Times of India’s attempt to bash human rights activists


The Saffron blogs are celebrating the Times of India’s report on how Teesta Setalvad allegedly tried to spice up Gujarat carnage incidents. Here is the first few lines of the report that was published in TOI.
The Special Investigation Team responsible for the arrests of those accused in Gujarat riots has severely censured NGOs and social activist Teesta Setalvad who campaigned for the riot victims. In a significant development, the SIT led by former CBI director R K Raghavan told the Supreme Court on Monday that the celebrated rights activist cooked up macabre tales of wanton killings.for the riot victims.

After reading the above paragraph what will you infer? You will obviously believe that the SIT team told in the Supreme Court on Monday, April 13 2009, that the human right activists including Teesta Setalvad cooked up stories on riot incidents.
What is the truth?
The report of Special investigation team set up by Supreme court was actually submitted on March 2 2009 and not on April 13, 2009. It has been kept confidential ever since.Nobody from SIT was submitting anything on April 13 in the Supreme Court.
What actually happened was the Counsel for Gujarat Government Mr Rohatgi read from a written note submitted by the Gujarat Government to the Supreme Court,claiming that SIT report has found that the allegations made by NGOs like Citizens for Justice and Peace are false.In response Justice Pasayat said “we don’t want to go into the allegations. Justice must prevail. Truth can be arrived at only if there is such an atmosphere”.
While the Supreme Court observed that there was no room for allegations and counter allegations at this late stage, the Times of India coverage has brazenly flouted this observation by reporting the totally baseless allegations against social activist Teesta Setalvad and the organisation she represents Citizen for Justice and Peace on the basis of the Gujarat government’s note circulated in the Court. This is all the more reprehensible because Teesta Setalvad and Citizen for Justice and Peace have neither been given a copy of the SIT report nor has their response been sought in the matter.
The very fact that the Supreme Court had to set up the SIT to correct the miscarriage of justice due to the tardy investigation by the state of Gujarat was highlighted in the court’s observation that but for the SIT investigation many more accused, who were freshly added, would not have been brought to book. It was the untiring efforts of Teesta Setalvad and the CJP and the National Human Rights Commission that persuaded the Supreme Court to set up the SIT and on the basis of its findings further arrests have been made of persons who held top jobs in Police and in the Modi ministry in Gujarat.
Why did Times of India report such allegation by Gujarat Government as truth?
What is the importance of the timing of the report?

All opinion polls about the current Parliament elections in India suggest that the BJP led NDA will not win enough seats to attain power in Centre. Most polls suggest that the stigma of Gujarat riots still haunts the BJP, especially among urban middle class and upper class voters.Times of India report may be a last ditch attempt by a compliant and unethical media to help BJP garner some more Parliament seats to help its agenda of Hindutvaisation of India. That’s why such a report appeared in Times of India, 2 days before the beginning of month long polling.
edited to add..
Read rebuttal of CJP here and the TOI reporter’s reply here. TOI reporter do not have an explanation for the way he distorted and made a false impression on the readers that SIT said such things on April 13 2009 in the Supreme Court.

We need the SIT report to be made public by the Court so that we can study it and come to a conclusion. Most probably the report will have some remarks against the CJP,but also more severe reprimand for the Gujarat Government. By quoting some selected parts supposed to be from the SIT report the Gujarat Government betrayed the trust of confidentiality of the Supreme Court for some narrow political gains.

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