26 May, 2011

Teesta Setalvad 's ex-associate Rais Khan writes open letter to Justice P.B. Sawant

Above: Sonia Gandhi presenting the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavana award to Teesta Setalvad

Ahmedabad, 25th May, 2011

Rais Khan Pathan, former associate of Teesta (Javed) Setalvad and an accused in the Pandarwada mass grave exhumation case, criticized Justice P.B. Sawant for favoring Teesta and heading “Committee for Defense of Teesta Setalvad & Justice in Gujarat.” The committee was formed on 23rd May 2011 in Mumbai by Sawant, Desai and former Gujarat Chief Minister Suresh Mehta. The very interesting note of Pathan sent to Mr. Sawant is presented below.

Dear Mr Justice PB Sawant,

I am deeply distressed to write this Open Letter to you as I would be calling into question certain facts to a Judge who was once part of the Supreme Court of India and who has the rare distinction of practiced all branches of law.

I, as an ordinary social worker, am truly perturbed that you addressed a press conference on 23rd May 2011 at Mumbai after forming a dubious body “Committee for defense of Teesta Setalvad & justice in Gujarat” in support of Teesta who has often been seen to be toying with the majesty of law and was pulled up by the Supreme Court itself for taking her grievances in the ongoing Godhra riot cases to an international human rights agency at a time when the apex court itself was monitoring the progress of the investigations. She has been repeatedly stepping on the toes of the law unmindful of the consequences & cheating her own people for her selfish gains.

In the past you had been closely associated with Medha Patkar, a social activist of dubious character who has been finally unmasked when the SC reprimanded her for filing false affidavits and misleading the court. The apex court even cautioned all courts across the country not to be swayed and be careful when entertaining her (medha) petitions.

You have participated in seminars and discussions in favor of naxal sympathizer Binayak Sen who was convicted on the charges of sedition and recently granted bail by the SC.

Is this habit of yours (that you always side with the wrong people), has now forced you to support Teesta?

You will recall that you visited Ahmedabad in April 2002 along with Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer & Justice H Suresh & K.G. Kannabirayan , President PUCL etcc… & stayed in Karnavati club for conducting an inquiry of Gujarat riots under the banner of Concerned Citizens Tribunal. During your stay in the club, I met you on number of occasions as I was the Chief Co-Ordinator for bringing all the victims and witnesses from various part of the state to Ahmedabad for deposition before you. I still remember that before victims and witnesses were sent to depose before your panel, they were tutored by Teesta Setalvad and Sohel Tirmizi in an another room of the club. I am an eye-witness of that proceedings.

My questions to you are not frivolous in the least nor do I intend it to be so. Permit me to refresh your memory on cases filed against Teesta Setalvad by her own people. These cases have become legion and if you go through patiently you will realize how serious the charges are for an honest appraisal. Few examples are given below:

1) Yasmeen Banu Sheikh: A prime prosecution witness in Best Bakery Case in her affidavit dtd 17/06/2010 to the Chief Justice Mumbai H.C. accused Teesta Setalvad for forcing her to lie in the Trial court at Mumbai & stated “ Teesta setalvad made me to give false testimony in the Best Bakery case by luring & misguiding me”. She narrated how after her deposition she was thrown out from the house where she was kept for 11 months. When Mumbai H.C. had not taken any cognizance on her affidavit, she filed a writ petition in the Mumbai H.C. to re-examine her in the interest of justice

2) Qutubudin Nasiruddin Ansari whose photographs with folded hand became face of Gujarat riots, in a letter to the Collector Ahmedabad on 7th July 2009 stated that he was sent to Ahmedabad by an NGO (obviously by Teesta’s CJP) and later to Malegaon but came back to Ahmedabad because now everything is normal in Gujarat and now he is happily settled here. This person was too was cheated by her.

3) Madina Banu: A witness of Naroda Gam case during her deposition in August’ 2010 before the SIT as well as in the court of Additional Session Judge disowned parts of her affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court saying she was not raped though she spoke of being raped by the mob in her affidavit to the S.C on the prodding of Teesta.

4) Zahira Habibulah Sheikh: A star witness of Best Bakery case filed a criminal complaint against Teesta Setalvad that she was forced by Teesta to give false deposition. She was kept confined illegally in 2003 and Zahira has not only accused Teesta but also her other associates in Baroda

5) Nanumiya Rasulmiya Malik: A witness of Naroda gam case no. 203/2009 during deposition in August’ 2010 before SIT as well as before Additional Session Judge disowned certain parts of his affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court through the CJP of Setalvad. Nanumiya denied seeing any rape or murder on 28th Febuary’ 2002 which was mentioned in his affidavit in S.C.

