Why is so vociferous Teesta Setalvad so silent?
Silence is not gold; it conveys everything
By Amba Vasishth
This is what the Indian Express reported on December 17, 2008.
SC affidavit wrong, didn’t know what we signed: riot victim
AYESHA KHAN & VIKRAM RAUTELA
December 16, 2008
Nanu Miyan disowns own affidavit, says it was CJP’s doing, Setalvad says no comment
I N HER new home in a narrow bylane of Ahmedabad, Madina Pathan (25) has no idea she has kicked up a storm with her deposition before the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the 2002 Gujarat riot cases.
While an affidavit in the Supreme Court stated that Madina, then a young bride, was raped and stabbed by rioters at her late husband’s house in Naroda Gam, she has told the SIT she was stabbed but never raped. She said she had no idea what was written in that affidavit since it was in English which she could neither read, write or understand.
“In those days, some people used to come and question me. There used to be a Nanu Miyan, I would go to him with the other victims,” Madina told The Indian Express. Nanu Miyan Malek, a Naroda Gam survivor on whose affidavit the Supreme Court appointed the SIT to probe some of the riot cases, says Madina is not lying. “Madina was stabbed in the stomach but no one raped her. She stayed with us in a relief camp for nearly six months,” Malek said.
Malek said the affidavit was “fabricated” and had “incorrect” information. He alleged it was drafted in English without his knowledge by Rais Khan, coordinator of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), who made him sign on the affidavit. “I had mentioned this in my statement to the SIT too,” he said.
But Rais Khan claims it was CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad who sent him affidavits for signatures. “Teesta Setalvad used to send me these affidavits through e-mail. I used to take printouts and get them signed after calling the persons concerned to Shahpur. All these affidavits were drafted by Setalvad along with some legal experts,” Khan said. When contacted, Setalvad declined comment. According to Malek’s eight-page affidavit, Madina, then the newly married daughter-in-law of his neighbour, was attacked and raped by a Hindu rioter. The affidavit was appended to a petition which the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and CJP had jointly moved before the Supreme Court in 2003, seeking a CBI inquiry into the riot cases on the grounds that the Gujarat police was trying to scuttle investigations into these cases.
Madina’s husband, mother-in-law and two brothers-in-law were killed in the attack. She later married one Rafik who now works in Saudi Arabia.
She has a three-year-old daughter.
Madina deposed before the SIT on May 20 this year, stating she was never raped. “Jab Gandhinagar ke bade saab ne poochha tab mujhe pata pada ki pehle court mein aisa likha hai. Mera to kabhi balatkar nahin hua tha (I realised that this was written in the court paper only after the official in Gandhinagar (SIT) asked me. I was never raped).” She says she received Rs five lakh in compensation which she deposited in a bank. In her statement to the SIT, she said she never identified any of the attackers, neither had she said so in any statement anywhere.
The veteran protector of human rights and champion of the oppressed and the aggrieved, Teesta Setalvad, has chosen to be silent: "No comment". Why no comment? Why is the veteran jurist trying to mark time to tell the truth? Truth has not to be invented; it has not to be prompted; it is spontaneous, there and then. One doesn't need time to tell the truth. The truth is in the mind and heart. Why seek time to bare one's heart?
What does it all mean? Her silence is not gold. It is as black as the kettle. The silence conveys a vociferous message, as vociferous as she is in her writings and statements.
Is it not the time that there is an independent and impartial inquiry into the working of the so-called human rights organisations which are receiving funds from foreign countries to help and aid the criminals, anti-socials and anti-national elements in the guise of protecting their human rights?
Do the common, innocent citizens who are killed by these anti-social, anti-national and terrorist elements have no human rights? What have these 'human rights' organisations done to promote and protect the human rights of these innocent victims? They have helped the criminals but they have never helped the innocent victims. If they have, I challenge them to make it public.
Let the nation ponder and decide. **