”, they also praised “her role in defence of those incarcerated in detention centres and the vulnerable NRC-excluded people in Assam” calling it “inspiring”.

In a recent press statement released in wake of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, the Press Club of India said, “We also see the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad as very disturbing as it also smacks of vendetta.”

Public meetings and protests

Meanwhile public meetings and peaceful protests are being organized across the country everyday. Protests were held in Kolkata, Bangalore, Varanasi, Patna, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Ranchi, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Lucknow, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dhulia, Raipur etc.

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

On June 28, in a beautiful example of women supporting women, over 500 Adivasi women with their children from UP's Sonebhadra district, came together to condemn the shocking arrest of Teesta Setalvad. The protest was called by All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) and the union's president Sokalo Gond expressed solidarity with Setalvad.

Gond said, “We condemn the Gujarat government for arresting Teesta Setalvad. We stand with her. We will stand with her whenever necessary.” Readers would recall that when Sokalo Gond had been arrested on trumped-up charges, merely for leading the grassroots movement for community forest rights, it was Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) under Setalvad that assisted the AIUFWP to secure her release.

On June 30, 2022, a newly launched broad-based alliance Solidarity for the Prisoners of Conscience in India expressed solidarity with Setalvad saying, “What the present government is doing is “Governance by Fear” in its rawest form.”

Similarly, Bangla Sanskriti Manch, working with Bengali speaking migrant workers voiced solidarity with Setalvad. Her organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had delivered food to thousands of starving workers in Mumbai during Covid-19.

“It is astonishing to think that national politics is becoming so vicious that a real philanthropist and human rights activist has been trapped in a false case and taken in custody. But no Opposition political party has really opposed this ultimate state oppression,” said the Manch in a press release.

Odisha’s citizens gathered in the capital city of Bhubaneswar on June 30, 2022 to condemn the “naked attack” on dissent. Students, youth, women, intellectuals, journalists, political activists and lawmakers joined the protest on Thursday, called by various democratic and human rights organisations. Led by senior journalist Ravi Das, Prof. Birendra Nayak, eminent environmentalist Prafulla Samantara amongst others, the civic protest decried the BJP-led central government’s attack on dissent and democratic rights.

Others at the protest were Equality Council member Abhiram Mallick, journalist Sudhir Patnaik, Professor Vijay Bahidar, human rights lawyer Vishwapriya Kanungo, columnist Amiya Pandav, Revolutionary Women's Organization’s Pramila Behera, All India Students’ Union State leader Sanghamitra Jena, Democratic Rights Protection Organization’s Debranjan, All India People's Forum’s Banshidhar Parida, National Hawkers' Federation’s Jayant Das, social activists Sasmita Jena, Srimanta Mohanty, Sandeep Patnaik, researcher Nigmananda Sarangi, social activists Kalyan Anand, Bishwanath Patra, Manas Patnaik, Samajwadi Party's Sudarshan Pradhan, Eju Aamir Khan, etc.

This includes anti-Jindal Spokesperson Prashant Paikray who asked, “If Setalvad is arrested for fighting for the victims then what about us activists who speak for local villagers? We all are anti-nationals and they alone [the ruling regime] are nationalists?”

Free Teesta

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Many political leaders from various opposition parties have also come out in support of Teesta Setalvad:

Among politicians, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has called out the regime’s “habit of targeting opponents and infringing on civil liberties”.

Similarly, CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also came out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence.

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the JKPDP was appalled that the SC judgment was being “being used to punish the seekers of justice.”

Jignesh Mevani too, who was recently himself targeted by a vindictive regime, tweeted, “Teesta Setalvad is paying the price for upholding truth. She has always stood for the poor & marginalized, fought against Human Right violations across the country. But those that act against the interest of the poor are roaming free. This is New India!”