6) Imran Pathan: A witness of Naroda gam case too disowned certain parts of his affidavit denying seeing any rape or murder though in his affidavit to the SC had vouched for mass murder & rape in Naroda gam area.

7) Rafiq Malik: A witness of Naroda gam case during his deposition in September ‘2010 retracted like above mentioned witnesses saying he did not see any rape or murder on 28th Febuary’ 2002 though his affidavit said it differently.

8) Zahid Kadri: An educated Muslim leader, of Ahmedabad in his affidavit dtd 28/05/2010 to the Chief Justice of India, blamed Teesta Setalvad for using him for her selfish games in the name of helping him in getting justice for his son, who was killed in the police firing during the 2002 riots. Mr. Kadri in his affidavit has blamed Teesta for misguiding poor Muslims in the name of religion & collecting money in the name of helping riot victims.

9) Pandarwada Case:

a) On 27th December 2005, on the instructions of Teesta Setalvad, I along with others dug-up the graves near Panam river closed to Pandarwada without permission. An FIR was filed against me & others. Though everything was done on her instructions she never supported us. I alongwith Gulam kadri, sikander Abbas were arrested and send to jail for no fault of ours. Out of 9 accused persons, 5 persons namely myself, Gulam kharadi, Sikander Abbas, Kutub shah Diwan, Jabir Mohammed recorded statement U/s 164 of CrPC before the magistrate & narrated the true story of how we were forced to do this act by Teesta Setalvad. The Pandarwada police has already filed the first charge-sheet against us. Teesta managed anticipatory bail for herself but never bothered for us.

b) Rahul Singh a Senior Journalist working with Headlines Today, New Delhi is one of the witnesses of this case who reported the story, at that time. Mr. Singh who is an independent witness in this case in his affidavit dtd 18/02/2011 to the I.O. Lunawada categorically mentioned that “I met Raiskhan & others, spoke to Teesta & visited Pandarwada as a part of my journalist duty, however at no point of time during my interaction with Rasikhan & telephonic conversations with Teesta Setalvad, I was ever told by them that they have not taken permission from the authorities to exhume the bodies & that they knew that the body so buried by the police near Panam river at the outskirts of Lunawada town, were buried with proper procedure”. Mr. Singh also stated that “he has not given any interview to any magazine/newspapers on the subject & whatever has been published in my name was without my knowledge & concurrence”. Teesta planted stories in various newspapers in his name.

Details of my cases against Teesta:

• I Filed a complaint against Teesta on 09/09/2010 to the commissioner of police, Ahmedabad accusing her of hacking of my e-mail account.

• I Filed an application on 30/11/2010 U/s 311 of CrPC 1973, in the court of Additional Session Judge, Mehsana in the Sardarpura Massacre case no. 275/2002 for examining me as a court/prosecution witness because all affidavits dated 06/11/2003 of witnesses namely Ibrahim miya rasool miya sheikh, Nazair mohammed sheikh, Hizbul miya sheikh, Ashiq hussain sheikh, Mohammed Sattar sheikh etc…were prepared by Teesta Setalvad & sent to me in my e-mail account for notarization from these witnesses. Contents of the affidavits were in English & were not known to these witnesses.

• I Filed an application on 28/10/2010 U/s 311 of CrPC 1973 in the court of Additional Session Judge, Ahmedabad in the Naroda Gam case no. 203/2009 for examining me as a court/prosecution witness because main witnesses of the case namely Nanumiya Rasulmiya Malik, Madina Banu & Imran Pathan distracted from their original affidavit filed in the S.C. through Teesta Setalvad & claimed that various contents of the affidavit are false & were inserted by me without their knowledge.

• I Filed an application on 01/11/2010 U/s 311 of CrPC 1973 in the court of Additional Session Judge, Ahmedabad in the Gulbarg Society case no. 152/2002 for examining me as a court/prosecution witness because Zakia Jafri, widow of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri lied before the court that she has not taken any help from Teesta Setalvad. The court on 3rd November’ 2010 ordered SIT to record my statement. Imtiyaz Khan Pathan a closed associate of Teesta Setalvad filed an SLP no. 7046 of 2010 in the S.C. for stay of order. I filed the intervention application in this case. Fearing that S.C. may pass adverse order, she decided to withdraw the application.

