The controversy between the Centre and Teesta Setalvad has taken another turn where the CBI has registered a case against the civil rights activist for “illegally” accepting funds from foreign entities, without prior permission from the Government of India.
Setalvad has been in continuous conflict with the the Gujarat government and state authorities due to her leading role in the 2002 Gujarat riot victims’ on-going struggle for justice, wherein she has filed cases against the state government functionaries including the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, for his alleged role in the post-Godhra pogrom.
The state police in turn has booked the activist under various cases of embezzlement of funds. Setalvad and her husband have been booked by the Crime Branch of Gujarat Police on charges of cheating, breach of trust and under the IT Act, in a matter relating to the construction of “Museum of Resistance” in the Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, which was hit by communal riots in 2002.
The latest in this series of legal battles is a CBI probe ordered by the government which has named Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand, Gulam Mohammed Peshimam (founder of Citizens for Justice and Peace) and Sabrang Communications and Publishing for “illegally” receiving foreign aid.
The CBI is examining Sabrang’s documents including her bank account details. The government had earlier ordered a CBI probe into the transfer of funds by US-based Ford Foundation to Sabrang Communication and Publishing Pvt Limited (SCPPL).
The SCPPL, in accepting a donation of $2.9 lakh from Ford Foundation, without getting clearance of the Home Ministry, had allegedly violated the rules of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA). As per rules, registration under the FCRA is the compulsory criterion for any organization or firm to accept overseas donations.
Media reports suggest that the trio can be now interrogated by the federal agency. According to the CBI, the trio will have to face five years of imprisonment if found guilty.