Gujarat riots: Meet Teesta Setalvad, the co-petitioner against PM Modi
Teesta Setalvad—a Mumbai-based journalist and activist is the secretary and founding trustee of the non-profit organization Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP)—which was founded after the 2002 Gujarat riots. She is also a recipient of the Padma Shri award. On Saturday, the Gujarat Police's Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested her, a day after the Supreme Court admonished those who "kept the pot boiling" over the riots.
Why does this story matter?
In 2002, Setalvad was one of the earliest activists to take up cases of the Gujarat riot victims, with the CJP providing victims with legal assistance. MC Setalvad, India's first attorney-general, was her grandfather. Setalvad was a co-petitioner, while Zakia Jafri was the main petitioner in the Supreme Court case that was dismissed on Friday, contesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's exoneration.
Why did the police detain her?
On the basis of an FIR lodged by Inspector Darshansinh Barad, who quotes extensively from the Supreme Court's order, the Gujarat cops detained Setalvad on charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery, and record falsification, among other sections of the IPC. Ex-IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is already in jail for another case, is also named in the nine-page FIR filed on behalf of Gujarat state.
SC bench said plea was devoid of merit
A Supreme Court bench of justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari, and CT Ravikumar said the appeal filed by Jafri, the wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri who was killed during the violence at Ahmedabad's Gulberg Society in 2002, was "devoid of merits and deserved to be dismissed." Jafri had challenged the 2017 Gujarat High Court order rejecting her plea against the SIT decision.
'Those involved for procedural abuse need to be in dock'
"All those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law," the SC order stated, presuming Jafri's appeal was submitted under the "dictation of someone." As per reports, Setalvad has had a number of run-ins in different cases with the CBI and the Gujarat Police since Modi became India's prime minister in 2014.
Modiji endured silently for 19 years: Shah on SC decision
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah hailed the Supreme Court's decision in the Gujarat riots case which has rejected a request for an investigation into a "larger conspiracy." Shah stated on Saturday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "endured false allegations" related to the Gujarat riots for 19 years in silence because the matter was sub-judice and all allegations against him were politically motivated.
Setalvad was detained shortly after Shah's remarks
Setalvad was detained just hours after Shah reportedly stated in an interview that she provided false information about the 2002 Gujarat riots and participated in a campaign to tarnish PM Modi's reputation.
She was human rights worker when riots took place
According to reports, when the Gujarat riots started, Setalvad, 60, was already actively engaged in human rights work through her Mumbai-based NGO, Sabrang Trust. She visited Gujarat, interacted with the victims, and made the decision to follow their cases to provide them with justice.
What happened in SC during the hearing on Friday?
Appearing for the Special Investigation Team (SIT), senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said the SC should endorse the Gujarat HC's decision. Meanwhile, representing the petitioners, senior advocate Kapil Sibal cited the work done by the second petitioner Setalvad's organizations. He added the matter could be closed "but if you feel that offenses have been committed, then who is responsible is a matter of investigation."
Who was Ehsan Jafri and what exactly happened?
Congress leader Jafri was among the 68 people killed at Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002, a day after the S6 coach of the Sabarmati Express was burnt at Godhra, killing 59 people and triggering the Gujarat riots.
SIT gave Modi clean chit in 2012
On February 8, 2012, the SIT filed a closure report giving a clean chit to the then-CM Modi and 63 others, including senior government officials, saying there was no prosecutable evidence against them. Zakia filed a petition in the apex court in 2018 challenging the Gujarat High Court's October 5, 2017 order rejecting her plea against the decision of the Special Investigation Team.Share this timeline