Global Indian diaspora condemns arrests of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, Mohammed Zubair on trumped-up charges - IAMC

Global Indian diaspora condemns arrests of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, Mohammed Zubair on trumped-up charges

Suspension of all norms of justice and gross violation of human and civil rights represents a state of undeclared emergency in India


Washington, DC (June 28, 2022)

Leading multi-faith and civil society organizations from the Indian diaspora around the world today unequivocally condemned the arrests of human rights defenders Teesta Setalvad and R. B. Sreekumar, as well as journalist Mohammed Zubair in India.

Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar were both pivotal in bringing justice to the victims of the pogrom against Muslims in 2002 in Gujarat. Mohammed Zubair is the co-founder of fact-checking website Their arrests by Indian police on trumped-up charges are clearly retribution for their activism and struggle for truth and justice.

Ms. Setalvad’s NGO, Citizens for Justice and Peace, was established to help victims prosecute officials, including then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, for the crimes of abetting the pogrom. She worked with Ms. Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Member of Parliament Ehsan Jafri, to pursue a case against Modi at the Supreme Court in 2013.

On February 28, 2002, Mr. Jafri had provided shelter to Muslims at his home in Ahmedabad city from a mob of Hindu extremists. Mr. Jafri made calls, including to Modi, to Gujarat officials but to no avail. The mob set his housing complex on fire, killing 69 people, including Mr. Jafri. Ms. Jafri has maintained that Modi top Gujarat officials conspired in that violence. On June 25, however, India’s Supreme Court dismissed the case and virtually accused Ms. Setalvad of a “conspiracy” against Modi.

Hours later, Ms. Setalvad was arrested in Mumbai after Home Minister Amit Shah, Modi’s second-in-command, publicly accused her of fabricating evidence and coaching Ms. Jafri to provide false testimony. Ms. Setalvad’s arrest is unmistakably politically motivated by Modi and Shah who stand the most to lose from her work.

Former Director General of Gujarat Police R. B. Sreekumar, who testified that law enforcement were complicit in the pogrom, was also arrested on June 26. Former Indian Police Service Officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is serving a life sentence on other bogus charges, was also named in the First Information Report (FIR) against Mr. Sreekumar. Mr. Bhatt’s real crime was highlighting Modi’s complicity in the Gujarat pogrom.

The arrest of Ms. Setalvad and Mr. Sreekumar shows the Supreme Court lacks independence. It sets a dangerous precedent that will discourage individuals from petitioning the Supreme Court with complaints against the Government.

It must be recalled that the US had punished Modi for his complicity in the anti-Muslim pogrom when the George W. Bush Administration denied him a US visa in 2005 designating him as an Individual of Particular Concern.

Zubair’s arrest is an assault on freedom of the press and, indeed, on citizens’ right to the truth. Zubair, who is a co founder of the fact checking website, has played a key role in demolishing falsehoods spread by Hindu nationalists connected with Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and its fascist paramilitary ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The arrests are a stark reminder that the US must actively and publicly combat India’s descent into fascism. Like with other arrested activists such as Anand Teltumbde, Javed Mohammed, Parveen Fatima and Umar Khalid, India’s government has arrested and is attempting to silence Setalvad, Sreekumar, Bhatt and Zubair.

  1. Indian American Muslim Council, USA
  2. India Civil Watch International, USA
  3. Hindus for Human Rights, USA
  4. Dalit Solidarity Forum, USA
  5. Ambedkar King Study Circle, USA
  6. Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, UK
  7. Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians (AAPI), New Zealand
  8. Boston South Asian Coalition, USA
  9. Coalition Against Fascism in India, USA
  10. CERAS (Centre sur l’Asie du sud / South Asia Center), Canada
  11. Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Aotearoa New Zealand
  12. The Humanism Project, Australia
  13. International Council of Indian Muslims, Worldwide
  14. India Justice Project, Berlin, Germany
  15. India Solidarity Germany, Germany
  16. Indian Solidarity Finland, Finland
  17. International Solidarity For Academic Freedom, Worldwide
  18. International Society for Peace and Justice, USA
  19. Scottish Indians for Justice, United Kingdom
  20. South Asian Diaspora Action Collective, Canada
  21. South Asia Solidarity Group, UK
  22. Justice for All, Canada
  23. Coalition of Seattle Indian Americans (CSIA), USA
  24. Council on Minority Rights in India (CMRI), USA
  25. Community Rights Council of Piscataway, USA
  26. People Against Apartheid and Fascism, South Africa
  27. Ambedkarite Buddhist Association of Texas (ABAT), USA
  28. Periyar International USA
  29. South Asian Dalit Adivasi Network, Canada((SADAN)
  30. South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), USA