29 November, 2008

Teesta Setalvad: the Champion of anti-Nation and anti-Hindu NGO industry in India

Sanjay Kumar

In the past, I have raised many vital questions pertaining to our will to fight terrorism and the feedback I got has given me impetus to highlight few aspects further in detail. One of them is the role of some intellectuals, social activists, self appointed champions of human rights and secularists. Many ‘famed’ people come in this category but the names like Shabana Azmi, Arudhati Roy, Teesta Setalvad etc. are making ripples not only in India but in abroad also with their antics.

Firstly, let’s examine the role of Ms. Teesta Setalvad lauded as a social activist, championing cause of human rights and civil rights, educationist, secularist, journalist, and so on.

Recently she was in international news when she was invited by the Indian Muslim Council (Coalition Against Genocide), USA for a lecture tour in USA where she spew out venom against India. It is worth mentioning here that when NRI’s were gaining considerable social status after Pokhran two, this organization was formed with a view to overshadow the rise of nationalism and it rewards mostly anti-Hindus and pseudo secular Hindus. From the platform of the same organisation, Ms Setalvad and other ‘social activists’ urged U.S and international community for imposing sanctions against India.

Equipped with ample funds, holding flag of pseudo secularism she goes on maligning India by projecting a dismal picture sometimes in the name of minorities, or in names of human rights and civil justice.

Although she is writing and speaking since 1983 she came in the news particularly after Gujarat riots when she became a self appointed saviour of minority rights and issues.

But her well publicized self appointed role took a beating when one of the prime witnesses of the Best Bakery case, Zaheera Sheikh accused Ms. Setalvad and her colleague Raes Khan for pressuring her to identify innocent people as accused in the Best bakery case. Zaheera said, "I was shifted to Mumbai from Baroda under threat. Raees Khan and his goons, pointing a knife at me, had forced us to leave the city after the Baroda court's verdict last year. Teesta kept all my family members at different places and did not allow us to meet one another. She also tortured me.... Raees Khan and his goons took us all away forcefully, telling us, 'Chup rehna, yeh kaum ki baat hai', and transported us to Mumbai. I was kept at the residence of Teesta for about a month. I was locked in a room and was not allowed to meet anyone. My signatures were obtained on some papers typed in English that I couldn't understand.

I was told that those were the documents pertaining to the Best Bakery property in Baroda.... They told me, 'Kaum ka savaal hai, jhooth to bolna padega, aur jab case phir se chalega tab hum bolenge waise zoobani deni padegi'. "I pleaded with them to relieve me as I did not want to get into these affairs and did not want to give false statements against innocent people framed in the case. What I had stated in the Baroda court was the truth."

Truly, Zaheera episode raises questions about the very authority of Teesta Setalvad as an activist.

Take another case of Samir Khan who was killed by the Ahmedabad Crime branch in an encounter. His father, Sarfaraz Khan wrote a letter to activists and NGO’s including Teesta Setalvad and her advocate Sohel Tirmizi wherein he asked them not to interfere in his son’s case as he was pursuing the case ever since his son’s death. Setalvad had lodged a private complaint with the Ahmedabad metropolitan court, seeking CBI probe into the alleged encounter of Samir Khan Pathan. The complaint was lodged in the name of Samista Khan, Pathan’s cousin. Activist Shabnam Hashmi and Javed Akhtar had also moved a petition in the Supreme Court, contending that Pathan was killed in a fake encounter.

Also, Sarfaraz Khan stated in his letter that his consent had not been obtained before the petition was moved in the Supreme Court by Hashmi and Akhtar. He also said he had not been consulted before Ms.Setalvad registered the complaint. He further added that he did not agree with the petition or the complaint as there was no document or proof with either party. He requested the activists not to file any petition or complaint in the case. If they did, he would have to take action against them. What does this over-zealousness to move court in cases where minority community is involved indicate?

As if that was not enough, on another occasion, Ms.Arundhati Roy had to court embarrassment when in an article in Outlook about Gujarat riots she wrote, "The mob broke into the house (of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafari). They stripped his daughters and burned them alive." Just a week after T A Jafari, son of Ehsan Jafari, told the Asian Age, May 02, 2002 Delhi edition, "Among my brothers and sisters, I am the only one living in India. And I am the eldest in the family. My sister and brother live in the US."

This is the height of duplicity of these so called social activists.

Not to mention of the pressure tactics used by Ms Teesta Setalvad to disrepute judicial procedure. She wrote an article in a Kerala newspaper that the judiciary and Supreme Court are unduly delaying the Godhra and Gujarat cases. Supreme Court lashed out at her and said it was shameful and ‘not in good taste’ the attempts of some social activists, particularly Ms Teesta Setalvad, to blame it for the delay in hearing the Gujarat riots cases in which her NGO was one of the parties.

Even so, the bench comprising the CJI (Chief Justice of India) queried, who is this Teesta Setalvad? Is she a spokesperson of these persons or petitioners?”, "There is one article that appeared (written by her). If she is representing these persons (Godhra accused) we do not want to hear them," the bench said. The Chief Justice was particularly disconcerted over allegations that hearing on post-Godhra cases were fixed in such a way that it gets adjourned.

