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The Times of India, Jul 23 2015
Teesta splurged riot relief on wine, hairdos, Guj cops tell SC
Gujarat police has told the Supreme Court that social activist Teesta Setalvad and her husband Javed Anand had used 2002 riot victims as “poster boys“ to raise Rs 6-7 crore but indulged in a colossal fraud, using most of the money for their personal expenses. The state police said that as trustees of the two NGOs -Sabrang Trust and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) -Teesta and her husband misappropriated the funds for consumption of liquor, wining and dinning at expensive restaurants, purchase of personal items and even on an expensive hairdo at Rome and in Pakistan.
Police have alleged that Teesta claimed Rs 5,000 as reimbursements for the hairdo in Rome and another Rs 3,800 for the one in Pakistan. The expenses were put under the “secular education or legal aid expenses“ head.
“In spite of using the Gulbarg Society and its members' plight as poster boys for the collection of funds, no financial support was ever disbursed, no rent was reimbursed and absolutely no funds were received for rehabilitation of the affected per sons. No steps were taken for the reconstruction of the houses of the inhabitants of Gulbarg society , nor the society was converted into museum,“ the Gujarat cops said as they opposed the anticipatory bail granted by the court to Teesta and her husband.
Police contended that only a minuscule part of the big amount raised for the welfare of riots victims and for construction of `Gulbarg Society Museum of Resistance' was spent for the stated purpose, the bulk of it being cornered by Teesta and her husband. The affidavit alleges that Teesta and Javed, who have no source of income, have been dependent on the funds raised for the riot victims for their “livelihood“.
The affidavit said Teesta drew an annual salary ranging from Rs 1,79,400 in 2008 to Rs 8,75,800 in 2013 and similarly remuneration drawn by her husband increased from Rs 2,40,000 in 2008 to Rs 8,61,000 in 2013. “It is to be noted that 45% of the total funds received in 2008-13 by the Sabrang Trust have found their way to the petitioners either directly or through Sabrang Communication Pvt Limited which was fully owned by them,“ the affidavit said.
Rebuttal of the Gujarat Police's claims
The Times of India, Jul 24 2015
Setalvad rebuts Guj cops' charges point by point
Anguished by the flip pant charges made against her by the Gujarat police and other state agencies, activist Teesta Setalvad feels the entire purpose seems to be to tarnish her character and divert attention from the substantive work she and her organization has done to bring relief and justice to the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots. She sent TOI a point-by point rebuttal of the Gujarat Police's claims that she and her husband Javed Anand misused money raised for Gujarat riot victims, through their organisations Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust.
The state police, arguing against anticipatory bail for the couple, has claimed that they had raised Rs 6-7 crore for a Gulberg Society communal violence memorial. “In spite of using the Gulberg Society and its members' plight as poster boys for the collection of funds, no financial support was ever disbursed, no rent was reimbursed and absolutely no funds were received for rehabilitation of the affected persons. No steps were taken for the reconstruction of the houses of the inhabitants of Gulbarg society , nor the society was converted into museum,“ it said.
But Setalvad says the residents of the Gulberg Housing Society, who had left their homes after the massacre that killed 69 people in 2002, had been unable to sell at market price. In 2007-8, Sabrang Trust suggested fundraising to buy them and set up a memorial to the victims. By 2012, only Rs 4.6 lakh had been raised, the while a fair estimate of prices in 2007-8 amounted to Rs 3-4 crore. The office-bearers of Gulberg Society were duly informed by Sabrang, and asked to dispose of their property as they thought fit. The Rs 4.6 lakh collected for the memorial is lying untouched in the trust's bank account.
The police affidavit also claimed that Setalvad drew an annual salary ranging from Rs 1,79,400 in 2008 to Rs 8,75,800 in 2013, while Anand's salary increased from Rs 2,40,000 in 2008 to Rs 8,61,000 in 2013. It alleged that “45% of the total funds received in 2008-13 by the Sabrang Trust have found their way to the petitioners either directly or through Sabrang Communication Pvt Limited which was fully owned by them“.
Setalvad has broken down this amount to show that the contested amount, which she puts at 39.5%, was spent, according to audited accounts, on legitmate activities of the two organisations. She says that between 2003 and 2014, she received an average salary of Rs 39,000 per month, for executing specific projects of CJP and Sabrang Trust funded by various donor agencies. Javed Anand drew a sala ry of Rs. 23,500 a month in the same period.
Auditing firm D.M Sathe & Co, after re-verifying the accounts of Sabrang Trust, reported to the crime branch that they found no financial irregularities or personal expenses charged to the trust.The CJP accounts had been audited by Haribhai & Co between 2003 and 2013. They also reported to the crime branch that no irregularities had been found.
She maintains that Citizens for Justice and Peace has provided documentary evidence of these claims, running into over 1,500 pages, to the Gujarat high court, and given the police over 11,000 pages of cash voucher payments made by the organisa tions. And yet, she says, the accounts of the two organisations have been frozen for the last 13 months on the basis of illegal instructions to the banks.