A former aide of social activist Teesta Setalvad has moved the Bombay high court seeking a retrial in the Best Bakery case, one of the major carnages during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. He has accused Setalvad of fabricating evidence and framing innocent people in the case.
In an affidavit, sent as a letter dated September 27 to the chief justice of the Bombay high court, Raiskhan Azizkhan Pathan, 45, has also sought directions to prosecute Setalvad. He has called for lie detector tests on Setalvad and himself to reveal the truth.
Pathan was a field coordinator with the NGO Citizens for Peace and Justice, which had played a crucial role in bringing several culprits of the Gujarat riots to book. Setalvad is the general secretary of the NGO. Nine of the accused in the Best Bakery case were awarded life term by a Mumbai sessions court and their appeals are pending in the high court.
“When most of the victims failed to give definite names of accused persons, they were asked to give names on the basis of enmity with persons in their locality,” Pathan’s affidavit stated. “Accordingly, case-wise names of accused and witnesses were prepared and finalised in relief camps and the same were sent to Setalvad for preparing affidavits of victims/witnesses.”
He also alleged that paying witnesses, not the victims, was a priority for Setalvad. “When a witness was paid Rs 50,000 to Rs 1,00,000 the victims were getting only Rs 5,000 each,” the affidavit stated.
Pathan also alleged that seven witnesses in the case were virtually put under house arrest at Mariam Apartment in Bhendi.
In April, Shaikh Yasmeen Banu, a key prosecution witness, had also filed an application against Setalvad and Pathan, seeking a retrial in the case.
“The courts will vindicate us,” the NGO said in a media release.