Ahmedabad: Activists from Gujarat, including a former Gujarat chief minister, extended their support to Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand on Wednesday, alleging the recent CBI action against her was an "open misuse of power" by the Centre.
"We, the undersigned, express our profound dismay and disquiet at the continued official harassment of human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand by the central government," said a statement signed by rights activists from Gujarat, including former Gujarat Chief Minister Suresh Mehta.
"After the BJP-led government was installed in Delhi in May 2014, the country has witnessed open official efforts to foist a large variety of charges of financial irregularities on them, in order to harass them, tarnish their reputations and to secure their arrests," the statement said.
"Fortunately, interventions by the higher judiciary have protected them so far. However, the latest raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on their home and offices in Mumbai on July 14, 2015 are signs of continuing open misuse of official bodies to harass these human rights defenders," the statement said.
On July 14, the CBI searched four places in Mumbai, including the premises of Teesta Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand as well as the office of her firm, Sabrang Communications and Publishing.
On July 8, the CBI had registered a case against all of them under sections of the Indian Penal Code, which are related to criminal conspiracy (Section 120-B) along with provisions of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976.
"It is well known that Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand fought an unrelenting battle not only to bring criminals who committed gruesome hate crimes against Muslims during the 2002 carnage...," the statement said.
"They assisted the widow of a former MP who was slaughtered in the carnage, Zakia Jafri, to fight a brave court battle," the statement said.
"They also appealed against court orders to free on bail, prominent BJP leaders like Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi who were convicted for the worst massacre in Naroda Patiya," the statement said.
"We urge the central government and the CBI to desist from employing such deplorable tactics which are inspired by nothing other than malice and revenge," the statement said.
"The government and CBI should know that democratic forces and the human rights movement in the country stand in support of both Teesta Setavad and Javed Anand, and such brutal efforts to silence the voices of dissent will be duly resisted," the statement said.
The statement is undersigned by former Gujarat Chief Minister Suresh Mehta, senior lawyer Girish Patel, Gujarat People's Union of Civil Liberties convenor Gautam Thaker, veteran journalist as well as editor of Gujarati periodical Nirikshak, Prakash Shah, economist and education activist Rohit Shukla and Cedric Prakash of the NGO Prashant.