Eminent rights activist and crusader for the Gujarat riot victims Teesta Setalvad responds to the bile spread by an electronic channel that claims for itself the label of ‘independent journalism’. Specifically the ‘The News Hour’ Farce of Times Now on Monday night.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll of us at Sabrang Trust and I personally would like to emphatically refute the bilious allegations that we believe are being spun or flung from the very highest echelons of the government at me/us. We also find it pitiable that journalists and channels are playing the role of echo masters of the regime.
The work that the KHOJ project has been involved in, since the 1990s, deals with the crucial issues of incorporating the Indian constitutional vision into the school curriculum and through teacher training manuals and workshops. The work that was possible through the grant from the MHRD between 2010-2014 was but an extension of the dedicated work being undertaken by the KHOJ team, with eminent historians, for close to three decades. To label our work as ‘hate mongering’ is pathetic, given especially that senior and prominent persons in this government, cabinet and also Members of Parliament have used hate speech and hate writing as tools to divide the Indian population while occupying prominent positions in government and Parliament since 2014.
At the outset, we would like to state that we express our serious concern over being asked to respond to allegations against Sabrang Trust/Teesta Setalvad supposedly based on a report prepared by an MHRD panel which we have yet to see (The Bari Committee Report).
We question the professional ethics of a section of the media which expects responses from us to the report’s alleged findings but is unwilling to share the full report with us.
And listen (audio): The Navika Kumar, Timesnow (Times of India) reporter & Nira Radia Tape below::
In October 2016 another news channel, NewsX indulged in a similar exercise, today it is Times Now. Both electronic channels had copies of the report which ironically is not available in the public domain.
Following intermittent and threatening media reports of the possibility of yet another false criminal complaint against me, this time instigated by senior echelons of the government, I, Teesta Setalvad had written to the Minister for Human Resources Development (MHRD) Mr Prakash Javdekar, on the issue (attached here is a scanned copy of the letter). Unfortunately even the newspapers that had carried ‘exclusives’ about the possibility of a criminal complaint did not see it fit to carry our request to the minister for a copy of the said report (see links of newspapers)
Email to Minister MHRD:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Teesta Setalvad<[email protected](link sends e-mail)>
Date: Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 12:28 PM
Subject: Communication (28.12.2016) to Hon Minister Prakash Javdekar from Teesta Setalvad
To: [email protected](link sends e-mail)
Good Morning. Attached is a letter for Hon MHRD Minister, Mr Prakash Javdekar which I would request is placed before him at the earliest.
The letter (scanned and attached) has been dispatched in the original by registered post and also faxed to the Ministry.
Activist, Journalist & Educationist
Response to False Charges
In response to the ‘charges’, the facts are as follows:
- A copy of the Trust Deed of Sabrang Trust was submitted to the MHRD Ministry while applying for the grant. The Trustees of Sabrang Trust continue to hold the view that the Trust’s aims and objects included educational activity and was therefore qualified to apply for the grant.
- An HRD Joint Evaluation team, comprising of an official each from the Centre and Maharashtra’s education department, evaluated the KHOJ project before the grant was sanctioned. Another similar Joint Evaluation Team (JET) reviewed the progress of the project mid-way through the grant in February 2012. The JET concluded among other things: “Overall, the objectives and efforts under the KHOJ project are undoubtedly laudable since not only do they cater to the need to promote secularism and peace education, which should be a priority, but also since there is hardly any effort otherwise in mainstream schools to address these aspects. How crucial it is to reach out to the children especially of the urban poor from the slum areas comes across very strongly in the anecdotes shared by KHOJ teachers with the JET…”
- It may also be noted that the KHOJ-Education for a Plural India project was funded by MHRD under its “Scheme of Assistance under Innovative and Experimental Education Programmes — Grants to Voluntary agencies under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
- As to the allegation about the grant having been sanctioned despite objection from NCERT we are unable to comment on this as we are not privy to such communication, if any between MHRD and NCERT.
- As to allegation regarding “MATERIAL PUBLISHED BY TEESTA TRUST CONTAINS EXPLOSIVE LITERATURE WHICH REFLECTS HATRED AND VENOM” we vehemently deny her having produced any such material.
- In view of the above the question of “PRIMA FACIE CASE EXISTS UNDER SECTION 153 A, 153 B OF IPC AGAINST TEESTA SETELVAD” is nothing but a politically motivated charge.
This is close to a two-year old story. In March 2015, around the time that the bid of the Gujarat government to have us arrested failed (over yet another false criminal case where Javed Anand and I were both sought to be implicated), the overzealous Smriti Irani announced an MHRD probe against a project that Sabrang Trust had received for the KHOJ Education for Plural India programme. This project ran between 2010-2014 after receiving one extension. In typical proto-fascist style allegations have covered the infamous ‘misappropriation of funds’ to now spreading hatred. The charge of misappropriation obviously could not be proven and so it is now down to Teesta Setalvad ‘s views on the RSS and Murli Manohar Joshi according to the Indian Express!
What has also conveniently (and quietly) escaped public comment or notice that each and every false criminal complaint against me (Teesta Setalvad) after the Zakia Jafri case began to get traction (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015), were instigated by a former disgruntled employee of CJP, Raees Khan who has since been rewarded by the Modi regime with a position on the Central Wakf Board.
(In February 2016, in her inimitably inaccurate style the minister Irani even said that a Teacher’s Reader authored by Teesta Setalvad and used in 2001 should be put down to the MHRD project under Mr Kapil Sibal when in fact the MHRD project only began in 2010!)
In any case, the KHOJ rendering of Shivaji, Jyotiba Phule, Babasaheb Ambedkar is one that has been inspired by India’s best historians that have traced Shivaji’s non-Brahmanical origins especially the hostility Shivaji faced when he could not be coronated due to his birth into the peasant castes.
It seems apparent that with the Gujarat police having failed to substantiate its allegations of misappropriation of trust funds by Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand, despite our having submitted over 20,000 pages of documentary evidence, and with the Union Home Ministry having instigated a 22-hour raid on the office and residence of the above mentioned by the CBI, yet another ministry has been tasked with maligning Sabrang Trust and hounding Teesta Setalvad on bogus charges.
There have been three sets of vindictive actions emanating from Delhi since the Modi regime acquired power. Before that Teesta Setalvad faced vindictive criminal cases within the state of Gujarat. First is the false criminal case by the Gujarat Crime Branch; second is the vindictive hounding by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the subsequent revocation of the FCRA renewal after it was first granted to both CJP and Sabrang trusts), the third is the criminal prosecution by the CBI on false charges of violation of FCR Act by Sabrang Communications (few are ever prosecuted on what, even if true is a civil charge and it is not irrelevant that the CBI is directly under the PMO) and now this.
(The earlier false cases and harassment of Teesta Setalvad by the Gujarat Police also continue, especially related to the twitter case despite an immediate apology by her within forty minutes of the tweet).