New Delhi: India on Wednesday slammed the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights over its comments on the legal action against activist Teesta Setalvad and two former IPS officers, terming the remarks as unwarranted and interference in India’s independent judicial system.
The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, in a statement, also said that authorities in India act against violations of law strictly in accordance with established judicial processes and that labeling such legal actions as persecution for activism is misleading and unacceptable.
The statement read:
“We have seen a comment by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) regarding legal action against Teesta Setalvad and two other persons.
The remarks by OHCHR are completely unwarranted and constitute an interference in India’s independent judicial system.
Authorities in India act against violations of law strictly in accordance with established judicial processes.
Labeling such legal actions as persecution for activism is misleading and unacceptable.”
The response came following a tweet by the UN Human Rights office led by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, voicing concern over the arrest and detention of Setalvad and ex-IPS officers Sanjiv Bhatt and RB Sreekumar.
“We are very concerned by the arrest and detention of #WHRD @TeestaSetalvad and two ex-police officers and call for their immediate release. They must not be persecuted for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 #GujaratRiots,” it said in a tweet.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch also voiced concern over the arrests of the three persons.
On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court, while upholding the SIT clean chit given to PM Modi in the Gujarat riots case, said that activist Teesta Setalvad exploited the emotions of petitioner Zakia Jafri for “ulterior motives”.
Gujarat ATS detained Mumbai-based activist Teesta Setalvad and arrested ex-DGP RB Sreekumar on Saturday in connection with an FIR filed in Ahmedabad against them and Sanjiv Bhatt, alleging “criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people” in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
The case pertains to the Gulbarg Society incident, in which 68 people, including former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, were killed in the riots triggered by the burning of a train coach in which 59 pilgrims perished in February 2002. A decade later, the SIT report, exonerated Narendra Modi, citing “no prosecutable evidence” in the Gulbarg Society case.
Teesta Setalvad is the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an organization formed to advocate for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots.