Charges made against Teesta Setalvad by the Gujarat police and CBI has taken the focus away from the Zakia Jafri case that has charged 60 people including the present Prime Minister of the country Narendra Modi.
The case will be heard on the 4th of August in Gujarat High Court.
Teesta Setalvad has given a point-by-point rebuttal of the Gujarat police’s claims that she and her husband Javed Anand misused money raised for the riot victims, through their organisations Citizens for Justice and Peace and Sabrang Trust.
The state police has claimed that the couple had raised Rs 6-7 crore for a Gulberg Society communal violence memorial. “In spite of using the Gulberg Society and its members’ plight as poster boys for the collection of funds, no financial support was ever disbursed, no rent was reimbursed and absolutely no funds were received for rehabilitation of the affected persons.No steps were taken for the reconstruction of the houses of the inhabitants of Gulbarg society, nor the society was converted into museum,“ it said.
But Setalvad says the residents of the Gulberg Housing Society had been unable to sell their houses at market price. Some of the riot victims wanted to sell their houses and relocate to more peaceful places but failed to get a decent price for their houses. Sabrang Trust suggested fundraising to buy them and set up a memorial to the victims. By 2012, only Rs 4.6 lakh had been raised, while a fair estimate of house prices in 2007-8 amounted to Rs 3-4 crore. The office-bearers of Gulberg Society were duly informed by Sabrang, and asked to dispose of their property as they thought fit. The Rs 4.6 lakh collected for the memorial is lying untouched in the trust’s bank account. It is important to note that 4.6 lakh were given by friends and acquaintances of CJP and Sabrang Trust. Not a penny was taken by the riots victims ever. This is something every member of the Gulberg also accept.
The police affidavit also claimed that Setalvad drew an annual salary ranging from Rs 1,79,400 in 2008 to Rs 8,75,800 in 2013, while Anand’s salary increased at a compounded annual rate of 53% from Rs 2,40,000 in 2008 to Rs 8,61,000 in 2013. It alleged that “45% of the total funds received in 2008-13 by the Sabrang Trust have found their way to the petitioners either directly or through Sabrang Communication Pvt Limited which was fully owned by them”.
Setalvad has broken down this amount to show that the contested amount, which she puts at 39.5%, was spent, according to audited accounts, on legitimate activities of the two organisations. She says that between 2003 and 2014, she received an average salary of Rs 39,000 per month, for executing specific projects of CJP and Sabrang Trust funded by various donor agencies. Javed Anand drew a salary of Rs 23,500 a month during the same period.
Auditing firm D.M Sathe & Co, after re-verifying the accounts of Sabrang Trust, reported to the crime branch that they found no financial irregularities or personal expenses charged to the trust. The CJP accounts had been audited by Haribhai & Co between 2003 and 13. They also reported to the crime branch that no irregularities had been found.
Teesta Setalvad maintains that Citizens for Justice and Peace has provided documentary evidence of these claims to the Gujarat HC and given the police over 11,000 pages of cash voucher payments made by the organizations. And yet, she says, the accounts of the two organizations have been frozen for the last 13 months on the basis of illegal instructions to the banks.