Related:

Free Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi sisterhood shows support for the human rights defender
Press Release: Teesta questioned for around four hours: Javed Anand
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta doing okay so far in police custody: Javed Anand
Free Teesta Setalvad: Support and demands for justice growing
Free Teesta Setalvad: India’s unequivocal demand
Huge outpouring of solidarity and support for Teesta Setalvad
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

A week in the life of human rights defender Teesta Setalvad

Support for the journalist and activist continues to grow; as her remand ends, she will be produced before the court on July 2

Free TeestaImage Courtesy: jantakareporter.com

On July 2, it will be exactly a week since Teesta Setalvad, one of India’s most formidable and resilient human rights defenders, was targeted and held captive by a vindictive regime. But as is evident in the burgeoning support for her, both online and on the streets, you may put Teesta Setalvad behind bars, you cannot cage her courage, which is even today inspiring countless others.

The shocking events of June 25, 2022

Just a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a Special Leave Petition (PIL) moved by Zakia Jafri seeking a proper investigation into the wider conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat carnage, a team of the Gujarat Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) barged into her Mumbai home and detained her.

The petition had been moved by Zakia Jafri, the widow of slain Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Ehsan Jafri, who had been killed during the communal violence in Gulberg Society. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) secretary Teesta Setalvad was the second petitioner in the case that aimed to pin the responsibility of allowing the violence to continue unabated on the people in power in Gujarat at the time.

But deeming this to be a malicious prosecution, the court had observed in its judgment, “As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law.

The above extract was quoted in a complaint filed on behalf of the State, and today, Teesta Setalvad, a fearless human rights defender stands accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery and giving or fabricating false evidence among other IPC sections. Two former police officers, RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt have also been named as her co-conspirators in the FIR. While Bhatt is already in jail under trumped-up charges in a custodial death case, Sreekumar was arrested shortly after Setalvad was picked up.

Setalvad says she was roughed up as she was picked up from her Mumbai home and taken to the Santacruz police station, where she was placed under arrest, and at the time of publishing this press release, was being taken to the Ahmedabad Crime Branch by road.

At about 5:30 P.M, just before being whisked away to Ahmedabad, Setalvad filed a hand written complaint with the Santacruz Police Station saying Police Inspector JH Patel of the ATS Ahmedabad and a lady officer in civil clothes came into her bedroom and assaulted her when she demanded to speak to her lawyer. Setalvad says that she was not shown the First Information Report (FIR) or a warrant till her lawyer arrived.

In her complaint, Setalvad has also stated that the assault left her with a bruise on her left hand, and that she feared for her life.

In Ahmedabad, Setalvad was formally arrested, and taken for a mandatory medical test on Sunday June 26, before being produced before a magistrate. She was remanded to police custody and her next hearing will take place on June 2.

Teesta Setalvad doing okay in custody

Teesta Setalvad’s activist-journalist husband Javed Anand has met her twice so far. “I met her just before they took her for the mandatory medical check-up. She appeared fine,” he said about meeting her on June 28. “She has no complaints about the food and is also sleeping okay. When I meet her, it is in a room with a table and chair, with police personnel nearby,” he added.

On June 29, he told us, “I met her again today and she told me that she had been questioned by the police for around four hours yesterday.” Setalvad is also being allowed to meet her lawyers. “She seemed relaxed. I was allowed to give her some books for light reading, and some other essential items. She asked me for a copy of The Framing of the Indian Constitution,” said the activist-journalist who co-founded the magazine Communalism Combat as well as SabrangIndia with his human rights defender wife.

Setalvad will now be presented before the magistrate’s court at 2:30 P.M on July 2.

Support from Human Rights groups

The Working Group of Human Rights in India and the United Nations (WGHR) on June 27, 2022 expressed deep concern about the arrest of member Teesta Setalvad by the Government of India.

“It reflects an aggressive abuse of power and law by the State machinery, in grave breach of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to citizens under the Indian Constitution. This turn of events has also raised questions about the Government’s commitments to human rights and Human Rights Defenders (HRDs), not just domestically but also at the global level,” said the WGHR in a statement.

Many notable Indian activists such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) General Secretary V. Suresh, National Association of People’s Movements (NAPM) Convenor Medha Patkar, former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas, former Lucknow University Vice Chancellor Rooprekha Verma, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) founder Aruna Roy, Carnatic musician TM Krishna, actor and dancer Mallika Sarabhai, writer and scholar Shabnam Hashmi, poet Gauhar Raza, and over 2,200 others signed a statement condemning the government’s prosecution of the activist and former IPS officers.

