Activist Teesta Setalvad denied the Special Investigation Team (SIT) charge of accepting money from the Congress MP Ahmed Patel to topple the state government after the 2002 riots. Recently, Rais Khan Pathan, a close aide of Setalvad, testified against her and became Gujarat Police SIT’s witness.
Setalvad also tampered with the affidavit during her bail plea hearing at the City Civil and Sessions Court in Ahmedabad. The Ahmedabad court will resume hearings on July 20. She was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 468 (forgery) and 194 (giving or fabricating false evidence with intent to procure conviction for capital offence) among other offences.
Setalvad is an activist, journalist and Padma Shri recipient, and also a founding trustee and secretary of the NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP). The NGO was established after the 2002 Gujarat riots to provide legal and financial support to the victims of the riots.
Setalvad and her NGO were co-petitioners with Zakia Jafri (wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the Gulberg massacre) in the plea filed against then-chief Minister Narendra Modi and others in the Supreme Court. The SC dismissed the petition on Friday and upheld the clean chit given to Modi and others.
Jafri’s husband and former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri were killed during the riots. Setalvad spearheaded the cause of the riot victims and in 2007 pushed the Supreme Court into launching a fresh probe into the post-Godhra violence six years later.
Backed by CJP, Jafri had filed a criminal complaint for criminal and administrative culpability against top politicians and policemen, including the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi. This is separate from the Gulberg trial on the killing of Ehsan Jafri and 68 others.
Citing the statements of a witness, the SIT said the conspiracy was carried out at the behest of the late Ahmed Patel. At Patel’s behest, Setalvad received Rs 30 lakh after the post-Godhra riots in 2002, it is alleged.
Setalvad was arrested, along with former Director General of Police RB Sreekumar, for alleged fabrication of evidence in the 2002 Gujarat riots case, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given to then chief minister Narendra Modi and others in the case.