AIUFWP condemns denial of Anticipatory Bail to Teesta Setalvad
All India Union of Forest Working People(AIUFWP)
The All India Union of Forest Working People has strongly condemned the denial of Anticipatory Bail to noted human rights activist and Journalist Teesta Setalvad. Teesta Setalvad is Vice President and legal advisor of AIUFWP, the Union will fight against the curbing of human rights and democratic rights and will launch a nation-wide struggle to fight for justice. The union will unite all the struggles that is going on in the forest area against the atrocities and denial of justice to the forest people with this case. The struggle will continue till we win and establish the truth.
Today Ahmedabad Sessions Court has turned down the Anticipatory Bail Application (ABA) of CJP Secretary and acclaimed Human Rights Defender Teesta Setalvad and her partner Javed Anand. However, an undeterred Setalvad refuses to be cowed down by the pressure tactics employed by a vicious and vindictive state and is challenging the order in the Gujarat High Court.
The matter pertains to a false case against Setalvad where it is alleged that she used fraudulent means to obtain funds for the education NGO KHOJ under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and then misappropriated them. You can read here our official statement where we have clarified each point and explained how the allegations are baseless.
But what is perhaps most absurd is how the Gujarat Police moved to cancel the bail plea stating Setalvad might tamper with evidence. The KHOJ project began in 2010 and got over well before Jan 2014 when the bank accounts were frozen due to another fake case based on false allegations. The only evidence of alleged embezzlement is in the bank accounts. If the accounts in question are frozen, how exactly can Setalvad tamper with evidence? This is just a ploy to get police custody. Normally custodial interrogation is not required in cases such as this. Therefore, there is a very real possibility of misuse of this custody to use coercive tactics like torture and intimidation.
Setalvad and Anand, both office bearers of CJP, have been targeted multiple times since 2014. Setalvad has had to seek anticipatory bail to avoid custodial torture nine times! This has not stopped them from pursuing a passionate and rigorous human rights agenda. CJP will continue to provide legal aid to the survivors of the Gujarat 2002 genocide. In fact, CJP is also working with Adivasis and Forest workers in Sonbhadra and Orissa to get false cases against them quashed.
Setalvad’s work as a journalist, academic and an educationist continues. Anand apart from being part of CJP is also founding member of Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy. Both remain committed to the idea of a more equal, inclusive and peaceful India.
A brief background of the case
The KHOJ case was filed by Rais Khan, a former disgruntled employee and stooge of a vindictive state. He has been used multiple times to file such fake cases in the past. He has gone forum shopping and filed over a dozen different cases against Setalvad and her team over the years for which he has also been rewarded handsomely by way of being nominated to the Central Waqf Council. Lawyers who have appeared for Khan include those who are on the rolls of the Gujarat state and government. In this case, too, Khan first tried to goad the CBI and MHRD into launching this witch hunt but when that did not work, went to his preferred forum, the Crime Branch Ahmedabad.
Bombay HC grants Transit Bail, We cooperate with Investigations
On April 5, Justice Revati Mohite Dere of the Bombay High Court granted interim transit bail till May 2, 2018 to Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. As per the orders of the Hon’ble Court, Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand appeared before the Ahmedabad Crime Branch at 10 a.m on April 6. Both gave their statements in response to all the questions put to them until after 5 p.m.
Both responded to the best of their knowledge to the questions put to them by a team of investigating officers led by ACP CN Rajput. Besides the oral statements they also handed over to the IO many documents which they had carried with them to Ahmedabad. Thereafter a second notice to appear before the IO was served on Javed Anand which he complied with. Anand appeared before the IO, again, a second time on May 11. Thereafter, some further documents requested by the investigation officer were delivered to the Crime Branch office.
SC provides protection as State moves to prevent Foreign Travel
A vindictive state then attempted to prevent Teesta Setalvad from travelling abroad when she was invited to travel to Canada and the United States. This is because the perpetrators were afraid that she would lay threadbare the dismal human rights record of the present regime before the international community! The state moved to have her grounded. Luckily the Supreme Court gave Setalvad protection from arrest and further harassment during the period of her travel. The protection was granted till May 31, 2018. Setalvad and Anand then applied for anticipatory bail in the Ahmedabad Sessions Court. The judge reserved judgment till May 23.