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Teesta Setalvad arrested for false testimony in Gujarat riots: Here is how the cabal of journalists and activists defended her over the years

While several witnesses in Gujarat riots case have been saying that Teesta Setalvad tutored them to give false testimonies, left liberals and journalists have been defending her

On Saturday (June 25), the Gujarat Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) took activist ‘Teesta Setalvad’ into custody for falsifying information about the 2002 Gujarat riots, along with former cop Sanjib Bhatt, and former cop and AAP leader R.B. Sreekumar.

The development came a day after the Supreme Court rejected claims of a larger conspiracy into the Gujarat riots by PM Narendra Modi. It had accused Teesta Setalvad of exploiting the emotions of petitioner Zakiya Jafri.

During an interview with ANI, Union Home Minister Amit Shah discussed her involvement in the case to defame the authorities and the government.

“Even the affidavits of the victims were signed by the NGOs. Things were fabricated this way. Teesta Setalvad’s name is openly known to all. Everyone knows how she has been involved in this,” he remarked.

Soon after the arrest of Teesta Setalvad, her supporters began casting aspersions on the integrity of the law enforcement authorities and the Judiciary. Setalvad is not just another activist who made a career out of the deadly riots of 2002.

From the very onset, she enjoyed the patronage of a cabal of activists, journalists and members of the film fraternity. Such has been the influence of Teesta Setalvad that it took decades to finally hold her accountable.

The support from Bollywood

Lyricist Javed Akhtar has been a vocal supporter of Teesta Setalvad. A tweet from 2010 read, “Who has given a bad name to the country, Teesta who is fighting for the victims or those who are responsible for the genocide?”

Screengrab of the tweets by Javed Akhtar

In several other tweets, he was seen batting for the activist and occasionally resorting to whataboutery to establish his ‘secular and neutral’ credentials. Interestingly, Akhtar had served on the Board of Trustee of a controversial NGO named Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) .

As per the website of CJP, Teesta Setalvad is the Secretary of the same organisation. Thus, other than ideological similarities, Javed Akhtar has more reasons to support the activist who is now under the custody of Gujarat ATS.

The lyricist is not the only one from the Hindi film fraternity to support Teesta Setalvad. Singer Vishal Dadlani, an AAP supporter, had also been campaigning at her behest.

In a tweet in 2015, Dadlani had concluded that Teesta was being ‘wilfully harassed’ and urged citizens to stand up for her. In 2017, he was seen promoting her propaganda book ‘Foot Soldier of the Constitution: A Memoir.’

Screengrab of the tweets by Vishal Dadlani

The singer had described her as a ‘demonised activist’ and ‘chronicler of our times.’ Following her arrest, a disillusioned Dadlani drew false equivalences between the cases of Teesta and Sajeev Bhatt with that of Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi to cast aspersions on the integrity of the Judiciary.

Journalists at work

Several journalist rose to prominence by spreading canards about the Gujarat riots. Rajdeep Sardesai had apologised to Teesta Setalvad after Supreme Court had pulled up the then Government of Gujarat over alleged ‘spurious’ cases against Teesta Setalvad.

However, the India Today journalist is yet to apologise to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decade-long insinuations about the former’s complicity in the riots.

Screengrab of the tweets by Rajdeep Sardesai

His wife, Sagarika Ghose, too had been upfront about demonising the then Gujarat Chief Minister and siding with Teesta Setalvad.

“When the definitive book is written on Modi, the role of Teesta Setalvad in shaping his post-riot persona simply cannot be ignored,” her tweet from 2012 read, although such fantasies could not reach fruition.

She also claimed that Narendra Modi must thank Teesta for forcing him to ‘rebuild his image’ and become successful.

Screengrab of the tweets by Sagarika Ghose

Sagarika Ghose, who happens to be a journalist, had also remarked, “Kudos to Teesta Setalvad and her fellow campaigners for justice in Gujarat. Vilified, abused, they have pressed on year after year.”

Serial activist supports co-activist in propaganda

Kavita Krishnan, a serial activist, had also expressed her open support for Teesta. She claimed that the Gujarat government protected rioters, who were convicted only because of Teesta’s intervention.

“Judges threatened, Teesta hounded, Gujarat 2002 cover up cops promoted in CBI. Modi invented Vyapam-style cover-up,” the Communist party member alleged.

Screengrab of the tweets by Vishal Dadlani

In another tweet, She claimed, “At Left parties March, we ask why Modi Govt is hounding Teesta, protecting corrupt Vasundhara, Shivraj, Sushma, Pankaja, Raman, Smriti?”

With the combined support of pay-for-hire activists, pretentious journalists and Bollywood cheerleaders, the fake narrative of PM Modi’s involvement in the Gujarat riots was imbibed into the Indian psyche.

Teesta Setalvad taken to Ahmedabad, produced before Magistrate

On Sunday (June 26), ‘activist’ Teesta Setalvad was brought to Ahmedabad via road by Gujarat Anti-terrorism Squad (ATS). According to journalist Ashlin Mathew, the ‘activist’ was first taken to SVP Hospital in Ahmedabad for a Covid-19 test.

She informed that Teesta Setalvad will be presented before a magistrate, following her medical test. Reportedly, the activist had asked the ACP to allow her to present her case before the magistrate.

She dubbed her arrest as a case of ‘kidnapping’ and claimed that she was not served any notice. At the conclusion of her medical test, Testa Setalvad addressed the media and said, “They have done my medical. I have a big bruise on my hand, this is what the ATS did to me. They are taking me to the magistrate’s court.”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Dutta
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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