Though the Supreme Court stayed the arrest of human rights activist Teesta Setalvad in an alleged case of embezzlement, and will hear the petition against the Gujarat High Court's refusal of protection against possible arrest today , the whole case can be seen as the targeting of an activist involved in cases relating to the 2002 carnage in Gujarat. Indeed, even the very threat of arrest in such a case seems an extreme measure and even harassment.
A cursory look at the timeline of the allegations and cases against Setalvad and her associate and husband reveal a pattern of state intimidation, even as cases like the 2002 killings at the Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad continue to drag on. The charge against Setalvad, misappropriation of funds meant for a museum at the Gulberg Society site, arose after a person complained to the Crime Branch in Ahmedabad. It was later found the complaint had been sent on a forged letterhead, and when documents were presented show ing that no wrongdoing had taken place, the Crime Branch dropped the investigation. But the case has still been raked up again and again.
Justice for communal riot victims remains elusive in India, on the whole, marring our justice delivery system. But Gujarat 2002 has seen some measure of justice: many perpetrators, including a then-minister in the Modi regime, were convicted.Though all the victims haven't had that justice, much of what was delivered happened due to the courage of victims and activists like Setalvad in pursuing the cases despite interminable delays and apparent state antipathy . The judiciary must ensure that allegations like this are probed quickly , and do not become a tool for harassment and intimidation of activists or anyone seeking justice against the powerful or the state.