They say, “The state has now used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicity. It is truly an Orwellian situation of the lie becoming the truth, when those who fought to establish the truth of what happened in the Gujarat genocide of 2002 are being targeted.”

“We condemn this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalize those who stand for constitutional values and who have struggled against very difficult odds to try to achieve justice for the victims of 2002. We demand that this false and vindictive FIR be taken back unconditionally and Teesta Setalvad and others detained under this FIR be released immediately,” said signatories.

Previously, Elaine Pearson, the Acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) had urged governments at the G-7 summit that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending at present to raise questions about Setalvad’s arrest. HRW has released a statement saying, “The Indian authorities should immediately release the prominent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, drop all charges against her & stop their relentless attacks against her.”

“These arrests are clearly reprisals for pursuing justice for victims of the Gujarat riots and attempting to hold those who were in power accountable,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

This is yet another example of international support for Setalvad after Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders demanded Setalvad’s release saying, “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination. Defending human rights is not a crime.”

Similarly, international humanitarian organisation Amnesty’s India unit, that has itself faced persecution on trumped up pertaining to obtaining foreign funds, had also called Setalvad’s arrest “a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record,” and said, “It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country.”

Journalists demand justice for Teesta Setalvad

Closer home, the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the human rights defender’s arrest saying that she has been made a scapegoat “in a chilling process of vendetta unleashed by the executive and the judiciary.” They have further said, “It is unacceptable that a person who has been fighting for civil justice should be accused of fabricating evidence and misleading the Special Investigation Team.” Calling for an end to the “politics of vengeance”, they have also demanded that all charges be dropped against Setalvad and she be released immediately.

In a joint statement, the National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) condemned the “ugly and motivated, hasty arrest” of Setalvad. NAJ President S. K. Pande and DUJ General Secretary Sujata Modhak among others said, “The arrests smack of an increasingly visible undeclared Emergency that is increasingly becoming visible in continued attacks not only on the freedom of the press but on the democratic rights of citizens which are being bulldozed. Simultaneously, the police seem to be increasingly utilised in witch-hunting of selected persons.”

“The ATS’s dubious explanation at the time that Setalvad was not arrested but detained for questioning also holds no water. A 60-year-old activist with strong roots in the community, Setalvad is not a flight risk and should be questioned by female officers in her home as per law,” said the NWMI in a press statement.

Support from groups and individuals opposing NRC-CAA

Dr. Hiren Gohain, a noted Assamese intellectual who has been at the forefront of the demand to scrap the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Assam has also come out in support of Teesta Setalvad given how CJP teams have been working tirelessly in Assam to provide legal and paralegal aid to Indian citizens in need in Assam.

CJP had not only helped over 12 lakh Indians fill out NRC application forms, we have also assisted over 50 people in getting released from detention centres during the Covid-19 pandemic in accordance with orders passed by the Supreme Court and the Gauhati High Court. Dr. Gohain has expressed “deep shock” at the “bewildering turn of events that have led to the shocking arrest of noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad on fantastic charges of wilful and malicious pursuit of subverting justice, implicating innocents in grave crimes to ruin their reputation with forgery and fraud, and exploiting sentiments of victims of spontaneous riots and violence.”

The Joint Forum against NRC has also issued a statement condemning the arrest calling it a “naked act of political vendetta” and condemned how “the complainants are now being accused of conspiracy and being persecuted.” Hailing Teesta Setalvad for her “relentless crusade against perpetrators of the Gujarat pogrom of 2002”, they also praised “her role in defence of those incarcerated in detention centres and the vulnerable NRC-excluded people in Assam” calling it “inspiring”.

In a recent press statement released in wake of Alt News co-founder Mohammed Zubair, the Press Club of India said, “We also see the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad as very disturbing as it also smacks of vendetta.”

Public meetings and protests

Meanwhile public meetings and peaceful protests are being organized across the country everyday. Protests were held in Kolkata, Bangalore, Varanasi, Patna, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Ranchi, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Lucknow, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dhulia, Raipur etc.

