Teesta Setalvad is a civil rights activist and journalist based in Mumbai who is popularly known for taking up the cause of the 2002 Gujrat riots victims. She serves as the secretary of Citizens for Justice and Peace, an NGO formed in the aftermath of the 2002 riots to support the victims. She was awarded Padma Shri in 2007. Teesta Setalvad was detained for her human rights work supporting minority religious communities.
On June 25, 2022, an anti-terrorism squad in Mumbai arrested Setalvad for seeking prosecution of senior government officials complicit in the violence. Authorities accused Setalvad of forging evidence against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat during the 2002 riots. Setalvad’s prosecution came a day after the Supreme Court dismissed a petition by her challenging a report by a special investigative team that absolved Modi of involvement in the riots. The Supreme Court (SC) on 19 July 2023 granted regular bail to her in the case of alleged fabrication of evidence in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
This interview assesses the historical background of the challenges facing Indian democracy. She explains how the Sangh Parivar forces manufactured the Gujarat riots and the conflicts in Manipur exploring communal parameters. She critically analyses how the mainstream media reported both events in two different ways. She also weighed in on her own experiences of the discrimination she witnessed in the Sabarmathi prison and the hierarchical power system that prevails in Indian society.
She also explains how to deal with the politics of division and hate imposed by the authoritarian proto-fascist regime. She says that the RSS is a greater threat than any powerful individual part of the Sangh Parivar.
A.K Shiburaj is an independent journnalist
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