Mumbai activists demand immediate release of Teesta Setalvad, slam Modi govt’s ‘fascist approach’

Hundreds of people gathered outside Dadar East station in Mumbai on Monday demanding the release of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad and former IPS officers RB Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhatt

Mumbai activists demand immediate release of Teesta Setalvad, slam Modi govt’s ‘fascist approach’
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Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

Hundreds of people gathered outside Dadar East station in Mumbai on Monday demanding the release of human rights activist, lawyer and journalist Teesta Setalvad, RB Sreekumar and Sanjeev Bhatt.

Many protestors bore flags of All India Youth Federation (AIYF) and Communist Party of India banners. Members of forums like Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students' Federation of India (SFI) and Centre of Trade Unions (CTU) too joined the agitation.

Freedom fighter Dawood Khan (90) travelled from Goregaon to Dadar station to register his protest against the Narendra Modi-led Union government for ‘not letting oppressed and underprivileged people raise their voice against injustice’.

“Hilter ki jo chal chalega, wo Hitler ki maut marega (The one who acts like Hitler will die like him). I am highly upset with this ongoing suppression by the Modi government. We are losing our democratic rights,” he said.

Dr S K Rege, secretary, CPI (M) said, "We have gathered to protest against the vindictive arrest of Teesta and others after the SC verdict in Zakia Jafri case. The same court in an order in 2004 had stated that all the modern day Neros were sleeping when mass rapes in took place in Gujarat. It is very surprising that SC gave compensation to Bilkis Bano and Dr Maya Kodani was convicted."

"We fail to understand this hypocrisy. It was the same Teesta who gave voice to the oppressed sections of society in Gujarat. Her arrest amounts to a murder of democracy by the rulers," he added.

He also pointed out that the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had castigated Narendra Modi after the riots, saying that he should follow Rajdharma.

Mumbai leader of CPI (M) Dr Prakash Reddy said, "This order by this Bench of the SC should have been challenged and we will challenge it. They did not give any time to activists to challenge this order; the very next day Teesta was arrested. It is an unconstitutional arrest by the Gujarat ATS. She isn't a terrorist. It is now an open secret that PM Narendra Modi wants to suppress people who raise the voice of voiceless people."

Dolphy Dsouza, convenor, Police Reforms Watch, said, "It's a sad day for justice and human rights activists. Who is going to fight for the voiceless or victims of riots? This act by the government creates a scary environment for the underprivileged, the oppressed and also for those brave hearts who defend them."

Dr Father Frazer Mascarenhas, former principal of St Xavier's College, said, "It is very disappointing to see the language used in the order by the SC.”

Teesta was detained from her Juhu residence on Sunday afternoon by the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of Gujarat Police. On Monday, she was produced in an Ahmedabad magistrate’s court and remanded to two days’ police custody.

Teesta's detention came a day after the Supreme Court upheld the clean chit given by the SIT to the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi in the riot cases of 2002.

The FIR by the police named former Gujarat IPS officers R B Sreekumar and Sanjiv Bhatt – presently lodged in Palanpur district jail – as the other two accused in the case.

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