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

Free Teesta

On June 28, in a beautiful example of women supporting women, over 500 Adivasi women with their children from UP's Sonebhadra district, came together to condemn the shocking arrest of Teesta Setalvad. The protest was called by All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) and the union's president Sokalo Gond expressed solidarity with Setalvad.

Gond said, “We condemn the Gujarat government for arresting Teesta Setalvad. We stand with her. We will stand with her whenever necessary.” Readers would recall that when Sokalo Gond had been arrested on trumped-up charges, merely for leading the grassroots movement for community forest rights, it was Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) under Setalvad that assisted the AIUFWP to secure her release.

On June 30, 2022, a newly launched broad-based alliance Solidarity for the Prisoners of Conscience in India expressed solidarity with Setalvad saying, “What the present government is doing is “Governance by Fear” in its rawest form.”

Similarly, Bangla Sanskriti Manch, working with Bengali speaking migrant workers voiced solidarity with Setalvad. Her organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) had delivered food to thousands of starving workers in Mumbai during Covid-19.

“It is astonishing to think that national politics is becoming so vicious that a real philanthropist and human rights activist has been trapped in a false case and taken in custody. But no Opposition political party has really opposed this ultimate state oppression,” said the Manch in a press release.

Odisha’s citizens gathered in the capital city of Bhubaneswar on June 30, 2022 to condemn the “naked attack” on dissent. Students, youth, women, intellectuals, journalists, political activists and lawmakers joined the protest on Thursday, called by various democratic and human rights organisations. Led by senior journalist Ravi Das, Prof. Birendra Nayak, eminent environmentalist Prafulla Samantara amongst others, the civic protest decried the BJP-led central government’s attack on dissent and democratic rights.

Others at the protest were Equality Council member Abhiram Mallick, journalist Sudhir Patnaik, Professor Vijay Bahidar, human rights lawyer Vishwapriya Kanungo, columnist Amiya Pandav, Revolutionary Women's Organization’s Pramila Behera, All India Students’ Union State leader Sanghamitra Jena, Democratic Rights Protection Organization’s Debranjan, All India People's Forum’s Banshidhar Parida, National Hawkers' Federation’s Jayant Das, social activists Sasmita Jena, Srimanta Mohanty, Sandeep Patnaik, researcher Nigmananda Sarangi, social activists Kalyan Anand, Bishwanath Patra, Manas Patnaik, Samajwadi Party's Sudarshan Pradhan, Eju Aamir Khan, etc.

This includes anti-Jindal Spokesperson Prashant Paikray who asked, “If Setalvad is arrested for fighting for the victims then what about us activists who speak for local villagers? We all are anti-nationals and they alone [the ruling regime] are nationalists?”

Free Teesta

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Many political leaders from various opposition parties have also come out in support of Teesta Setalvad:

Among politicians, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor has called out the regime’s “habit of targeting opponents and infringing on civil liberties”.

Similarly, CPI (M) Politburo member Brinda Karat also came out in support of Setalvad and called her arrest a “very vindictive action” by the regime. She warns that such actions are an “ominous threat to all democratic citizens” who dare to question the role of authorities in the spread of communal violence.

Mehbooba Mufti, president of the JKPDP was appalled that the SC judgment was being “being used to punish the seekers of justice.”

Jignesh Mevani too, who was recently himself targeted by a vindictive regime, tweeted, “Teesta Setalvad is paying the price for upholding truth. She has always stood for the poor & marginalized, fought against Human Right violations across the country. But those that act against the interest of the poor are roaming free. This is New India!”

Related:

Free Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi sisterhood shows support for the human rights defender
Press Release: Teesta questioned for around four hours: Javed Anand
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta doing okay so far in police custody: Javed Anand
Free Teesta Setalvad: Support and demands for justice growing
Free Teesta Setalvad: India’s unequivocal demand
Huge outpouring of solidarity and support for Teesta Setalvad
PRESS RELEASE: Teesta Setalvad roughed up as Gujarat ATS personnel barge into her home

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Kashmiri Pandit killings: Jammu and Kashmir HC initiates case based on letter petition

Petition had been moved by Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti showcasing vulnerability of the minority Hindus community in the Valley

01 Jul 2022

Kashmiri PanditImage Courtesy: lawyersclubindia.com

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has initiated a case based on a letter petition moved by Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS).

