how come there is a thunderous silence on the part of the indian english language media in the wake of these dramatic accusations?
Probe Setalvad, Zahira urges Supreme Court
New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) Zahira Sheikh, a key witness in the case
relating to the 2002 massacre in a Gujarat bakery, Tuesday urged the
Supreme Court to probe the assets of rights activist Teesta Setalvad,
who had been pressing for a retrial of the case outside the state in
the interests of justice.
In an affidavit filed before an inquiry committee of the Supreme
Court, Zahira also questioned the basis on which the National Human
Rights Commission (NHRC) had asked for 12 cases relating to the case
to be transferred outside the state.
Fourteen people were torched to death in the ovens of the Best Bakery
in Vadodara on March 1, 2002, during the Gujarat riots.
Zahira alleged in the affidavit that Setalvad and her husband had
amassed huge wealth through dubious means and that their Mumbai-based
NGO Communalism Combat was a business venture of a company known as
Sabrang Publications Private Ltd.
The NGO was a mere device to avoid the provisions of Foreign
Contributions Regulations Act that required every NGO to disclose the
contributions it received from abroad, she said.
Zahira also questioned US State Department reports for 2003-04
presenting Best Bakery as a notorious case depicting a communalised
"The US State Department has set aside several lakhs (millions) of
dollars for funding litigation aimed at bringing legal redress to
Muslims in Gujarat. I am applying to this programme for aid and
assistance so that I may be able to explain to the world at large the
exploitation in the name of secularism and protection of Muslims by
persons like Setalvad," Zahira maintained.
She also enclosed documents relating to her bank accounts to disprove
the allegation that she was bribed to change her stand.
Zahira said NHRC records should be summoned to ascertain what she had
said and what the commission had stated in an affidavit filed before
Zahira was asked to give all the details of bank accounts to the
inquiry committee since Setalvad had accused her of having accepted a
bribe to change her stand.
Stating that the NHRC chairman and two members were present during the
recording of her statement, she said: "I would like my lawyer to
examine the chairman of the NHRC in respect of her statement, which
formed part of the affidavit filed on behalf of the human rights
According to her, what the commission had recorded and what was filed
in the Supreme Court by the NHRC was completely different.
Setalvad had filed an application in the Supreme Court Nov 6, 2004,
demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the
circumstances that led Zahira to reverse her statement in Vadodara Nov
3 that she was not pressurised into turning hostile in the court that
was trying the Best Bakery case.
With Zahira and other witnesses turning hostile, the trial court had
acquitted all the 21 accused in the case.
The case is now being retried in a Mumbai court after Zahira
petitioned the Supreme Court against the acquittals.
The Supreme Court had Jan 10 constituted a committee headed by its
Registrar General B.M. Gupta, who had co-opted Delhi's Joint
Commissioner of Police Kanwaljeet Deol as the other member. The
committee was asked to find out whether Zahira's statement that she
had not filed any affidavit in the case before the apex court and her
allegations against Setalvad that she had coerced her were correct or