Thursday, November 4, 2010

SIT to probe Setalvad for “masterminding affidavits”

The special trial court, hearing the post-Godhra Gulberg Society massacre case, has asked the Special Investigation Team to initiate a probe against the Mumbai-based human rights activist and secretary of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Teesta Setalvad, for allegedly tutoring witnesses and filing false affidavits.

Judge B. U. Joshi issued the order after Ms. Setalvad's one-time close associate Raees Khan Pathan filed an application on Wednesday accusing her of masterminding a series of “false affidavits” in various courts to “strengthen” the riot-related cases of 2002 and influence the higher courts to move the trial outside Gujarat.

Mr. Pathan worked closely with Ms. Setalvad when affidavits in various post-Godhra riot cases were filed and preliminary work was done by Mumbai-based voluntary organisations working for the riot victims. Mr. Pathan was instrumental in investigating various riot cases on behalf of the CJP and bringing them to the notice of the judiciary after the State police allegedly tried to sweep them under the carpet.

Lately, however, the duo parted ways and Ms. Setalvad alleged that her one-time associate had been “purchased” by Hindu leaders in their bid to introduce an element of doubt in the authenticity of the riot-related cases.

Mr. Pathan urged the court to examine him as a witness so that he could “expose” how Ms Setalvad “tutored” victims and witnesses. They were also persuaded to sign false affidavits or on blank papers on which she later prepared false affidavits.

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