Friday, March 21, 2014

Fighting dirty

The long knives are out for Teesta Setalvad. She has  to fight communal forces on one hand and paid news organizations on the other hand. There will be no expectation of even-handedness, even fairness and independence in journalism.

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This Press Release specifically counters the malicious lies in the Affidavit in Sur-Rejoinder filed by KN Patel, IO Crime Branch for the Respondent State of Gujarat dated 18.03.2014 in Ahmedabad (and replicated with few changes in Mumbai dated 19.03.2014). For those newspapers/publications that published screaming headlines of us misusing funds, without contacting any office bearers for clarifications, we appeal in the interests of both fair and independent journalism and basic honesty to print this Rebuttal with the same enthusiasm and prominence.

In a counter affidavit filed by her in the Sessions Court in Ahmedabad on March 21, 2014, in response to the affidavit in sur-rejoinder filed by the Gujarat police, Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace, has accused the Gujarat police of once again resorting to blatant falsehoods, twisted facts, deliberate jugglery of accounts and foul innuendos, with the malicious intent of colouring the public discourse and prejudice the public mind. What is most shocking is the brazen manner in which the Gujarat police continue to spread falsehoods through signed affidavits, indicating callous disregard of the justice process. This is nothing short of perjury.
 

It is evident from the affidavits filed by the Gujarat police that they are in full possession of all our audited accounts, bank accounts (organizational and personal) and personal credit card bills. All of these have been obtained through highly questionable means, which itself is a subject for investigation. That apart, the foul intent and malice of the Gujarat police is more than evident from the fact that despite being in possession of dubiously acquired information it continues to heap falsehood upon falsehood

Neither CJP nor Sabrang Trust has any debit/credit cards in their respective names. For logistical convenience, with the full knowledge and consent of the trustees and auditors of the two trusts, air and train tickets are frequently booked online (using the personal credit cards of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand). It is only such expenses strictly related to the legitimate activities which are reimbursed by Sabrang Trust and CJP after due verification. 

Despite being fully aware of this fact, the Gujarat police have claimed, with obvious dubious motive, that a host of personal expenses, including hair-cuts, purchase of grocery, shoes, jewellery etc. have been paid for by the trusts. Such expenses met out of public funds should “shock the conscience of the court”, claims the sur-rejoinder. If anything, it is the blatant lies on oath repeatedly indulged by the police that should stir the conscience of court.
 

CJP and Sabrang Trust emphatically and categorically deny the claim made in the affidavit in sur-rejoinder that cash withdrawals from the two trusts totalling Rs. 75,28,000 (over many years) have been siphoned off or pocketed by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. That this too is an entirely baseless allegation can be established through the accounts books and cash vouchers of both CJP and Sabrang Trust.
 

Similarly, the sur-rejoinder claims that funds from the bank accounts of CJP and Sabrang Trust running into lakhs have been transferred into fixed deposits in the “family personal names” of Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. CJP and Sabrang Trust challenge the Gujarat police to provide evidence of even a single rupee thus transferred from the bank accounts of either of the two trusts into fixed deposits in personal names. Instead, the Gujarat police, functioning in nexus with one family of the Gulberg society and a former employee of CJP cited as “witness” in the specious FIR, is functioning at the behest of the political bigwigs in the state who are seriously affected by the persistent struggle for justice aided by CJP.

The sur-rejoinder reiterates that only Rs. 2.49 lakh was spent on Legal Aid expenses. We challenge the Gujarat police to provide proof of this totally bogus claim. CJP has spent over Rs. 2 crore (nearly hundred times the police claim) on Legal Aid to the victims-survivors of the state-sponsored Gujarat pogrom and this can easily be established through accounts books, voucher files and annually audited accounts. This deliberate underestimation is deliberate and meant to prejudice the public mind.


Trustees:
I.M. Kadri Nandan Maluste Teesta Setalvad Cyrus Guzder
Javed Akhtar Alyque Padamsee Anil Dharker
Ghulam Pesh Imam
Javed Anand  Rahul Bose Cedric Prakash

regards