Monday, September 6, 2010
Navin Upadhyay | New Delhi
‘She influenced witnesses to wrongly testify in courts'
A former close associate of social activist Teesta Setalvad has sought permission to testify before the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the post-Godhra riot cases about the way she influenced the witnesses to wrongly testify before courts.
Seeking to set the record straight, Rais Khan, a former coordinator for Setalvad’s NGO, Citizen for Peace and Justice (CJP), has written to SIT chief RK Raghavan and Supreme Court’s Justice DK Jain denying news reports that he had tampered with the affidavits filed by Nanumiya Rasulmiya Malik, a star witness in Naroda Gaum and Madina Banu rape cases.
“I wish to state that these affidavits were not prepared by me and were sent to me by Teesta Setalvad of CJP from Mumbai for obtaining signature of witness Nanumiya. Nanumiya’s allegation against me that I inserted certain paragraphs in his affidavit without his knowledge is totally false, as I never made any changes in his affidavit. Nanunuya has signed the affidavits sent by Teesta, under whom I was working during that period.”
In a letter dated September 1 to SIT chief RK Raghavan, SC judge DK Jain and HS Vora, Judge Special Designated Court (SIT), Ahmedabad, Khan said, “I wish to give a statement to SIT to clarify my position on such baseless allegations and (I am) also willing to disclose how innocent witnesses and victims were misguided by Teesta Setalvad to wrongly testify before many courts.” A copy of the letter is with The Pioneer.
Khan went on to add, “I am sure I may be given a chance to disclose various facts before the SIT related to not only these cases but other cases also.”
In the past, Khan had also alleged that the CJP, a Mumbai-based NGO, was instrumental in organising payment of `1 lakh each to as many as 10 witnesses in various post-Godhra riot cases. The money came from the CPI(M) relief fund and was distributed months before the witnesses deposed in the courts, five years after the clashes took place. Four other eyewitnesses received `50,000 each.
The revelation had come in the backdrop of reports that a host of Gujarat riot case victims were misled into signing affidavits giving false information at the behest of CJP.
Interestingly, those who were both victims and eyewitnesses received `1 lakh and `50,000 while the victims got mere `5,000 each. This had raised eyebrows over the selection of beneficiaries and the purpose of paying a disproportionately large sum to the eyewitnesses before the trial.
Khan had at that time told The Pioneer that he had submitted the name of beneficiaries to the CPI(M) on instructions from Teesta Setalvad. “Setalvad identified the people and I merely followed her instruction and forwarded the list to CPI (M),” Khan had said.
On August 20 this year, the SIT had accused Teesta of interfering with the trial by threatening a public prosecutor (PP).
In a report submitted to the Supreme Court, the SIT said she threatened to complain to the SC against the PP for opposing an application for stay of trial by one Salim Shaikh. Setalvad had told the prosecutor on phone that he should have simply ‘okayed’ the application, the SIT stated.
Referring to her conversation with Meghaninagar riot case public prosecutor RC Kodekar, the apex court Bench noted, “This is serious…we will not appreciate this at all.”
Meanwhile, Rais Khan has been getting threatening calls warning him not to speak against Setalvad, otherwise “he and his family will be killed”. Khan even lodged a formal complaint last month at Rakhiyal police station, Ahmedabad, about the threats.