Monday, August 1, 2011

Report on 28th-29th July 2011

Dear All,
We had an extremely fruitful two days campaign on the issue of justice in Gujarat.

Day 1: 28th July in Vadodra
Had a press Conference to announce the Vadodra Dist. Committee of the Committee for the Defence of Teesta Setalvad and Justice in Gujarat and to announce our programmes. More than 30 reporters turned up, including 6 TV channels. Next (on 29th July) there was good coverage in Times of India (Vadodra edition) on the third page with almost banner headline and extensive coverage of what we announced. Besides Times of India, the news was covered in mainstream Gujarati newspapers, including Sandesh, Gujarat Samachar, Divya Bhaskar. This we ourselves checked. Trying to get the papers for our records and as soon as I get them, I will scan the news for circulation. The Press Conference was addressed by Adv. BA Desai, Prof. Juzer Bandukwala and Rohit Prajapati. All three of them handled the questions well and sum and substance of their address was that justice to the victims was being subverted by unduly influencing the criminal justice system; that systematic effort was on to influence witnesses, and Rais Khan, Zaheera Sheikh, Yasmeen Sheikh, Nanumiya and the rest were all examples; That those who could not be influenced were targeted – Sanjiv Bhatt, R B Sreekumar, Rahul Sharma etc., of which, the false cases against Teesta Setalvad was the latest example; That The Committee will follow Gandhian ideals of dharma which included nyay and for Gandhi being a good Hindu included acknowledging and affirming the truth of all religions, including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism; that the Committee will firmly resist anymore attempts to subvert justice and target Teesta Setalvad or any other person fighting for justice in Gujarat.
Prof. Juzer Bandukwala, who is one of the vice presidents of the All India Committee had accepted the responsibilities of being President of Vadodra Dist. of the Committee
It was also announced that Dist. Committees will be formed in all the 19 Dist. Committees of Gujarat, particularly those that were worst affected during the 2002 carnage.
Rohit Prajapati has already circulated the press-release distributed on 28th July, I will be forwarding the same in my next mail for everybody's information.
The programme would not have been a success without the hard work of Rohit Prajapati, Yusuf Sheikh and Dr. Sipahi with active guidance from Prof. Juzer Badukwala.
With these important achievements we proceeded next day to Lunavada where Teesta had been summoned to give her statement to the Police in the Pandharwada case. On the way we read the good news in Indian Express about Supreme Court reserving its order in the Zakia Jaffri case and not disclosing the amicus curie's report to the SIT or Gujarat Govt., which is essentially a snub to both. This was a double whammy.

Day 2: 29th July in Lunavada
We all assembled in a small house, served with tea and biscuits by the local people in Lunavada and got the third good news there – the Pandharwada investigation was stayed by the Supreme Court. You all must have already read the mail from Sukla Sen to that effect. our task was then simple – to report to the Investigating Officer of the order of Supreme Court, get the presence of Teesta recorded and tell the IO he could not take Teesta's statement now. The small house was teeming with people from many districts in Gujarat who had assembled to declare their support to Teesta and there was a huge crowd outside the house. There were about 80 – 100 people in all from Godhara, Ahmedabad, Panchmahal, and other surrounding areas and districts. Among those present were Adv. B A Desai, RB Sreekumar (former DGP), Prof. Bandukwala, Adv. Aparna Bhat (who has been representing Teesta in the Supreme Court), Bharat Jhala (who was representing Malika Sarabhai as she was abroad), Rupaben Modi (whose son was lost during the riots) Dr. Sipahi, Yusuf Sheikh, Keshubhai from Aman Samuday, Tanvi Jaffri (eldest son of Ehsan Jaffri) Adv. Shafi, Adv. Vohra, Javed Anand, and many other prominent personalities.
We went in a procession through the streets of Lunavada singing "Ishwar Allah Tero Naam; Sabko Sanmati De Bhagwan" passing through the Muslim as well as Hindu Neighbourhoods in Lunavada town. People greeted us and cheered us. Some were with stern faces wandering what is happening. Many gathered to see Teesta. As we reached the police station, while the rest of us waited outside, Teesta, Adv. Desai, R B Sreekumar, Adv. Aparna Bhat, Adv. Vora, Adv. Shafi and others entered the police station. A battery of media personnel were already waiting with their cameras and voice recorders on. The IO – Ninama – DySP, was told of the court order, Teesta's attendance was recorded (now they won't be able to claim that Teesta is absconding witness). Adv. Desai and Adv. Aparna Bhat addressed the media and answered their queries and we returned with lots of memories of love and hospitality that we received from the people of Lunavada.

Next course of Action:
To form Ahmedabad Dist. Committee a meeting and press conference has been called on 10th of August. Venue etc. will be notified to all as soon as logistics have been settled. There will be a meeting on Gandhiji, communal harmony and justice

Irfan Engineer
Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution


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