Funnily enough, Ms. Setalvad speaks against the country, Judiciary, and writes heavily biased against a particular community, but strangely enough instead of any checks on her she is bestowed with awards. Ironically, Teesta Setalvad won the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award 2003 and in 2007 she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India and has received many other awards including the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavna Award 2002. Interestingly Communalism Combat, her publication cum organization which she runs with her husband Javed Anand, is a private limited company and it has been bestowed awards. So much so in the last national elections crores of rupees were expended in media publicity campaigns defaming a particular community and political party, is it the job of an activist? Communalism Combat has acquired a status of a big business. And for the reasons best known to it, our political establishment is bringing forth such people on the top who are insincere towards national issues, national interest, unaware of strategic and international situation.

The vital question that emerges amongst all this is who is behind her? Where do the funds come from? Very rightly a noted columnist, Indian Express Tavleen Singh’s has pointed out in her recent article: “In the vanguard of those fighting Hindu fundamentalism was Teesta Setalvad’s magazine, Communalism Combat. It won awards, went from strength to strength, received laurel upon laurel until, recently, when Teesta’s protégé Zaheera Sheikh condemned her for exploiting her for money. “She further adds that “This is not about Communalism Combat or the fight between Zaheera and Teesta. What it is about is the number of magazines and NGOs that have thrived on maligning India for being a country as fundamentalist as our Islamic neighbours. Is it not time to ask where their funds come from?”

Likewise, will her perpetual pro-Muslim, pro-minorities stance help in fighting terrorism or is it just a façade to show the nation how truly "secular" a Hindu she is? Upon being asked in a panel discussion, as to what does she think of the problem of educated muslim youth getting into terrorism she sounded evasive. Instead of coming forward and debating on grave concerns like terrorism rationally, Ms Setalvad in her address during the 15th anniversary day of a monthly periodical 'Satyagrah' called for a ban on certain Hindu organizations and certain Brahmin organizations and said this would keep India away from international terrorism.

If this is her definition of terrorism then she needs help.

Once again, in the debates on terrorism she always says that Mumbai blast is the result of Gujarat riots and adds that terrorism increased after demolition of the disputed site in Ayoodhya. Is it the sign of a true secularist that she proclaims herself to be? On the contrary a true secularist has faith and respect for all religions. Is it true secular spirit when she defames one community to bring up the case of another? Why she has never spoken on the reasons of militancy in Kashmir, plight of 5 lakh Hindus from the valley and the reasons of insurgency in North East. Never ever has she uttered a word on the relation between Christian missionaries and naxalism, are these not vital issues?

The book titled NGOs, ACTIVISTS AND FOREIGN FUNDS ANTI-NATION INDUSTRY edited by Radha Rajan and Krishen Kak very aptly points out – “The great and global managers in the anti-nation and anti-Hindu NGO industry in India like Teesta Setalvad, Praful Bidwai, Achin Vanaik, Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy, Nirmala Deshpande, Angana Chatterji, Akhila Raman, Sandeep Pandey, Raju Rajagopal and Harsh Mandar are all self-appointed guardians of an undefined civil society that has been allowed in India to determine, define and decide what ought to be our national goals 'political, economic, moral, ethical and practical' and to proclaim with authority from the housetop what other immediate knock-down priorities of our society and our nation should be ignored and discarded with vibrant secular contempt in the larger NGOs' interest of de-nationalising the Indians and de-Hinduising the nation. The might of the UPA Government and the Congress Party is placed at the feet of these global personalities and the mighty NGOs they represent for achieving their undeclared objectives of selling five prime products in India? Terrorist Islam, Compassionate Christianity, Menacing Marxism, Noxious Nehruvian Secularism and Serpentine Soniaism.”

On one hand Ms Setalvad proclaims herself to be an educationist, on the other hand time and again she speaks about the educational backwardness among Muslims and very vociferously demands to implement the controversial Sachar Committee report. What kind of educationist is she? That she is only worried about education of a section of Indian society?

Incidentally, she had also prepared a handbook for a school which mentioned that Shivaji was a Shudra… which may be true but here it is important to highlight the ulterior reasons behind doing so. Hence it is worth quoting from the book NGOs, ACTIVISTS AND FOREIGN FUNDS ANTI-NATION INDUSTRY which highlights how “The main aim of the NGO’s activism is to prise apart important segments of Hindu society like women, tribals and so called Dalits from their family, community and culture, religious and national moorings. The ultimate intent of their activism is to damage the Hindu social fibre and weaken social cohesion by de-Hinduising large segments of Hindu society.”

Furthermore it is pitiable that how out of trivia she finds grounds to build a malice campaign against India and depict a gloomy picture of our society. This further illustrates that the intellectual honesty of our so called intellectuals is so abysmally low. All they do is go round and round mouthing same rhetoric and arriving upon same diagnosis time and again.

It is time to behave in responsible manner and hold accountable people like Teesta Setalvad who in name of social responsibility indulge in selective projections of the issues thus misleading people and creating a fear psychosis.

Also Visit: Evidence Against Teesta Setalvad