SabrangIndia had reported previously that in wake of growing anxiety amidst the minority Hindu community in the state, KPSS had written to the HC on June 1, listing the names of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community who had been killed in the Valley so far. The letter also expressed concerns over the appearance of posters by terrorist organisations warning of dire consequences for the members of the community who did not migrate out of the state during the Kashmiri Pandit exodus of the late 80s and early 90s.

Now, Bar and Bench reports that a bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani heard the matter. While Advocate Gowhar Jan appeared for the petitioner, Advocate General DC Raina along with government advocate Sajad Ashraf appeared for the State. The case was adjourned to July 4, 2022 on the request of the petitioner.

What had KPSS said in the letter?

The minority Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community has been in the crosshairs of terrorists over the last few months, and many prominent and beloved members of the community including pharmacists, teachers, government employees and businessmen have been gunned down so far. In fact, Ajay Pandita, a Sarpanch of a village in Anantnag, was killed way back in June 2020. By May 31, 2022, as many as 12 people have been killed.

The community, feeling threatened, wanted to leave the Valley, but the letter alleged, “That the Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus want to leave Kashmir Valley but the Government is not allowing them to leave which can be gathered from the press/news reports and social media statements. The government blocked the roads, used electric currents to barricade the walls of the transit camps, the main doors of the transit camps are closed from outside with locks.”

The letter added that it was “a clear violation of the Right to life which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India as on the one hand, UT / Central Administration fail to protect the lives of the religious minorities in Kashmir Valley and on the other hand does not let them leave Kashmir Valley so that they can protect their respective lives.”

The petition demanded a probe into the spate of murders of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community.

The entire letter petition may be viewed here: 

According to Tickoo, “At present a total of 808 families, comprising over 3,400 people live in different parts of the Kashmir Valley.” Many of these non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families are extremely impoverished and live in squalor with no steady source of income. In wake of the killings, 800 Kashmir Pandits who live in South Kashmir, continue to fear for their safety.

Related:

Minority Kashmiri Hindus fear “something fishy” in South Kashmir
Hate speech impact on Kashmir Valley & Jammu, communal tension reported
Kashmir: Friday sermons in mosques express solidarity with Kashmiri Hindu brethren
Kashmir: Migrant labourer shot dead by militants in Budgam
Kashmir: School teacher Rajni Bala gunned down by terrorists in front of students

Kashmiri Pandit killings: Jammu and Kashmir HC initiates case based on letter petition

Petition had been moved by Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti showcasing vulnerability of the minority Hindus community in the Valley

Kashmiri PanditImage Courtesy: lawyersclubindia.com

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has initiated a case based on a letter petition moved by Sanjay Tickoo, president of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti (KPSS).

SabrangIndia had reported previously that in wake of growing anxiety amidst the minority Hindu community in the state, KPSS had written to the HC on June 1, listing the names of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community who had been killed in the Valley so far. The letter also expressed concerns over the appearance of posters by terrorist organisations warning of dire consequences for the members of the community who did not migrate out of the state during the Kashmiri Pandit exodus of the late 80s and early 90s.

Now, Bar and Bench reports that a bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani heard the matter. While Advocate Gowhar Jan appeared for the petitioner, Advocate General DC Raina along with government advocate Sajad Ashraf appeared for the State. The case was adjourned to July 4, 2022 on the request of the petitioner.

What had KPSS said in the letter?

The minority Hindu Kashmiri Pandit community has been in the crosshairs of terrorists over the last few months, and many prominent and beloved members of the community including pharmacists, teachers, government employees and businessmen have been gunned down so far. In fact, Ajay Pandita, a Sarpanch of a village in Anantnag, was killed way back in June 2020. By May 31, 2022, as many as 12 people have been killed.

The community, feeling threatened, wanted to leave the Valley, but the letter alleged, “That the Kashmiri Pandits / Hindus want to leave Kashmir Valley but the Government is not allowing them to leave which can be gathered from the press/news reports and social media statements. The government blocked the roads, used electric currents to barricade the walls of the transit camps, the main doors of the transit camps are closed from outside with locks.”

