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Court slams Gujarat, spares Teest in mass grave case

Delhi,Crime/Disaster/Accident,Immigration/Law/Rights, Fri, 13 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) In a relief to social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Supreme Court Friday stayed all the proceedings against her in connection with the 2002 Gujarat riots case involving exhumation of unidentified bodies buried at Lunawada in the state.


The court said that it was the Gujarat authority that should have been prosecuted for the violation of human rights.


An apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai told Gujarat government counsel: "You must have read the FIR (first information report). Accused should have been on the other side (state authority). It was the state which should have been prosecuted for the violation of the human rights."


The court stressed, "We are highly dissatisfied. The case is made out against the authorities. If an holistic view is taken, the FIR should have been against the authorities."


In the case, the Gujarat government had filed an FIR against Teesta Setalvad alleging that the mass grave of the people killed in 2002 Gujarat riots was dug up at her behest.


The entire case against Setalvad was based on a statement made by one man, Rais Khan, who was working in her NGO, Committee for Justice and Peace (CJP).


The court said the entire case against Teesta is malafide. "This is a malafide case," the bench observed.


The mass grave digging case refers to an incident Dec 27, 2005, when six people, led by Rais Khan Pathan, the then field co-ordinator of the CJP, dug up 28 unclaimed bodies near the bed of the Panam river at Lunawada in Panchmahal district of Gujarat.


Claiming that the bodies were of the missing victims of the Pandharwada massacre and that they were their relatives, the grave-diggers had then reburied the bodies according to Islamic rites after having conducted DNA tests to identify them.


At the time, Pathan had said he had dug up the bodies at Setalvad's behest.


A total of 32 people -- all of them Muslim and residents of Pandharwada town in Panchmahal district -- were reported to have been killed March 1, 2002, during statewide communal riots. However, bodies of 28 people were not found.


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