An official of the United Nations has condemned the detention of activist Teesta Setalvad on Saturday, saying “defending human right is not a crime”. Expressing deep concern, Mary Lawlor, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, said “Teesta is a strong voice against hatred and discrimination”.
The activist was taken into custody by the Gujarat Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad from Mumbai on Saturday evening, a day after the Supreme Court slammed those who had “kept the pot boiling” on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The action came hours after Home Minister Amit Shah, in an interview with a news agency, blamed Ms Setalvad-run NGO for giving baseless information about the 2002 Gujarat riots to the police.
“I have read the judgement very carefully. The judgement clearly mentions the name of Teesta Setalvad. The NGO that was run being run by her – I don’t remember the name of the NGO- had given baseless information about the riots to the police,” he told ANI.
The Supreme Court had on Friday, dismissed as “devoid of merit” an appeal by Zakia Jafri in a plea challenging SIT’s clearance to PM Modi, then Chief Minister of Gujarat, and others in cases related to the riots. Zakia Jafri is the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed in the riots.
A three-judge bench of the court headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said that Ms Setalvad, co-petitioner in the case, exploited the emotions of Zakia Jafri.
“Antecedents of Teesta Setalvad need to be reckoned with and also because she has been vindictively persecuting this lis [dispute] for her ulterior design by exploiting the emotions and sentiments of Zakia Jafri, the real victim of the circumstances,” the court said in its order.
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