The letter added that it was “a clear violation of the Right to life which is guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India as on the one hand, UT / Central Administration fail to protect the lives of the religious minorities in Kashmir Valley and on the other hand does not let them leave Kashmir Valley so that they can protect their respective lives.”

The petition demanded a probe into the spate of murders of members of the Kashmiri Pandit community.

The entire letter petition may be viewed here: 

According to Tickoo, “At present a total of 808 families, comprising over 3,400 people live in different parts of the Kashmir Valley.” Many of these non-migrant Kashmiri Pandit families are extremely impoverished and live in squalor with no steady source of income. In wake of the killings, 800 Kashmir Pandits who live in South Kashmir, continue to fear for their safety.

Related:

Minority Kashmiri Hindus fear “something fishy” in South Kashmir
Hate speech impact on Kashmir Valley & Jammu, communal tension reported
Kashmir: Friday sermons in mosques express solidarity with Kashmiri Hindu brethren
Kashmir: Migrant labourer shot dead by militants in Budgam
Kashmir: School teacher Rajni Bala gunned down by terrorists in front of students

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Free Teesta Setalvad: Now Bhubaneswar stands with Teesta

Protesters demand the immediate release of the arrested while dismissing all allegations

01 Jul 2022

Human Right Activist

In solidarity with human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad and others, Odisha’s citizens gathered in the capital city of Bhubaneswar on June 30, 2022 to condemn the “naked attack” on dissent.

Students, youth, women, intellectuals, journalists, political activists and lawmakers joined the protest on Thursday, called by various democratic and human rights organisations. Led by senior journalist Ravi Das, Prof. Birendra Nayak, eminent environmentalist Prafulla Samantara amongst others, the civic protest decried the BJP-led central government’s attack on dissent and democratic rights.

Human Right Activist

People demanded release of the 60-year-old activist as well as 2002 Gujarat riots whistle-blowers RB Sreekumar, Sanjiv Bhatt. The former two were arrested a day after the Supreme Court dismissed the Zakia Jafri case. Similarly, AltNews Co-Founder Mohammad Zubair was arrested shortly after Setalvad and Sreekumar’s arrest for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

Condemning these series of events, protesters said that the apex court has created a sick tradition of sending social and human rights activists to jail rather than giving justice to victims. Members said the court had penalised dissenters for assisting victims in the legal battle. Even Opposition political parties called for a boycott of the assembly, citing “ridicule of the constitution and the use of force against the judiciary”.

Others at the protest were Equality Council member Abhiram Mallick, journalist Sudhir Patnaik, Professor Vijay Bahidar, human rights lawyer Vishwapriya Kanungo, columnist Amiya Pandav, Revolutionary Women's Organization’s Pramila Behera, All India Students’ Union State leader Sanghamitra Jena, Democratic Rights Protection Organization’s Debranjan, All India People's Forum’s Banshidhar Parida, National Hawkers' Federation’s Jayant Das, social activists Sasmita Jena, Srimanta Mohanty, Sandeep Patnaik, researcher Nigmananda Sarangi, social activists Kalyan Anand, Bishwanath Patra, Manas Patnaik, Samajwadi Party's Sudarshan Pradhan, Eju Aamir Khan, etc.

This includes anti-Jindal Spokesperson Prashant Paikray who asked, “If Setalvad is arrested for fighting for the victims then what about us activists who speak for local villagers? We all are anti-nationals and they alone [the ruling regime] are nationalists?”

For years now, the anti-Jindal movement (formerly the anti-POSCO movement) has been fighting for Jagatsinghpur’s local adivasi groups in Dhinkia village. Residents have long since demanded that the government stop handing the nearby forest land for developing projects without the permission of gram sabhas as per the Forest Rights Act 2006.

Setalvad and Sreekumar face charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery. Worse still, the FIR went as far as to make the case that the time period of the offense ranged from January 1, 2002 to June 25, 2022. This effectively includes every effort for justice for the 2002 victims, be it petitions filed in the High Court, Supreme Court or the Magistrates’ Court – all of which are sought to be criminalized.

