Social activist Teesta Setalvad, accused of embezzling funds meant for victims of the Gulberg Housing Society, today rebutted the charges made by Gujarat Police that she and her husband had misappropriated the funds for personal expenses.
The statement by Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand, who are trustees of the two NGOs in question, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust, issued here said the funds raised for the construction of a memorial at Gulberg Society massacre site were still lying unutilised.
“Since we, Sabrang Trust only managed to raise Rs 4.6 lakh, we had to inform the Society (members of Gulberg society) that the Memorial project was not feasible,” the statement said.
“No contract was ever signed, no property or deed ever changed hands, no rent was promised nor monies changed hands. The Rs 4.6 lakh donated by individuals (all Indians, including one NRI) are still unutilised,” it claimed.
The statement was issued by Setalvad after Gujarat police filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court.
Opposing the the anticipatory bail plea of Setalvad in the apext court, the state police had alleged that the duo had misappropriated funds that was meant for building a museum at Gulberg Society massacre site, for personal expenses ranging from wine, ear-buds to expensive mobile phone.
In the affidavit, the police had said that Setalvad and Anand as trustees of the two trusts — Sabrang Trust and Citizen for Justice and Peace (CJP) — have by “diverse methods” allegedly “misappropriated funds of charity and converted to their own use funds ment for rehabilitation of riot victims”.
Refuting the allegations, the activist today said CJP raised money for providing legal aid to victims and its record in this respect is “unprecedented” in India.
“Witness protection and probity during the trial despite hostile regimes have ensured the convictions of 120 persons,” their statement said.
“All payments to Teesta or Javed were strictly in accordance with the budgets proposed to and accepted by Ford Foundation, UNVFVT (United Nations Voluntarily Fund for
Victims of Torture), CRY,” the statement said on Gujarat Police’s claims that salaries of Setalvad and her husband started increasing exponentially every year.
The Gujarat Police had alleged that 45 per cent of total funds received by Sabrang Trust between 2008 and 2013 have gone to Setalvad and her husband either directly or through Sabrang Communication Pvt Ltd (SCPPL), which was fully owned by them.
Refuting the charge, the statement said, “All payments by CJP and ST (Sabrang Trust) towards reimbursements for shared expenses were as per resolutions passed from time to time by their respective trustees.”
“Teesta and Javed recused themselves from the decisions taken in all such instances,” the statement added.
“Sabrang Communication made no profit from the expenses sharing arrangement and Teesta and Javed were not paid even a rupee out of such reimbursements,” it claimed.
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