New Delhi: The Left parties have strongly opposed the arrest of Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setelvad by the Gujarat Police, with the CPI(M) alleging that the move is “abhorrent” to democratic rights of citizens.
The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), who had detained Setalvad in Mumbai on Saturday, handed her over to the Ahmedabad crime branch early on Sunday in connection with a fresh case of forgery, criminal conspiracy and insulting criminal proceedings to cause injury registered against her.
The action against Setalvad had come a day after the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging the clean chit given by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the 2002 post-Godhra riots cases.
In a statement, the CPI(M) alleged that Setalvad’s arrest is an “ominous threat” to all democratic minded citizens not to dare to question the role of the State or the government under whose regime communal violence takes place.
“This is abhorrent to democratic rights of citizens. However, the action of the Gujarat administration in her arrest has been enabled by the questionable verdict of the three-member Bench of the Supreme Court which has made the complainant into the accused…,” the statement said.
The party said that the SC ordering that all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law, enabled the arrest.
The party also said that the arrest of the activist also means any SIT established by the court is to be considered “outside the purview of judicial appeals and if anyone appeals against it”, as did Zakia Jafri and Setalvad in the present case, then they are charged with abuse of process.
“A fight for justice for 16 years is described in unusual derogatory terms as keeping the pot boiling for ulterior design , the CPI(M) said, referring to the court verdict.
“It should be noted that the court appointed amicus curiae in the SIT case, while agreeing with many recommendations of the SIT, had also recorded that certain sections of the IPC causing hatred among communities should be considered. Earlier in April 2004, it was the Supreme Court itself which had described the then government leaders as ‘modern day Neros’. The present verdict does not address any of these issues. It punishes those who like Teesta believe in the judicial system. It is a fit case for a curative petition,” the party said, demanding the withdrawal of cases and release of Setalvad, retired Gujarat DGP R B Sreekumar and others.
CPI General Secretary D Raja also condemned the move and said in a Twitter post that Setalvad is relentlessly struggling to get justice for the victims of the Gujrat riots.
“Her detention by the ATS hours after HM expressed his displeasure at Teesta’s work is highly questionable. She should be released. Harassment of human rights defenders should stop,” Raja said.
CPI-ML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya alleged that “justice seekers” are now being put on trial.
“The Supreme Court didn’t stop at exonerating Narendra Modi under whose watch Gujarat had witnessed the 2002 pogrom and genocide, it went on to suggest that justice-seekers be put on trial. Detention of @TeestaSetalvad on this ground is a travesty of justice,” he said in a tweet.