In one of her interviews Teesta Setalvad told me that only active and alert citizenship will bring change in this country. Not leaders but people movements will transform India.
Be it the Farmers against three bills, Indians against CAA+NRC , student’s struggle for scholarship these are all people’s movements.Yes the powerful will orchestrate riots. They will fabricate stories via media and show that universities are a hub of terrorism. They will use godi media to convince us that farmers are khalistanis. They will want you and me to believe that the people protesting against CAA+ NRC are supporters of Bangladeshi infiltrators. But they play those demonic games because they can’t bear with our resistance.
In 2002 right after the riots Teesta traveled through the length and breadth of Gujarat and night after night sent messages to people like President of India , Chief Justice of India etc about what she saw. That is how you fight for justice. You visit difficult places. You inform everyone who must know. You demand justice. Ofcourse after that she fought and is still fighting long legal battles against the most powerful of this country.
The CBI visited her house right before Zakia Jafri case was to begin in the court. Everytime her organization Citizens For Justice and Peace took up a case against the rioters there were counter cases against her. There were weird findings like she spent her NGOs money in reading Mills and Boon novels .
Ms Setalvad was asked to visit the CBI office practically every day at one point of time. She would go there. Sit there for hours. Return home and work on Zakia Jafri case. There have been endless efforts to tarnish her image. I have seen well known journalists quote Gujarat Police version as the absolute truth against her. The same police force that failed in protecting both the majority and minority of that state. Today , some 19 years after Gujarat riots cinema actors, film directors, journalists, environment activists, farmers, workers , lawyers face similar challenges and charges.
It’s not just Teesta, the human rights activist who is facing CBI and courts because she has taken up legal battles and run campaigns for victims in Gujarat, Kashmir and Assam. Even a digital platform like Newsclick faces raids. Just for being decent journalists. A centrist journalist like Rajdeep Sardesai has a case against him. Anurag Kashyap who considers himself a nationalist not a leftist faces both trolls and IT raids today. It’s not just Teesta, Sudha Bhardwaj, Soni Sori , Dr Binayak Sen anymore.
No one is coming to change things for us. We will have to protect our friends like the Adivasis do. When SPO or the police try arresting an innocent adivasi the whole village stands between them. It’s a tug of war. Like those three young women in Jamia who didn’t let go off their male friend Form collectives. Form mohalla committees. Talk to Police. Talk to administrators. Send individual and group letters to police, DMs, MLAs , MPs, Ministers, President , CJI and Prime Minister. Yes many powerful posts are biased now. But noise shakes everyone.
And when nothing works we have the streets to protest and March on.
Their time is up.