A 12-member team of the CBI carried out raids Tuesday at the Mumbai home and office of activist Teesta Setalvad in connection with allegations of illegally accepting foreign funds.
The agency, which raided three locations, is probing allegations of embezzlement against Setalvad; her husband Javed Anand; businessman Gulam Mohammed Peshimam; and Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd. On July 7, the CBI had registered a case against Setalvad for allegedly receiving funds from foreign entities without taking permission from the Central government.
The case was registered under sections of the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA) and the Indian Penal Code.
“The (CBI action) is shameful political vendetta,” said Setalvad who has been a prime mover in many cases against authorities in Gujarat linked to the 2002 riots.
Referring to these cases today, she said in a statement: “The Zakia Jafri case begins its final hearings on July 27. The Naroda Patiya appeals (Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi) are being heard in the Gujarat High Court tomorrow. This is nothing but a bid to subvert the cause of public justice and ensure that no justice happens in these cases.”
Sources in the agency said similar raids would be conducted in Gujarat and Delhi and added that the activist and her husband are likely to be questioned.
The probe by the Home Ministry came after the Gujarat government sent a letter detailing alleged irregularities by NGOs run by Setalvad. Sources said the two NGOs under scrutiny for allegedly receiving foreign funds are the Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace, both run by Teesta and her husband.
“We had written to the CBI offering full cooperation. The so-called offences relate to documentary evidence. This search is nothing but an attempt to intimidate and humiliate. India should be ashamed that when scams like Vyapam are happening, over 50 persons dying, witnesses in Asaram Bapu case are dying, CBI is not appealing in critical cases related to crimes by politicians. The agency is being unleashed on human rights defenders standing up for the rights of survivors of mass violence. It is worse than the British Raj. Pathetic,” Setalvad said.
CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said the searches were being conducted after following due process. It was alleged that Sabrang violated FCRA by accepting a donation of $2.9 lakh from US-based Ford Foundation without getting clearance from the Home Ministry. The state police have also accused Setalvad of embezzling funds meant for a memorial for the riot victims. She has denied these allegations.