A day after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad against the clean chit given to the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and absolved him of any responsibility in the massacre of 69 Muslims including former MP Ehsan Jafri, Gujarat ATS barged into the house of Setalvad in Mumbai and took her into custody. She was taken to Ahmedabad for interrogation.
The detention or arrest followed an FIR filed this morning in Ahmedabad, which cited the Supreme Court judgment which insinuated that Setalvad and her NGO had given false information to the various courts and SIT in a bid to tarnish the image of Narendra Modi. The Home Minister Amit Shah in an interview to ANI had also spoken of Setalvad and her NGO and accused them of running a campaign against Modi.
Legal circles reacted with shock and questioned the Supreme Court’s judgment and observations unrelated to the issue before the court. The apex court, they felt, need not have made the insinuations against Setalvad in its observations. They also pointed out that none of the judges owned up the authorship of the judgment. Reacting to the arrest of Setalvad, they questioned whether this is the first time an observation by the Supreme Court has been used by the police to lodge an FIR.
Setalvad, who was a co-petitioner along with Zakia Jafri, is a noted activist who founded ‘Communalism Combat’. She and her NGO has acted closely with the victims of Gujarat riots in 2002 and sought justice for them. Daughter of the first Attorney General of India, Setalvad has been active in writing on injustice meted out to the riot victims.
While Teesta was picked up from Mumbai, Gujarat Police’s Crime Branch also detained retired Director General of Police R B Sreekumar. The FIR by Darshansinh B. Barad, partially in Gujarati also names former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt presently lodged in Palanpur district Jail as accused no 1 in its FIR.
Teesta's lawyer Vijay Hiremath said, “We were not informed. They barged into her house and also assaulted her (Teesta). "
Before being taken away to Ahmedabad, the activist gave a handwritten complaint to Santacruz police station. She stated in her two-page complaint that one J H Patel (police inspector) and another lady officer in yellow T-shirt and jeans not only barged into her bedroom but also assaulted her. She has a big bruise on her left hand which she has shown to her lawyer Devyani Kulkarni. They did not show any FIR to her. The duo along with 8-10 barged into her compound.
To her complaint the Mumbai Police has taken her complaint, the Spokesperson & DCP Sanjay Latkar said, "No medical examination was conducted before she was taken away to Ahmedabad. Gujarat Police have intimated Santacruz Police. They have taken her with them. She has given a complaint to Santacruz police station and they are processing her application.”
The three named in the FIR, Sreekumar, Bhatt and Setalvad are allegedly charged under sections 468, 471, 194, 211, 218, and 120B of the IPC. The FIR cites observations from the SC verdict to state “At the end of the day, it appears to us that a coalesced effort of the disgruntled officials of the State of Gujarat along with others was to create sensation by making revelations which were false to their own knowledge. The falsity of their claims had been fully exposed by the SIT after a thorough investigation. Intriguingly, the present proceedings have been pursued for last 16 years (from submission of complaint dated 8.6.2006 running into 67 pages and then by filing protest petition dated 15.4.2013 running into 514 pages) including with the audacity to question the integrity of every functionary involved in the process of exposing the devious stratagem adopted (to borrow the submission of learned counsel for the SIT), to keep the pot boiling, obviously, for ulterior design. As a matter of fact, all those involved in such abuse of process, need to be in the dock and proceed in accordance with law.”