We, the undersigned express our deep shock at the rejection of the anticipatory bail application of Teesta Setalvad and four others in what is being called the Gulberg Embezzlement Case, by the City sessions court of Ahmedabad. From its beginning, the so-called embezzlement has been the concoction of elements instigated by the state government of Gujarat, including the Gujarat Crime Branch. In January 2014, an FIR was registered against the five accused for defrauding the members of the Gulberg Society of funds meant for the building of the Gulberg Memorial commemorating the state sponsored carnage.
It may be in order to recall the facts of the case, especially, since a section of the media is spreading canards that the funds thus raised were used for buying jewellery, wine and such like, and gloating over the possibility of the arrest of Teesta Setalvad and others.
First, the complainant in the case, Feroze Khan, had forged the letterhead of the Gulberg Society to file the complaint. A written complaint to this effect was sent to the Crime Branch, Ahmedabad Police by the office bearers of the Gulberg Society.
Second, as early as in March 2013, when the allegations first surfaced, the Centre for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust, had provided satisfactory explanation to the Crime Branch and investigation had been dropped. CJP had clarified that at no point had it collected any amount or money or land from any person residing at or claiming to be part of Gulberg society. CJP and Sabrang issued a public affidavit which showed that only Rs 4.5 lakhs had been collected for the proposed museum, of which Rs 50,000 was from foreign sources – but as the land prices spiraled, the dream for a memorial was abandoned. Its audited accounts and resolutions passed in the society proved as much.
Third, months after the investigation had been closed, the complaint was revived and the FIR registered in January 2014, as CJP was preparing for the filing of Smt. Zakia Jafri’s protest petition. It was a blatant move to jeopardize and demoralize the petitioners by the Gujarat government.
Fourth, two of the co-accused in the case are survivors of the terrible massacre in Gulberg Society in February 2002: Salimbhai Sandhi who lost five family members including his son Mohammed; and Firoz Gulzar Pathan who also lost five from his family. The third co-accused is Tanvir Jafri, son of the former MP, Ehsan Jafri, who was also hacked and burnt to death in the massacre.
There can be little doubt that this FIR is part of a long series of vindictive actions undertaken by the vengeful Gujarat government – fraudulent cases have been filed earlier too – to teach Teesta Setalvad and CJP a ‘lesson’ for continuing the struggle for justice. We are disappointed that the sessions court has chosen to reject the anticipatory bail applications, thus making their arrests imminent.
In extending our heartfelt solidarity with Teesta Setalvad and other friends today, we reiterate our commitment to sharpen the struggle to preserve the values of democracy, secularism and justice.
Anuradha Chenoy, Academic, JNU
Adeel Mehdi, Academic, Delhi
Anil Thayarath Varghese, Delhi Solidarity Group
Ahmed Sohaib, Academic, Delhi
Ania Loomba, Academic, USA
A Faizur Rehman, the Moderates forum
Amit Sengupta, Senior Journalist, Delhi
Anusha Rizvi, Filmmaker, Delhi
Apoorvanand, Professor, University of Delhi.
Arshad Ajmal, Activist, Patna
Asad Ashraf, Jamia Students Solidarity Forum, Delhi
D. Gabriele, Pennurimai Iyakkam
Deepti, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Delhi
Farhathullah Khan, Chennai
Gautam Bhan, writer and activist, Delhi
Ghazi Shahnawaz, Academic, Delhi
Harsh Kapoor, Activist, Delhi
Harsh Mander, Activist& Writer, Delhi
Ilina Sen, Academic, Mumbai
J.S. Bandukwala, Academic, Gujarat
Janaki Srinivasan, Panjab University, Chandigarh
Javed Naqvi, Senior Journalist, Delhi
Jaya Sharma, Independent trainer, researcher and activist, Delhi
John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council, Delhi
Juhi Jain, Feminist activist and writer, Delhi
Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Academic, JNU, Delhi
K.M. Sreemali, Historian, Delhi
Kamayani Mahabal, Activist and Lawyer, Mumbai
Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, PUCL
Kiran Bhatty, Academic, Delhi
Kiran Shaheen, Activist, Delhi
Kriti, Activist, Delhi
Kumar Sundaram, Anti Nuke Activist, Delhi
Lesley A Esteves, Queer Rights Activist, Delhi
Mahtab Alam, Activist, Delhi/ Bangalore
Manisha Sethi, Academic, Delhi
Mansi Sharma, Activist, Delhi
Mayur Suresh, Advocate and legal researcher, Delhi/ London.
Mario da Penha, Historian, Mumbai
Mona Das, Academic, University of Delhi
M. Reyaz, Journalist, Delhi
Mubasshir Mushtaq, freelance journalist, Malegaon
Nabanipa Bhattacharjee, Academic, Delhi
Nandini Rao, Activist, New Delhi
Noor Enayat, Brand Consultant, Delhi
Ovais Sultan Khan, Activist, Delhi
Pramada Menon, Delhi
Ponni Arasu, Chennai
Praveen Kumar, Satyawati College, University of Delhi.
Pervez Bari, Journalist, Bhopal
Purwa Bharadwaj, Delhi
Rahul Govind, Academic, University of Delhi
Ram Puniyani, writer and activist, Mumbai
Rama Srinivasan, Research Scholar, Providence
Rohini Hensman, writer and activist, Mumbai
Rituparna Borah, Queer Feminist Activist, New Delhi
Rohit Prajapati, Activist, Gujarat
Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi
Sanghamitra Misra, Academic, University of Delhi
Satnam, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre
Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi
S.Q. Maqsood, Activist, Hyderabad
Sumathi Sudhakar, Writer, Chennai
Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, Delhi
Shohini Ghosh, Academic and Filmmaker, Delhi
Subhash Ghatade, Writer and Activist, Delhi
Sukla Sen, EKTA, (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
Sunalini Kumar, Academic, Delhi
Tanweer Fazal, Academic, JNU
Trideep Pais, Advocate, Delhi
Trupti Shah, Activist, Gujarat
Uma V. Chandru, Member, WSS National Campaign
Uma Chakravarti, Historian and activist, Delhi
Vani Subrahmaniam, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre
Varsha Mehta, Consultant, Forestry and Rural Livelihoods, New Delhi/ Ahmedabad
Vineet Tiwari, Sandarbh, Indore
Wilfred D Costa, INSAF, Delhi
Zafarullah Khan, Advocate, Chennai
Zaheer Ahmed Sayeed, Neurologist, Chennai
Zuleikha Jabeen, Activist, Delhi