The Gujarat High Court has made a significant remark in the case related to Godhrakand, indicating that it is not inclined to grant any relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad in the Pandarwada mass grave digging case. This case has brought the ghost of Godhrakand back into the spotlight.
Setalvad is named in the case for exhuming 28 bodies from a mass burial site near Pandwarda in Panchmahal district following the Godhra violence in December 2005. She had approached the court in 2017 after her name was included in an FIR registered in 2011. The Gujarat Police filed an FIR against Setalvad in 2006 on charges of fabricating false evidence, destroying evidence, trespassing on graveyards, and hurting religious sentiments.
The High Court’s stance has been influenced by Setalvad’s record. During the hearing, Justice Sandeep Bhatt told Setalvad’s lawyer that he was not inclined to grant relief after reviewing the record. The lawyer argued that no offense was committed in this case and termed it as political repression, a claim the judge found to be an overused term. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till January 9.
The Lunawada municipality had filed a complaint against seven people, including Rais Khan, former coordinator of the Setalvad-based NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace. Following allegations from the riot victims, their relatives claimed that they were buried without properly following the procedure for post-mortem, leading the High Court to order a CBI investigation.
Setalvad’s name was included in the case based on Khan’s statement after their separation. Khan claimed that the exhumation of the bodies was done on his orders. The state government, however, maintained that the burial took place only after the site was duly notified as a graveyard. This case has put the Gujarat government in a difficult position and it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold.
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