Zafar Iqbal


Teesta Setalvad  spoke at the Washington regional Amnesty International of Washington meeting about anti-Muslim riots and justice in India (Gujarat) on  July 8th, 2008. She lamented the ineptness of  the central government and callousness of Gujarat judiciary in bringing justice for the victims.  The report presents a profile of the three speakers. – Ed.


Amnesty International of Washington region organized a public awareness meeting about anti-Muslim riots and justice in India (Gujarat) last Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 at their Washington office.  A ten-minute documentary film highlighted the carnage perpetrated by hate-mongers and continued callousness of Modi government towards the pogrom victims. 


Teesta Setalvad spoke, in detail with facts, about the possible involvement of the Gujarat government operatives in planning and systematic execution of the carnage.  She lamented the impotency of the central government and callousness of Gujarat judiciary in bringing justice for the victims.  In my sincere opinion, Ms. Setalvad is a one courageous lady, who has given her life for this missionary work and is exposed to constant life-threatening attacks by hate-monger gangs. 


Mr. Sreekumar described behind the scene activities of functionaries in organizing the events that led to pogrom. He told how he was transferred from his sensitive and important position because did not succumb to the plans of Gujarat political leaders. 


Nishrin Hussain spoke about the organized brutality of attackers, who disfigured and burned alive her father (the late Ehsan Jafri, then sitting Member of Parliament of India) and many other residents of the colony. She said she was proud to have born in Independent India and is still hoping for justice that is evading Muslims of Gujarat. Recounting brutal description of her father’s death was not easy and emotions overtook her. Teesta Setalvad helped in providing some details regarding gruesome massacre of residents of the colony.


The meeting was attended by a large number of people representing diverse groups of Indian community namely, the Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), Association of Indian Muslims in America (AIM), Association for India’s Development (AID), Gujarati Muslims, Hyderabad Association, and Sadbhav Mission, etc., and a number of people of non-Indian origin interested in human rights issues.


Mr. T. Kumar, Advocacy Director for Asia & Pacific, Amnesty International USA, thanked the speakers and audience.  He mentioned that the idea of arranging this meeting was to educate people about human rights issues and try to get justice for the victims of Gujarat victims.


Teesta Setalvad is a Mumbai based civil rights activist, journalist and educationist. Appalled by the communal violence during the Bombay Riots, she, along with activist husband Javed Anand, quit full-time journalism in 1993 to start a monthly magazine Communalism Combat. Teesta Setalvad won the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award 2003 and in 2007 she was given the Padma Shri Award by the Government of India for her role in “Public Affairs in Maharashatra”. Teesta Setalvad, has been a crusader for Gujarat riot cases and convinced the Supreme Court to move the cases out of Gujarat. Her tireless efforts finally brought justice to the victims in the famous “Best Bakery Case” despite aintimidations and hostile witnesses.


Mr. R. B. Sreekumar, a retired Senior Police Officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS). Sreekumar performed his duties courageously by thwarting attempts of his political bosses in Gujarat to cover-up and subvert justice in the aftermath of Gujarat carnage in 2002. He served the Gujarat State for 35 years in various positions before retiring in 2007 as Additional Director General of Police. He was awarded the Medal for Meritorious Service in 1990 and a Medal for Distinguished Service in 1998 by the Government of India. He was awarded The Gangadharan Memorial Award for Best Police Man, in April 2008, for his “courageous and competent performance of duties during 2002 Gujarat riots.


Nishrin Hussain is the daughter of former Member of Parliament, Ashen Jafri, who was burnt to death by Hindu rioters during the Gujarat riots in 2002. Mr. Jafri was one of the top party officials of the Indian National Congress Party, current governing party of India. In the aftermath of Gujarat massacre, she worked with several organizations to bring justice to the victims of Gujarat violence.

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