By Mubasshir Mushtaq | Anadolu Agency
MUMBAI – Prominent Indians reacted angrily on Tuesday after a federal agency raided the house and office of an award-winning activist Teesta Setalvad.
A team of 16 officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the home and office of Setalvad for alleged “illegal” receipt of foreign aid without government permission.
Activists and social media reacted strongly to the raid, suggesting that Setalvad had been harassed for her opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his alleged links to inter-communal riots in his home state of Gujarat, which killed more than 2,000 people.
Setalvad, who publicly represents many of the Gujarat riot victims, was granted relief from arrest by the Supreme Court in February when it decided the charges did not warrant police custody.
“When leaders accused of instigating riots rule the country, those who fight for justice will be victimized. So obvious,” senior journalist Nikhil Wagle tweeted, saying the raid was a “political vendetta.”
“Raids on Teesta is a stern message for all the activists fighting for justice and taking on the system. Be in your limits or we will finish you,” Wagle said.
The CBI last week booked Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand and their NGO Sabrang Communications for allegedly not following foreign funding rules.
Setalvad said she was surprised by the CBI raid, since she had written to the agency ensuring she would cooperate with them.
“This is vendetta by the BJP. They are trying to humiliate us,” she told local channel NDTV, accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad told reporters the case against Setalvad was registered on the basis of complaints received from the government.
Former anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party leader and senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan slammed the raid and suggested the CBI was being controlled by the government.
“CBI raids Teesta but fails to file appeal against bogus discharge of [BJP President] Amit Shah in fake encounters. Obviously Modi govt misusing caged parrot,” Bhushan tweeted.
Professor Juzar Bandukwala, a survior of Gujarat 2002 riots, also strongly criticized the raid on Setalvad, saying that the government “is doing everything possible to make Teesta’s life miserable.”
“I condemn Teesta’s harassment by the Narendra Modi Government. No one has played a higher role in the cause of justice in Gujarat than Teesta. The price she has paid has been huge. We salute her. Modi has made a mockery of justice for the 2002 genocide in Gujarat,” Bandukwala told Anadolu Agency.
“Modi could never stomach a Gujarati Hindu lady, Teesta, from a very prominent family, fighting for the cause of justice. He has done everything possible to bring Teesta to her knees,” he said.