Teesta Setalvad who fought for 2002 Gujarat riot victims arrested
A United Nations expert has joined global human rights groups in expressing concern over the arrest of Indian rights defender Teesta Setalvad a day after the country’s Supreme Court upheld the findings of a special investigation team (SIT) that cleared Prime Minister Narendra Modi of complicity in 2002 anti-Muslim riots.
Setalvad was picked by the anti-terrorism wing of the Gujarat police on Saturday afternoon from her home in Mumbai hours after India’s interior minister, Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, accused her of giving baseless information to the police about the deadly anti-Muslim violence during Modi’s chief ministership of the state.
“Deeply concerned by reports of #WHRD [Human Rights Defender] Teesta Setalvad being detained by Anti Terrorism Sqaud [sic] of Gujarat police,” said Mary Lawlor, UN special rapporteur on human rights defenders, in a tweet describing Setalvad as “a strong voice against hatred and discrimination”.
Lawlor reiterated that defending human rights was not a crime as she urged the Indian authorities to release Setalvad and put “an end to [her] persecution by Indian state”.
On Sunday, Setalvad, who long campaigned to get justice for victims of the 2002 religious violence, was produced before a local court in Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat. The police have accused her of “committing forgery and fabricating evidence”, among other charges.
That shipment was arranged through Coral Energy, a Dubai-based intermediary, but politicians have been urging the authorities to negotiate directly with President Vladimir Putin’s government.
“Two ministers are going to Russia and I will go to Qatar tomorrow to see if we can arrange concessionary terms,” Wijesekera told reporters in Colombo on Sunday.
Wijesekera had announced on Saturday that Sri Lanka was virtually out of petrol and diesel after several scheduled shipments were delayed indefinitely due to “banking” reasons.
Fuel reserves were sufficient to meet less than two days’ demand and it was being reserved for essential services, Wijesekera said, apologising for the situation.