Indian diaspora condemn arrest of Setalvad, Sreekumar and Zubair

Washington, DC: The arrest of journalist Mohammed Zubair, and human rights activists Teesta Setalvad and R.B. Sreekumar, was condemned by the Indian diaspora in the US, according to a press release.

Teesta Setalvad and Sreekumar played key roles in ensuring the victims of the Gujarati massacre against Muslims in 2002 received justice. The co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News is Mohammed Zubair. It is obvious that the Indian police’s detention of them on fabricated accusations is retaliation for their advocacy and pursuit of justice and truth.

Citizens for Justice and Peace, an NGO founded by Setalvad, was created to support victims in holding government figures, such as the at-the-time CM Narendra Modi, allegedly accountable for their roles in the massacre. In 2013, she collaborated with Zakia Jafri, the widow of former MP Ehsan Jafri, who was burnt alive during the communal conflagration, bring a complaint against Modi before the Supreme Court.

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At his residence in Ahmedabad city on February 28, 2002, Zakia Jafri had protected Muslims from a mob of Hindu rioters. Gujarat officials were called by Jafri, including PM Modi, but to no effect. Sixty-nine people died when the crowd set fire to his housing complex, including Jafri.

Jafri has maintained that top Gujarat officials associated with Modi planned the violence. However, the case was rejected by the Supreme Court on June 25 and Setalvad was essentially charged with a “conspiracy” against Modi. A few hours later, Setalvad was arrested in Mumbai after Modi’s deputy Amit Shah accused her in public of inventing evidence and encouraging Jafri to give false statement.

R. B. Sreekumar, a former director-general of the Gujarat Police, was also detained on June 26 after testifying that law enforcement had participated in the pogrom. The First Information Report (FIR) against Sreekumar also listed the name of former Indian Police Service officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is currently serving a life term on additional false accusations. The true offence committed by Bhatt, said the release, was exposing Modi’s involvement in the Gujarat pogrom.

Recall that in 2005, the George W. Bush Administration refused Modi a US visa by classifying him as an Individual of Particular Concern, punishing him for his involvement in the anti-Muslim riot.

Zubair’s detention represents a violation of both press freedom and the public’s right to know the truth. Hindu nationalists affiliated with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its fascist paramilitary ideological father, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have been spreading incorrect information. Zubair, a co-founder of the fact-checking website Alt News, has been instrumental in dispelling these lies (RSS).

The Indian government has detained Setalvad, Sreekumar, Bhatt, and Zubair in an effort to quiet them, as it has done with other activists detained in the past, including Anand Teltumbde, Javed Mohammed, Parveen Fatima, and Umar Khalid, the release said.

Those who signed the statement include:

  1. Indian American Muslim Council, USA
  2. India Civil Watch International, USA
  3. Hindus for Human Rights, USA
  4. Dalit Solidarity Forum, USA
  5. Ambedkar King Study Circle, USA
  6. Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, USA
  7. Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians (AAPI), New Zealand
  8. Boston South Asian Coalition, USA
  9. Coalition Against Fascism in India, USA
  10. CERAS (Centre sur l’Asie du sud / South Asia Center), Canada
  11. Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Aotearoa New Zealand
  12. The Humanism Project, Australia
  13. International Council of Indian Muslims, Worldwide
  14. India Justice Project, Berlin, Germany
  15. India Solidarity Germany, Germany
  16. Indian Solidarity Finland, Finland
  17. International Solidarity For Academic Freedom, Worldwide
  18. International Society for Peace and Justice, USA
  19. Scottish Indians for Justice, United Kingdom
  20. South Asian Diaspora Action Collective, Canada
  21. South Asia Solidarity Group, UK
  22. Justice for All, Canada
  23. Coalition of Seattle Indian Americans (CSIA), USA
  24. Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI), USA
  25. Community Rights Council of Piscataway, USA
  26. People Against Apartheid and Fascism, South Africa

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