Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad is alleging harassment at the hands of Gujarat Police’s Crime Branch, stating that she is being kept from travelling overseas to Canada and the US due to ongoing intimidation her family is facing in Gujarat.
The allegations come as the Bombay High Court on Thursday ordered that Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand couldn’t be arrested till May 2 in a criminal case lodged against them by the Gujarat police for alleged misappropriation of funds.
A bench of Justice Revati Mohite-Dere gave the two interim protection from arrest on their plea for “transit anticipatory bail”, filed on Wednesday.
One of the founders of civil society outfit Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand have been accused of swindling funds to the tune of Rs 1.4 crore from the Ministry of Human Resources Development by their former employee Rais Khan. According to Khan, the alleged embezzlement happened during the tenure of United Progressive Alliance II (UPA II) government.
Alleging political vendetta in Khan’s allegations, Setalvad highlighted that the Rs 1.4 crore grant was used to impart “constitutional values and pluralism” to around 6,000 students in Maharashtra’s schools.
A press release issued by Sabrang Trust, which carried out the educational initiative over a three-year period in 2010, 2011 and 2012, said, “Over the period of three years the Ministry of Human Resource Development released grants worth Rs. 1,42,23,797/- (inclusive of bank interest) of which the Trust utilized a total of Rs.1,36,31,686/- and the un-used funds which amounted to Rs. 5,91,871/- was duly returned to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 12.06.2014.”
“Teesta Setalvad’s work in the field of education has been widely recognized and she was appointed to the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) Committee (CABE is a board constituted by the Parliament) in 2004 and served on the board till the year 2014,” the press release said.
Sabrang Trust also pointed out that after having a fallout with Khan in 2010, the former employee joined hands with the BJP and was eventually rewarded a post in the Central Waqf Board.
“Khan enjoys the patronage of the regime in Delhi, having been appointed to the Central Wakf Board also has senior counsel closely associated with the ruling party appearing for him,” Sabrang has said.
“In two judgments, in the Sardarpura matter and the Naroda Patiya matter, the judgments have passed remarks against Khan labelling his conduct as interference in the administration of justice,” the social outfit added.
Khan had reportedly even approached the Bombay High Court with his allegations, but his accusations failed to move the judges who granted transit bail to the couple till May 2. According to Setalvad, Khan had even urged the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to act against Setalvad in the case, but was turned away by the apex investigation agency. According to Setalvad, it was Gujarat Police who played ball with Khan and filed a case against them.
A vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Setalvad has been demanding criminal proceedings against the PM for his alleged complicity in the Gujarat communal riots of 2002, when Modi was the state’s chief minister. The CJP was founded in 2002 to advocate justice for the victims of Gujarat riots.