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Over 2200 Citizens Condemn Arrest of Teesta Setalvad, RB Sreekumar by Gujarat Police

A day after the June 24 SC judgement, Gujarat ATS took Setalvad into custody. The FIR also mentioned Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt in an alleged conspiracy to fabricate evidence, tutor witnesses and abuse the process of law.
Over 2200 Citizens Condemn Arrest of Teesta Setalvad, RB Sreekumar by Gujarat Police

Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi: More than 2,200 people from 21 Indian states and across the world have released a statement expressing solidarity with human rights defender and journalist Teesta Setalvad and former top police officer, RB Sreekumar, condemning their arrest by Gujarat Police and demanding their immediate release.

The signatories include Peoples Union of Civil Liberties or PUCL general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of Peoples Movement convenor Medha Patkar, columnist Apoorvanand, theatre and film actor Shabana Azmi, writer Aakar Patel, Kumar Ketkar, MP, former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas, writer and former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed, Former VC, Lucknow University Rooprekha Verma, writer Githa Hariharan, Human Rights Watch’s Henri Tiphagne, writer Shamsul Islam, actress Mallika Sarabhai and others.

The statement also expressed shock at the Supreme Court judgement in the Zakia Jafri Case "which has criminalised the lawful pursuit of the criminal conspiracy of the 2002 Gujarat genocide."

"The judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Zakia Jafri v State of Gujarat, dismissing the petition filed by Zakia Jafri calling for an investigation into the conspiracy to hatch the events resulting in communal violence following the Godhra train burning, deepens the sense of injustice and marks a moment of profound hurt and loss as far as all those who care about constitutional values. The Supreme Court not only dismissed the idea that there was a conspiracy to commit the crimes of murder, rape and destruction of property but instead went further and took to task those who sought to ensure justice for the communal hate crimes following the Godhra incident," the statement read.

The signatories highlighted how the Gujarat government had used the observations made in the SC judgement to “falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled to get justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots.”

"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," the statement noted.

A day after the June 24 SC judgement, Gujarat ATS forced their way into Setalvad's house and took her into their custody. The FIR also mentioned Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt in a conspiracy to fabricate evidence, tutor witnesses and abuse the process of law. 

The actions of the Gujarat Police are aimed at criminalising the ordinary process of litigation to make the state accountable, the statement noted.

"We condemn this naked and brazen attempt to silence and criminalise 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," it added.

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