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India: New Harassment, intimidation of journalist and woman human rights defender Teesta Setalvad

Friday 29 September 2017, by siawi3


Detailed Update on Teesta Setalvad ’s Detention & Surveillance

26 September 2017

This is a detailed communication to formally update you on the unfortunate situation as I arrived in Banaras yesterday. The CISF personnel received me at the airport. (Security provided as per orders of the Hon SC).

Before I knew it, I had been gheraoed (surrounded) by the Banaras police first ushered in, into the lounge. Then SDM Pindra, Mr Nagendra came and requested me ’Please Maam if you have come to go to BHU, police is advising me to request you not to.’

I understood the concerns even if I did not agree with them and kept explaining to them that my ticket had been booked about a month or more back for a Youth Shibir of the Samajwadi Jan Parishad at Rajghat. Repeatedly.

Finally, Mr Nagendra instructed the police to let me go, a woman police officer who was forcibly holding my luggage back was instructed to sit in the car. Just for the record, the officer in charge at the airport was fairly offensive, taking no trouble to explain security concerns. It was like being treated like a convict. The PSOs who had been assigned my protection were not at the airport (they arrived at Rajghat later and the police team was not concerned about waiting for them despite them voicing concerns for my security)

We proceeded and as the jurisdiction changed, near the Kacheri chauraha (circle near the court) I was stopped. There SDM Sadar, Sunil Verma (telAn ephone nos below) and Sub Inspector Brijendra Singh and Inspector Nayak with a whole posse of policeman stopped the car . They were polite to me but their men trying to slap around the driver of my friend’s car. I kept saying yo them, please come with me to Rajghat attend my training session, assure yourselves that I am not going to BHU but don’t curtail my freedom without reason and ruin my training programme with youth. That they were just not willing to do. For over an hour, I sat in the car in the corner of police Lines, then was compelled/requested by them to drive into Police Lines Compound.

There the unnecessary drama continued for the whole day. Verbally I kept being told that by evening they would release me. Again some said it was a question of my security others said BHU issue had made the town tense. Mr Rahulji the gunman assigned to me for security arrived sometime after I reached Police Lines. I was on the one hand told that the concern was my Security, other times being told that the city of Banaras was tense because of BHU and therefore like other ’prominent people’ , I was also being simply detained for a few hours. The half an hour assurances stretched to late night 8 pm when I was finally allowed to go.

By well.past 6 pm as darkness descended, there were hectic parleys between SDM and his superiors and I was told that if I proceeded to Jaunpur last night (my two day programme is in Jaunpur district) then I would be “released” with just a preventive detention notice. After much discussion we agreed to this though it was unnecessary and inconvenient and finally by about 8.50 pm left Banaras and reached Jaunpur where we spent the night .

There is one issue of concern. In their desire to see that I left Banaras, there seemed to be overlooking my security. I had virtually to insist to SHO Cantonment Mr Farid Ahmed (09454404379 SHO Can’t Ahmed Farid Ahmed) that I will not leave Banaras till my security concerns are met and covered.

I felt I should inform you of all these developments. The telephone nos of SDM Sadar (Centre ) Mr Sunil Verma is 09454417040

My programme is continuing as planned. We have given the programme in writing to the SDM as requested by them before my release.

I have planned to be on Jaunpur and Banaras until October 1. The administration has been given my schedule in writing. This is much like a Rule by Surveillance but have compiled. There is no guarantee that freedom of movement and speech, even others freedoms may not be still, be suddenly curtailed. We are dealing with a fairly trigger (read lathi ) happy, panicked and overly aggressive administration.

You are requested to send alerts, concerns and queries to both authorities in Delhi and Lucknow as being the prime minister ’s constituency, it us not simply the state administration and police that is involved in high level surveillance and other activities.



Statement of Academics and Activists Against Teesta Setalvad ’s Detention


Teesta Setalvad was detained in Varanasi for around 10 hours, and is now finally being released by police on condition that she leave Banaras tonight itself.
It’s outrageous - seems the PM’s constituency is under Emergency.
Below is a statement issued by several organizations

Condemnation of Arrest of Teesta Setalvad In Varanasi

We are shocked and dismayed at the arrest of activist Teesta Setalvad in Varanasi today. Teesta Setalvad was visiting Banaras to attend the Yuva Samta Samvad Shivir organized by the Samajwadi Jan Parishad at Gandhi Sansthan. The UP Government and Banaras city administration must answer why Ms Setalvad has been detained by the police? She has been given no reason for the detention – though some police personnel have expressed the fear that she may visit BHU; and others said she was being detained for “her own protection.†Such a detention is an attack on civil liberties. Has Varanasi – the constituency represented by India’s Prime Minister - been placed under an Emergency, where individuals can be arrested for no crime? Why is the BHU Administration and UP Government looking at the movement of BHU’s women students through a political lens? Why are they unleashing police on women students and arbitrarily detaining activists completely unconnected with the BHU agitation?
We demand the release of Teesta Setalvad, and we demand an explanation from the UP Government for her arrest, and for why she was prevented from addressing the youth gathering to which she had been invited.

Gargi Chakravarty, NFIW
Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA
Asha Sharma, AIDWA
Rajni Tilak, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch
Poonam Kaushik, PMS
Sucheta De, Niraj, AISA
Saba Dewan, filmmaker
Rahul Roy, filmmaker
Bittu Karnataka Janashakti, WSS
KN Ramachandran, CPI(ML) Red Star
Parth, Sabah K, Savitri Bai Ambedkar Study Circle
Payal, DU, WSS
Mrigank, IFTU
Shakeel, Basti Suraksha Manch
Archit Krishn, lawyer
Arya, KNS
Sanjeev Walia, Yamunanagar
Shyamhir, IMK, Gurgaon
Anupam, Swaraj India



In Solidarity with Teesta Setalvad - A statement from LeftWord Books


We, at LeftWord Books, stand firmly behind our author Teesta Setalvad. A person of the highest integrity and courage, Teesta embodies the best of what the Indian Constitution demands of its citizens. It might be well-worth quoting from the preamble to remind all people of the key values enshrined in that document, which urges Indians to secure for all citizens,

- Justice, social, economic and political;
- Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
- Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all
- Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

Each part of this preamble defines the life of Teesta Setalvad — a fighter for justice and equality, who exercises her liberty to join others in the creation of a fraternal nation.

The harassment of Teesta Setalvad by the central government and by certain state governments interrupts the basic values of the Constitution. We urge all Indians to defend the right of Teesta and other activists to work hard to ensure that India remains a ’sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.’

Sudhanva Deshpande and Vijay Prashad,