Setalwad’s twisted response to the report about her lies and fabrications that was published in the “Times of India” newspaper:
A report in TOI appearing on April 14 on Citizens of Justice and Peace and Teesta Setalvad by Dhananjay Mahapatra is a case of irresponsible reportage. ‘‘The SIT led by former CBI director R K Raghavan told the Supreme Court on Monday…’’ reads the opening para of the report.
The fact is that neither Raghavan, nor any other SIT member was present at the apex court to tell it anything. The TOI report could only be referring to a contention made in a four page note circulated by Hemantika Wahi for the Gujarat government. It was not a note prepared by SIT.
The detailed report of SIT submitted to the Supreme Court on March 6, 2007, has not been available for study either to NHRC, the petitioners in this case, or CJP, which has intervened in this matter, or to any in the media. Any reference to it is hence hearsay and it may amount to contempt of court to write about a report which the court has specifically not made public.
In its written note that the Gujarat state circulated in court on Monday, the state has given its brief comments on the SIT report. In para four of this note the Gujarat government note refers to alleged statements made by some witnesses in the Gulbarga case before SIT that names of the accused named by them in the written statements were (according to the state of Gujarat) given to them by Teesta Setalvad and advocates. This is the version of the Gujarat state.
Besides this, Mukul Rohatgi tried to make a populist speech in court saying that incidents like the Kauser Bano case never happened. The Supreme Court disregarded this argument and did not allow Rohatgi to read anything from the report. The court went on to state that they were not interested in personal allegations and interested only ensuring that the trials are fair and the truth comes out.
It is necessary to recall that in the Best Bakery trial, too, the Gujarat government had tried to divert the court’s attention by engineering charges against Teesta Setalvad, secretary CJP, and by implicating the NGO. After a full fledged inquiry, the report of the registrar of the apex court exonerated Setalvad and the NGO completely.
— Citizens for Justice and Peace
The “Times of India” reporter responds to her charges:
My report was based on the SIT report and not any document circulated by the Gujarat government, as suggested by CJP. Whether any section of the media has the report or not is irrelevant as TOI has access to the report. Let me quote from the report.
Page 9 of the SIT report on the Gulbarga Society carnage on February 28, 2002, says: ‘‘Insistence of 19 witnesses to take on record their signed statements which according to them were prepared by Smt Teesta Setalvad and advocate Tirmiji’’ — the reference here is to witnesses giving signed computerised statements which were not accepted by the investigating officer (IO) as under Section 161 the officer is required to write the statement of witnesses after interrogating them personally.
The SIT report says on page 10, ‘‘All of them had brought with them ready-made statements prepared on computer and requested IO to take them on record. IO explained to them that according to law they had to be questioned and examined and their statements reduced in writing by the IO.’’ It goes on to say, ‘‘On questioning them in respect of the typed statements, all 3 of them stated that the computerised prepared statements were given to them by Smt Teesta Setalvad and advocate Tirmiji and that they had merely signed and initialed on such prepared statements.’’
The report goes on to say that ‘‘there are discrepancies between the prepared statements and statements recorded by the IO. In respect of 6 witnesses, there are contradictory statements relating to the names of the accused they were linking with (the) crime.’’
Page 11 says, when ‘‘questioned about the discrepancies’’, the six witnesses ‘‘stated that they had prepared the statements and not Setalvad and advocate Tirmiji.’’ In other words, the latter witnesses changed their version about who had prepared their signed statements.
The report also says (page 8) the allegation about the then Ahmedabad police commissioner C P Pandey visiting Gulbarga Society at 10.30am and assuring police protection to Muslims but not following it up was wrong as ‘‘he was proved to have gone to Sola Civil Hospital to take care of the dead bodies of Sabarmati Express arson victims.’’
The report also cites some instances of police dereliction of duty, such as by senior police inspector K G Erda of Maghani Nagar PS who was found to be ‘‘falsely creating the record’’ and ‘‘allowing the destruction of evidence in order to screen offenders.’’ It also found the pre-SIT IO guilty of ‘‘preparing slipshod inquest reports,’’ etc. In short, my report was based on the actual SIT report. The excerpts from it should prove this beyond doubt.
— Dhananjay Mahapatra