Mumbai: Protesters unite to condemn Teesta Setalvad's arrest

This followed the dismissal by the Supreme Court on Friday, 24th June, of a petition in which Setalvad is a co-petitioner who appealed against a lower court’s order in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots case

Sherine RajUpdated: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 12:10 AM IST
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Mumbai: Protesters unite to condemn Teesta Setalvad arrest | FPJ

Hundreds of protesters gathered around Dadar railway station on Monday demanding the immediate release of journalist-activist Teesta Setalvad who was arrested by the Gujarat Crime Branch.

'Release Teesta', 'Stop harassing human rights defenders, 'Is seeking justice criminal?', were some of the slogans on the banners and posters held by the protesters. Many waved flags of the All India Youth Federation (AIYF) and the Communist Party of India, during the protest for the release of Teesta Setalvad, Sanjiv Rajendra Bhatt and RB Sreekumar.

One of the protesters, Milind Ranade said, “What was Teesta’s crime? She only stood by the people who faced injustice. The BJP government is crushing the democracy of our country. It is taking the country backwards and towards darkness which has forced the common man to come out on the streets and save democracy.”

“This is our duty and we will fight. We will ensure Teesta is released and hope she gets bail soon. Till then this protest will continue,” Ranade added.

G G Parekh, a 98-year-old protester who was also part of quit India movement in 1942, said, “I have lived the fight during independence when we dreamed of a free country, but now I am seeing that dream being crushed by this government. I feel sad today to see the condition of our nation and I feel I am still a responsible citizen who needs to come out for protests even at this age so that I can protect our country and hope for a better future for the coming generations.”

Setalvad and former DGP RB Sreekumar were arrested on Saturday after being detained by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Mumbai, following an FIR against Setalvad at the Ahmedabad city crime branch. Sanjiv Bhatt, another IPS official, is already serving a jail sentence for a 1989 custodial death case. Setalvad’s NGO – Citizens for Justice and Peace – had supported Zakia Jafri throughout her legal battle against the then chief minister and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the state police. Zakia’s husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri was killed in the attack on Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, which claimed 68 lives in 2002.

The present FIR follows Friday’s Supreme Court judgment upholding the SIT's closure report giving a clean chit to the former chief minister, with the observations that Teesta, former IPS officials RB Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt, undergoing a jail sentence in another case, should be acted against for fabricating false evidence and using it as genuine and also pursuing the case for 16 long years.

Feroze Mithiborwala, an organiser and protester said, “When a human rights defender, a journalist goes to court, the court turns around and asks for an investigation against the same person. What kind of a Supreme Court and what kind of a justice system do we have in our country? The Supreme Court is in contempt of the people of India, they are in contempt of the constitution of India. This is a continuous fight against fascism and therefore we have come out on the streets today.”

Vidhya Chawan, another protester and organiser said, “The Mumbai police had no idea and she was just taken away. The ATS is taking away the common man, instead of catching the real terrorists. She was a journalist, not a terrorist. Teesta fought for people who faced injustice and I was always in awe of her immense courage. She was even manhandled during her arrest. Our country still has honest judges and journalists but they are getting silenced. But we will continue to fight even if they put us in jail or run bulldozers over us.”

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