Activist Teesta Setalvad, who has been arrested for allegedly committing forgery and fabricating evidence in a case related to the 2002 Gujarat riots, on Monday approached the Gujarat High Court for bail.
In an affidavit filed on July 15, the Gujarat Police alleged that Setalvad was part of a larger conspiracy along with Sreekumar and former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt to destabilise the elected state government after the 2002 riots. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state then.
This conspiracy, the police claimed, was planned at the behest of Ahmed Patel, a former Congress MP.
On July 30, a sessions court in Ahmedabad denied bail to Setalvad and Sreekumar, saying that providing relief would have encouraged wrongdoers.
Setalvad, in her petition before the High Court, said that she was being victimised for seeking justice in cases of sectarian violence. She contended that the police took her into custody without giving her notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The provision states that in cases where an arrest is not required, the police should issue a notice directing the accused persons to appear before them.
Setalvad alleged that she was assaulted while being taken into custody, and also said that she has filed a complaint before the Mumbai Police about it. The police seized three mobile phones belonging to her, but did not give her a copy of the seizure report, she added.
The activist said that she had not conspired with any political leaders, as was being alleged, but was only seeking justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots. She said that trial courts that heard cases related to the riots had not said in their judgements that she was involved in fabricating evidence or tutoring witnesses.
“...The allegation of ‘larger conspiracy’ is an afterthought and figment of imagination of the prosecution as there is absolutely no evidence to support the offences as mentioned in the FIR,” the bail petition stated.
Setalvad also said that in the Zakia Jafri Supreme Court case, the bench had not specifically directed that criminal proceedings should be initiated against her.
Jafri and Setalvad’s non-governmental organisation Citizens for Justice and Peace had moved the Supreme Court challenging the report of a Special Investigation Team that had cleared Modi of involvement in the riots. They sought a fresh investigation into the “larger conspiracy” behind the violence.
Zakia Jafri is the wife of Congress leader Ehsan Jafri, who was hacked to death when a mob went on a rampage in Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002.
The Supreme Court dismissed her petition on June 24. In its judgement, the court noted that certain people had filed the petition “to keep the pot boiling for ulterior design”. It said that these people must be “in the dock and proceeded with in accordance with law”.
A day after the judgement, Setalvad and Sreekumar were booked by the Gujarat Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad. The first information report filed against them quoted heavily from the Supreme Court judgement.
Sreekumar has not yet moved the High Court seeking bail, according to The Indian Express.