The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday conducted searches at social activist Teesta Setalvad’s Mumbai residence and two offices in connection with an alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) while receiving funds from abroad.
CBI officials collected documents from Setalvad’s residence in Juhu and the offices of Sabrang Communications and Publishing Pvt Ltd (SCPPL). On July 8, the CBI had registered a case against SCPPL directors, including Setalvad, her husband Javed Anand and Peshimam Gulam Mohammed, on allegations of criminal conspiracy for illegal acceptance of foreign contribution without registration and prior permission from the home ministry.
Setalvad, best known for her legal aid to victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots, termed the search operation “shocking”. “As I write this, the search is still not concluded. It is shocking that while over a dozen members of the CBI are still in our premises conducting the search, (its) Delhi spokesperson is misleading the public and our vast supporters by a series of misinformation and official tweets,” she said in a statement.
The search was nothing but an attempt to intimidate and humiliate, she said: “In our view... this is a continuation of the persecution and witch-hunt first launched by the Gujarat police in 2014.”
A CBI source, familiar with the probe, said the agency found documents to support the core allegation, which was acceptance of illegal foreign contributions worth over Rs 1 crore.
CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said the agency followed the due process of law and countered the “cooperation claim” of Setalvad, contending “as far as cooperation with CBI is concerned, they have not been able to explain the FCRA violation”.
According to a home ministry source, SCPPL allegedly got $2,90,000 from US-based NGO Ford Foundation. “The CBI may seek clarifications from the NGO with regard to the alleged contributions from it,” the source said.