June 12, 2021
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Discredited, Drained And Attacked: NYT On Teesta Setalvad

Discredited, Drained And Attacked: NYT On Teesta Setalvad
File Photo - Amit Haralkar
Discredited, Drained And Attacked: NYT On Teesta Setalvad

Teesta Setalvad's organisation, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), has doggedly pursued cases linked to the Gujarat riots of 2002. It has systematically fought 68 criminal cases, and 120 people have received life imprisonment because of their efforts. 

A piece titled 'Longtime Critic of Modi Is Now a Target' in the New York Times dated August 19, 2015, discusses the persecution and the kind of slander campaign that Setalvad and her husband have had to face, especially at the hands of the CBI, especially now that Narendra Modi is in power at the Centre, since Setalvad's campaign is to hold him responsible for the Gujarat 2002 riots:

In the past few months, as she has assembled evidence in the case, Ms. Setalvad has been discredited, financially drained and nearly overwhelmed by a merciless campaign of leaks and attacks emanating from entities controlled by Mr. Modi or his political allies.

The article adds:

Their organizations' bank accounts have been frozen, their passports have been seized, their family savings are dwindling and they cannot afford to pay their lawyers. Worst of all, she said, they are so busy defending themselves — they have turned over 25,000 pages of financial records — that they have been distracted from their pursuit of Mr. Modi.

It also says that the Supreme Court has often come to the rescue of Teesta Setalvad:

When a witness in one of the riot cases accused Ms. Setalvad of kidnapping, the Supreme Court dismissed the witness as a "self-condemned liar." When Ms. Setalvad was accused of coaching witnesses to make false allegations, Supreme Court justices repeatedly rejected the charge. In 2011, when the Gujarat government accused Ms. Setalvad of illegally arranging to have riot victims exhumed, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, calling it "100 percent spurious."

In 2012, an investigative panel appointed by the Supreme Court concluded that there was not enough "prosecutable evidence" to charge Modi. It is this ruling that Zakia Jafri, is now trying to overturn on appeal with help from Setalvad. If this appeal is upheld, Modi is liable to be tried on the charge of conspiracy for his handling of the 2002 carnage.

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