• Justice Nanavati Shah Commision – I filed an affidavit in the Justice Nanavati Shah Commision on 19/10/2010 with a prayer to take appropriate action against Teesta Setalvad who has mislead various courts & forced innocent victims & witnesses to file false affidavits which can lead to prosecution of innocent persons in the on going trials in various courts on the basis of false & fabricated affidavits prepared by Teesta with ulterior motive.

Despite all the above stated facts if you still stand by Teesta Setalvad, the bigger question that one would like to ask you is, if there is an axe to grind in all of this, when universally, after retirement a judge is expected to maintain his decorum and should not hobnob with convicts & dubious characters.

This question is really disturbing me as to how can a learned judge like you, support a person who cheats her own people and her agenda is to earn name, fame and money on the bodies of riot victims?

I am sure you would like to give an honest answer to me.

Rais Khan Pathan
D/A-28, Ajit Residency


Also View: Evidence Against Teesta Setalvad

19 May, 2011

Aurangzeb was like Shakespeare: William Dalrymple

Above: William Dalrymple

The uncalled for fascination with Aurangzeb

Francois Gautier

We all admire William Dalrymple for his writing style, knowledge of India and for making Delhi his home. Yet, his fascination for the Mughals, which already made him write the ‘The Last Mughal’ and ‘White Mughals’, is bizarre, to say the least, as the Mughals were the biggest perpetrators of human rights abuses of their time, not only against Hindus and Sikhs, but even against their own kin.

It seems Dalrymple now wants to embark upon a new book about one of India’s most controversial historical figures, Aurangzeb, whom he considers “absolutely fascinating” and “very self aware, very Shakespearean”.

Speaking about the richest Mughal emperor who also had the second-longest reign after Akbar, Dalrymple says: “By the end of it, he does becomes a monster of myths, but his final letters are full of regret and awareness about how much he destroyed of what he had inherited.”

And he adds: “What is little spoken is that he was an extremely generous donor of various ashrams and maths. Just the sheer data that can be gathered about his donations to Hindu monasteries is extraordinary…”

Now is that true? Aurangzeb (1658-1707) was neither the eldest, nor the favourite son of his father Shah Jahan. To ascend the throne, he killed his two brothers, dispatched his father to jail, and subsequently murdered him by sending him poisoned massage oil. He later imprisoned his son (in his will, he admonished: “Never trust your sons”). He was also very cruel to the Hindus, ordering temples destroyed and making sure that the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses were buried under the steps of the mosques (like the Jama Masjid in Delhi) so that future generations of Muslims will trample upon them.

Aurangzeb built a number of mosques on destroyed temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, one of the most sacred places for Hindus. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach too suffered destruction with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares, and the Treta-ke-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in four, if not five, figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples; their users were also wiped out.

Muslims suffered as much as Hindus: 90% of today’s Indian Muslims should know that their forefathers were converted by force under Aurangzeb. Even his own brother, Dara Shukoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion.

The shadow of Aurangzeb still floats upon India: in Kashmir, where 4,00,000 Hindus were made to flee their homeland. India looks like sometimes it is forsaking its Sufi inheritance and letting Aurangzeb’s spirit take hold of it. What will happen once the army goes? Aurangzeb is not only present in Kashmir, his very name still triggers passion on both sides of the Hindu and the Muslim community. Yet, one has just to go through Aurangzeb’s own firmans (edicts), which are still preserved in the Bikaner archives, to know what kind of man he was.

One is also surprised that the Sikh community, particularly the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has kept quiet. Have they forgotten what Aurangzeb did to them?

Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions. Aurangzeb, who had never forgiven the Sikhs for having supported his brother Dara, persecuted the Sikhs viciously. In response, Guru Gobind Singh transformed the Sikh community into a military community. Many perceive Guru Gobind Singh as no a warlord with no religious credentials; yet, he was a powerful military general who transformed the Sikhs into a militaristic society.

The Sikh community should debate whether they want to make Aurangzeb a hero or remain close to the Hindus? Why do not the Sikhs in Delhi lobby so that Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi is renamed after one of their gurus?

Indian Muslims too have to make a crucial choice: do they want Aurangzeb’s inheritance to prevail upon Islam in India, or will they invoke Dara Shukoh’s spirit and bring the greatness of Sufism back into India?

As for Dalrymple, let him dwell upon his fantasies. Western Indology is still mired in its olds prejudices and cliches, which make Aurangzeb a hero and Guru Gobind Singh or Shivaji Maharaj mere petty chieftains.


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar visits Ajmer Sharif

Above: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar being welcomed at Dargah Ajmer Sharif