'Completely unwarranted': India rejects UN rights agency's criticism of action against Teesta Setalvad, 2 ex-cops
The trio must not be ‘persecuted’ for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots, the agency said in a tweet last night.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Wednesday described as ‘unwarranted’, a statement by the UN human rights agency condemning the arrests of activist Teesta Setalvad and ‘two other persons'.
“We have seen a comment by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding legal action against Teesta Setalvad and 2 other persons. The remarks are completely unwarranted and constitute an interference in India's independent judicial system,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a statement, according to news agency ANI.
“Authorities in India act against violations of law strictly in accordance with established judicial processes. Labeling such legal actions as persecution for activism is misleading and unacceptable,” the statement further stated.
The MEA was responding to a tweet put out by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Tuesday, which said, “We are very concerned by the arrest and detention of #WHRD @TeestaSetalvad and two ex police officers and call for their immediate release. They must not be persecuted for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 #GujaratRiots.”
Of the two former police officers, one is ex-Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, who, like Setalvad, was arrested by the Gujarat ATS on June 25. While the activist was arrested from her residence in Mumbai, Sreekumar was arrested from his home in Gandhinagar.
The action was taken in a case registered against them on charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy, among others.
Meanwhile, the other former officer is likely to be Sanjiv Bhatt, who was in Gujarat during the 2002 riots, and, in later years, became a vocal critic of prime minister Narendra Modi. On June 20, 2019, Bhatt was sentenced to jail for life in a custodial death case.
The arrests of Setalvad, also a staunch critic of PM Modi, and Sreekumar, sparked protests across several cities. Critics accused the Modi government of indulging in a ‘witch-hunt’ as the crackdown came a day after the Supreme Court upheld clean chit to then-CM Narendra Modi and several others in connection with a 2002 Gujarat riots case.