Supporters of the activist decried the FIR that prevents Setalvad from making the state accountable in establishing guilt of those accused of serious crimes and calling for victims’ justice. It also deters citizens from holding the State accountable, in effect conveying that the State can do no wrong.

Related:

End governance of fear: Collectives in support of Teesta Setalvad
Release Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi women demand justice for their sister activist
Drop charges against Teesta Setalvad: Human Rights Watch
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Human Rights organisations issue statements of support for Teesta Setalvad
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
After activists, is GoI now targeting farmers?

Free Teesta Setalvad: Now Bhubaneswar stands with Teesta

Protesters demand the immediate release of the arrested while dismissing all allegations

Human Right Activist

In solidarity with human rights activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad and others, Odisha’s citizens gathered in the capital city of Bhubaneswar on June 30, 2022 to condemn the “naked attack” on dissent.

Students, youth, women, intellectuals, journalists, political activists and lawmakers joined the protest on Thursday, called by various democratic and human rights organisations. Led by senior journalist Ravi Das, Prof. Birendra Nayak, eminent environmentalist Prafulla Samantara amongst others, the civic protest decried the BJP-led central government’s attack on dissent and democratic rights.

Human Right Activist

People demanded release of the 60-year-old activist as well as 2002 Gujarat riots whistle-blowers RB Sreekumar, Sanjiv Bhatt. The former two were arrested a day after the Supreme Court dismissed the Zakia Jafri case. Similarly, AltNews Co-Founder Mohammad Zubair was arrested shortly after Setalvad and Sreekumar’s arrest for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

Condemning these series of events, protesters said that the apex court has created a sick tradition of sending social and human rights activists to jail rather than giving justice to victims. Members said the court had penalised dissenters for assisting victims in the legal battle. Even Opposition political parties called for a boycott of the assembly, citing “ridicule of the constitution and the use of force against the judiciary”.

Others at the protest were Equality Council member Abhiram Mallick, journalist Sudhir Patnaik, Professor Vijay Bahidar, human rights lawyer Vishwapriya Kanungo, columnist Amiya Pandav, Revolutionary Women's Organization’s Pramila Behera, All India Students’ Union State leader Sanghamitra Jena, Democratic Rights Protection Organization’s Debranjan, All India People's Forum’s Banshidhar Parida, National Hawkers' Federation’s Jayant Das, social activists Sasmita Jena, Srimanta Mohanty, Sandeep Patnaik, researcher Nigmananda Sarangi, social activists Kalyan Anand, Bishwanath Patra, Manas Patnaik, Samajwadi Party's Sudarshan Pradhan, Eju Aamir Khan, etc.

This includes anti-Jindal Spokesperson Prashant Paikray who asked, “If Setalvad is arrested for fighting for the victims then what about us activists who speak for local villagers? We all are anti-nationals and they alone [the ruling regime] are nationalists?”

For years now, the anti-Jindal movement (formerly the anti-POSCO movement) has been fighting for Jagatsinghpur’s local adivasi groups in Dhinkia village. Residents have long since demanded that the government stop handing the nearby forest land for developing projects without the permission of gram sabhas as per the Forest Rights Act 2006.

Setalvad and Sreekumar face charges of criminal conspiracy and forgery. Worse still, the FIR went as far as to make the case that the time period of the offense ranged from January 1, 2002 to June 25, 2022. This effectively includes every effort for justice for the 2002 victims, be it petitions filed in the High Court, Supreme Court or the Magistrates’ Court – all of which are sought to be criminalized.

Supporters of the activist decried the FIR that prevents Setalvad from making the state accountable in establishing guilt of those accused of serious crimes and calling for victims’ justice. It also deters citizens from holding the State accountable, in effect conveying that the State can do no wrong.

Related:

End governance of fear: Collectives in support of Teesta Setalvad
Release Teesta Setalvad: Adivasi women demand justice for their sister activist
Drop charges against Teesta Setalvad: Human Rights Watch
Nation unites to demand Teesta Setalvad’s release
Human Rights organisations issue statements of support for Teesta Setalvad
First Teesta Setalvad, now Mohammed Zubair!
After activists, is GoI now targeting farmers?

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