Kerala Rise Up In Defense Of Teesta Setalvad
31 July, 2015
Solidarity Youth Movement of Kerala held a protest rally in front of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) office in Kochi against the blatant misuse of power against human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad , her husband Javed Anand and others. Teesta Setalvad is the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an organisation formed for fighting for justice for the victims of communal violence in the state of Gujarat in 2002. CJP is a co-petitioner seeking criminal trial of Narendra Modi, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat and the current Prime minister of India and 62 other politicians and government officials for complicity in the Gujarat violence of 2002. Teesta's organisation did creditable work in obtaining convictions for 119 people including the then cabinet minister Maya Kodnani for participating in the Gujarat riots. It is irony that Maya Kodnani is now walking free by getting bail on flimsy grounds and Teesta and others are being hounded for fighting for justice for the riot victims.
On 14 July 2015 CBI conducted a raid at the premises of social activist Teesta Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand, Gulam Mohammed Peshimam and office of Sabrang Communications and Publishing in Mumbai alleging that they misuse of funds received for CJP for her publishing house. These raids are undertaken for purely vindictive reasons given the assurances of complete cooperation and submission of thousands of pages of documents to the CBI. It is by now an open secret that activists working for justice and truth with regard to the pogrom called ‘Gujarat Riots’ have earned the hatred and animosity of the Modi government; which does not hesitate to employ official state power to indulge in a witch-hunt.
Setalvad and Anand set up Sabrang Communications and began publishing Communalism Combat in 1993, and not after 2002. It was this company that published the Justice Srikrishna Commission Report on the Mumbai communal riots of 1992-1993 at a time when the state government would not make it available to the public. The state not only fails in its constitutional duty to protect all citizens from unlawful deprivation of life and liberty under Article 21, but hounds and intimidates all those who seek to uphold human rights and democratic values.
It is not just Teesta being hounded for fighting for justice. Gujarat special judge Jyotsana Yagnik , who presiding over a designated court for the trial of the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case convicted 32 persons including former minister Maya Kodnani and Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, had stated in May this year that she has received 22 death threats since retirement. Her security cover was not enhanced, but scaled down. In her judgment Jyotsana Yagnik had termed Maya Kodnani as the ‘kingpin’ of the massacre and sentenced to 28-year imprisonment, whereas Bajrangi was ordered to stay behind bars for entire life.
Inaugurating the rally in Kochi, noted human rights activist, C.R Neelakandan said India is fast becoming a fascist nation. Quoting Martin Niemöller he said unless we speak up now, dark times will fall upon India and nobody will be there to defend us.
Speaking on the occasion noted film maker K.P Sasi said Teesta Setalvad has become a symbol for the human rights defenders of India. The message that the government is trying to convey to the public is loud and clear, if a well known person like Teesta can be silenced, everyone in the country can be silenced. He said that this fight is a fight for the defense of Indian constitution. He also called upon the humane officials in CBI not to fall prey to the fascist designs of the government.
Human rights activist P.A Pouran recalled the daylight murders of RTI activists, or of senior left leaders like Narendra Dhabolkar and Govind Pansare for their anti-Hindutva, anti-superstition campaigns are deliberately left unsolved by the establishment which shows the government’s complicity in these murders. He called upon the nation to rise up as one to defend the rights guaranteed by the constitution of India.
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