Narendra Modi government has justified before the Supreme Court
its ongoing probe against social activist Teesta Setalvad in a
case of alleged illegal exhuming of bodies of 2002 Gujarat riot
victims, saying that she actually planned and executed digging of
graves without permission in 2006.
In an affidavit, the Gujarat government claimed that during the
investigations involving the accused, including her one time close
aide Rais Khan Pathan, and also an independent witness, it has
emerged that "Teesta Setalvad, the petitioner herein, was the main
accused who has actually planned and executed this operation of
digging of graves near Pandarwada through her staff."
The state government, responding to the notice issued by the apex
court which on July 29 stayed criminal proceedings against
Setalvad for her alleged role in the case, said other accused
persons have claimed innocence and blamed Setalvad for instigating
them to carry out the operation which attracts offence under penal
provision for entering into conspiracy for various offences.
"Exhumation of the dead bodies without prior permission of the
competent authorities constitutes an offence under Section 192
(fabricating false evidence), 193 (punishment for false evidence,
201 (causing disappearance of evidence), 120-B criminal
conspiracy), 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to
outrage religious feelings) and 297 (trespassing on burial places)
of IPC," it said.
It termed as totally "concocted, false and misleading" Setalvad's
claim that digging of graves was carried out after relatives of
deceased heard from the sweeper that there were some dead bodies
buried in the forest land and their close relatives have been
arraigned as accused.
The affidavit said, "Only unidentified and unclaimed bodies were
given to the Nagarpalika for burial that too after performing
necessary postmortem," and accused the social activist of
instigating "communal feeling" by digging out the bodies through
her office bearer by calling media and local people.
The matter is listed for hearing on November 24.
Setalvad had approached the apex court against the May 27 order of
the Gujarat High Court refusing to quash the First Information
Report (FIR) registered against her at a police station in
Panchmahal district of the state in connection with exhumation of
the bodies from a graveyard near river Panam in Gujarat.
It was alleged that in 2002, about 28 unidentified bodies of the
riot victims from Pandarwada and surrounding villages in Khanpur
taluka were buried in the graveyard.
Earlier, the high court had declining to scrap the FIR, had
quashed the summons issued to her terming her as absconding.
The high court had observed, in May 27 order, that by showing
Setalvad as an absconding accused in the charge sheet filed in
April, "a glaring mistake has been committed by the investigating
The Gujarat government said, "It is pertinent to note that this
incident of digging of graves was executed on December 27, 2005
and the very next day of the incident on December 28, a CBI team
reached Lunawada and took over the investigation as assured by
Setalvad to Khan".
"It is noteworthy that CBI takes over investigation only either on
the request from the State Government and/or on the orders from
the competent court, however, in this case neither there was any
request from the state nor any court order, still CBI team reached
Lunawada the very next day of incident.
This action of the petitioner (Setalvad) itself speaks volumes
about her clout, influence and meticulous planning," the affidavit
Gujarat government also questioned the conduct of Setalvad, who
after getting relief from the apex court on July 29 this year,
came to the office of the Investigation Officer at about 12 noon
"in a victory style procession" with 30-40 supporters and media
persons in the case.
Setalvad, who had been avoiding summons for probe, was given the
last opportunity to appear before the Investigating Officer.