Teesta Setalvad

A United Nations official on Saturday expressed deep concern about the arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad by the Gujarat Police.

“Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination,” Mary Lawlor, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, said on Twitter. “Defending human rights is not a crime. I call for her release and an end to persecution by Indian state.”

Over a dozen of human rights organisations and lawyers have criticised the Gujarat Police and the Supreme Court for arresting Setalvad who pursued the case against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Muslim genocide in Gujarat.

Amnesty International India issued a statement condemning the detention of Setalvad by the Indian authorities.

“Detention of prominent human rights activist @TeestaSetalvad by the Indian authorities is a direct reprisal against those who dare to question their human rights record. It sends a chilling message to the civil society & further shrinks the space for dissent in the country,” it said.

“Targeting human rights activists for their legitimate human rights work is unacceptable. The Indian authorities must immediately release @TeestaSetalvad, and end the persecution of Indian civil society and human rights defenders,” it added.

The Indian American Muslim Council strongly condemned the arrests of Setalvad and Sreekumar, and criticised the Gujarat Police for filing a case against Sanjiv Bhatt.

“In several high-profile cases related to the Gujarat pogrom, the perpetrators have either been acquitted by the infamous and compromised Special Investigations Team or granted bail after being convicted. Meanwhile, activists such as Teesta Setalvad, RB Sreekumar, and Sanjiv Bhatt, who demonstrated exemplary courage in pursuing justice for the victims, are being hounded by the police and subject to harassment by the state under false and fabricated charges,” read a statement by IAMC.

The Muslim body alleged that the 2002 Gujarat genocides were orchestrated by offshoots of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. “More than 2000 Muslims were burnt and butchered under the watch of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was then the Chief Minister of the state,” it said.

CPI(M) has strongly condemned arrest of Teesta Setalvad, “indefatigable defender of human rights by Gujarat police on dubious grounds citing the recent judgement of the Supreme Court.” CPI(M) demanded her release and “withdrawal of false charges.”

“The arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad is very shocking. We strongly condemn it. Suppressing voices for people’s rights would weaken our democracy and therefore weaken India. We the people of India need to remain watchful and responsible,” tweeted Jamaate Islami Hind.

“Condemns Gujarat Police move against Teesta Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar. They are being targeted for standing up against communal politics. Teesta has been helping the victims of communal violence. Attempt to silence secular voices must be opposed,” said OMA Salam, chairman of Popular Front of India.

“So sorry to know that Teesta Setalvad, a brave human rights fighter, has been arrested by ATS as if they were waiting for SC observation which seems so much out of place in a judgment about the brutal murder of Ehsan Jafri. Teesta will come out of this trial with flying colours,” tweeted Zafarul Islam Khan.

The Supreme Court had on Friday dismissed a plea challenging the Special Investigation Team’s clean chit to 64 people, including then chief minister Narendra Modi, in the 2002 Gujarat Muslim
genocide case. The plea was filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband and Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was murdered by Hindutva mob during the 2002 Gujarat genocide. Thousands of Muslims were killed during the genocide.

Less than a day after the apex court’s ruling, Teesta Setalvad, the activist who pursued the case against Prime Minister Modi, was picked by the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of the Gujarat Police from her house in Mumbai. She was later taken to a local police station and then driven to Ahmedabad.

This article first appeared on maktoobmedia.com