Shri Rajnath Singh ji,
We write to you to express our concern at what is clearly a vindictive attempt to silence the voice of justice for victims of the Gujarat riots 2002. Teesta Setalvad and her organization who have determinedly fought legal battles for the victims and against those who perpetrated the violence are being blatantly and unfairly targeted by both the State and Central Governments.
The most recent attempt is the statement of the Gujarat Minister of State Rajni Kant Patel who accused Teesta Setalvad of spreading "lies against the Gujarat Government, tarnishing the image of India in international circles and also to spread communal disharmony." The Gujarat Government has reportedly written to your Ministry to order a probe into alleged "misuse of foreign funds for this purpose." Ms. Setalvad has also been accused of advocating "a religion specific and Muslim supportive criminal code and also to keep the 2002 riots alive."
These wild charges show the mindset of the Government which cannot tolerate any efforts to bring justice to the victims. It is public knowledge that it is through efforts of Ms. Setalvad and her team of dedicated lawyers that the perpetrators of the riots including then Ministers in the Gujarat Government have been brought to book. To target the organization which did such service to the cause of justice is a blot on our democracy. Long before even the 2002 carnage, Ms Setalvad and her colleagues have been dedicated to the rule of law and the Indian Constitutional framework through work in the spheres of education, media and culture. Javed Anand, her colleague, has been advocating democratic and secular values within all communities, including the minorities.
As it is the Gujarat Government has already filed multiple cases against her seeking her custodial interrogation in a case of alleged mis-use of Trust funds. At present, the Supreme Court has protected her and Javed Anand against arrest, i.e. custodial interrogation. It is indeed shocking that even now the Government is insisting on her arrest.
We believe transparency and accountability in funding including foreign funding is an essential part of our democratic procedures. However this cannot be used selectively to target those whose work has exposed the criminality of some of those in power as is being done in the case of Teesta Setalvad. Such attempts have the potential of terrorising people into silence as they will believe they too will suffer the same fate if they dare to raise their voices against injustice. This will damage India's democracy.
We request you to consider these aspects and to refrain from selective targeting of persons.
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