The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Sunday demanded withdrawal of the cases and release of social activist Teesta Setalvad, retired Indian Police Service officer R.B. Sreekumar and others.
“The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) condemns the arrest of Teesta Setalvad who fought relentlessly for justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat violence. Her arrest is an ominous threat to all democratic minded citizens not to dare to question the role of the State or the government under whose regime communal violence takes place. This is abhorrent to democratic rights of citizens,” said the party in a statement.
The CPI(M) said, “However, the action of the Gujarat administration in her arrest has been enabled by the questionable verdict of the three-member Bench of the Supreme Court which has made the complainant into the accused and ordering ‘all those involved in such abuse of process need to be in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with the law’.”
“It means any SIT (Special Investigation Team) established by the Court is to be considered outside the purview of judicial appeals and if anyone appeals against it, as did Zakia Jafri and Teesta Setalvad in the present case, then they are charged with ‘abuse of process’. A fight for justice for 16 years is described in unusual derogatory terms as keeping the ‘pot boiling for ulterior design’,” said the party.
The party said, “It should be noted that the Court appointed amicus curiae in the SIT case, while agreeing with many recommendations of the SIT, had also recorded that certain sections of the IPC (Indian Penal Code) causing hatred among communities should be considered. Earlier in April 2004, it was the Supreme Court itself which had described the then government leaders as ‘modern day Neros’. The present verdict does not address any of these issues. It punishes those who, like Teesta, believe in the judicial system. It is a fit case for a curative petition.”
The Congress stayed away from making a direct comment on the arrest. Senior party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Saturday had said that the Supreme Court judgment – which dismissed a plea to investigate a larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat riots – should not be politicised.
On Sunday, he tweeted, “The charge by BJP spokespersons that Teesta Setalvad acted at the behest of Congress president Smt. Sonia Gandhi is wholly bogus and baseless. The Congress party condemns these allegations most forcefully. These allegations are in direct contempt of the Supreme Court’s judgment.”