In a significant development concerning the 2002 Gujarat riots case, an Ahmedabad sessions court has rejected activist Teesta Setalvad’s application for discharge. The plea pertained to allegations of fabricating evidence linked to the communal riots that took place in Gujarat twenty years ago. Additional sessions judge A R Patel denied the application and ordered the prosecution and defense to begin trial proceedings from July 24.
The Gujarat government had opposed Setalvad’s discharge plea, accusing her of betraying the trust of riot victims and falsely implicating innocent individuals in the riots. The case, which has been closely watched, involves two other individuals – former state Director General of Police R B Sreekumar and former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt – who were arrested in June 2022 on charges of forgery and fabricating false evidence to implicate Gujarat government functionaries in the riots.
Notably, the Supreme Court had recently granted bail to Teesta Setalvad in the same case after the Gujarat High Court had denied her relief.
The state government relied on the statements of witnesses, including Rais Khan Pathan, a former employee of Setalvad’s NGO Citizen for Peace, who claimed that late Congress leader Ahmed Patel had paid the activist ₹30 lakh. Additionally, witness Narendra Brahmbhatt’s statement was used to support the government’s allegations.
Teesta Setalvad’s defense argued that the affidavits in question, which were alleged to be false, had been duly signed by the witnesses and presented before various courts. Therefore, the defense contended that these affidavits could not be considered as “fabricated evidence.” They further pointed out that the testimonies of witnesses were recorded by the courts based on the signed affidavits.
The case against Setalvad and others originated from a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, who lost his life during the 2002 riots. The Supreme Court’s judgment in June 2022 upheld the exoneration of now Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other state functionaries, while highlighting the misuse of the legal process by certain individuals for ulterior motives.
With the rejection of Setalvad’s discharge plea, the legal proceedings will move forward, keeping the spotlight on this significant chapter in India’s history and the pursuit of justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Sources By Agencies