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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

BJP: Setalvad, Zubair arrests’ critics part of poisonous ecosystem

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia accused the Congress of supporting and opposing judicial actions as per its convenience, and asked if the Opposition party has faith in the judiciary.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: June 29, 2022 8:33:11 am
BJP: Setalvad, Zubair arrests’ critics part of poisonous ecosystemZubair's arrest came days after the Gujarat authorities arrested Teesta Setalvad on charges of "criminal conspiracy, forgery and placing false evidence in court to frame innocent people" in the 2002 Gujarat riots. (File photo: Indian Express/ Representational )

With Opposition leaders criticising the BJP over the arrests in separate cases of activist Teesta Setalvad and AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair, the ruling party hit back on Tuesday and accused the leaders of working as part of a “poisonous ecosystem” in which one offender protects another who has been caught.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia accused the Congress of supporting and opposing judicial actions as per its convenience, and asked if the Opposition party has faith in the judiciary.

Bhatia said if the protests over Zubair’s arrest are linked with similar criticism of action against Setalvad, “then it is clear that there is a poisonous ecosystem”. “The world’s strongest judicial system exists in the country, and it will do its work,” he said.

Bhatia said the Gujarat Police’s move to arrest Setalvad followed strong remarks from the Supreme Court for “keeping the pot boiling” over the 2002 riots and levelling false charges against leaders and bureaucrats. Bhatia alleged that Setalvad had been acting at the behest of the Congress to end the political career of Narendra Modi, who was then the state’s chief minister.

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“Setalvad was a small branch for fanning communal hate. But its main headquarters was in the Congress, and its president Sonia Gandhi was the CEO,” he said.

Bhatia also questioned the recent protests by Congress leaders against Rahul Gandhi being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate in the National Herald case. “For them, Rahul Gandhi is innocent until proven guilty. But their standard of judgement for Narendra Modi is that he is guilty even if proven innocent. This hypocrisy will not be tolerated,” he said.

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According to Bhatia, the law started taking its course in the last eight years and “everyone is treated equally”.

Attacking Setalvad, Bhatia said she collected donations “in the name of fighting for justice” for riot victims but was interested “only in damaging Modi’s image”. He alleged several irregularities in funds collected by Setalvad’s NGO, which is facing a probe for alleged violation of FCRA guidelines.

While the press conference was on the protests over the arrest of Setalvad, Bhatia also responded to questions about Zubair’s arrest and said “one cannot become a fact-checker only by proclaiming himself to be one”.

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He described Zubair’s past as “chequered” and accused him of posting tweets that have “hurt the religious feelings of a large section of Hindu society”.

Criticising Zubair, Bhatia said that “if somebody is doing a fact-check, then he can’t be selective”. “If he posts content which suits some political party or a community, then he is not objective,” he claimed.

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First published on: 29-06-2022 at 03:09:57 am
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