Eyewitness to Teesta Setalvad’s Arrest

Teesta Arrest

It was on June 25, at around 4 PM, that the arrest drama of the civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad began. This is narrated by Teesta’s journalist friend Rukmani Sen who was present during the events that progressed to the activists’ arrest. Tao know about click; https://rukminiatwork.wordpress.com/about/

Teesta received a call in the morning from Noida’s office of ATS asking her about her security and then was informed that Gujarat ATS will question her at Santa Cruz police station after which she will be taken to Gujarat.

Rukmani Sen who went to Tessta’s home saw ATS people were in her bedroom and the activist was sitting on the floor surrounded by ATS officers. Teesta told in front of all present there that there was no arrest warrant. The ATS people had barged into her house pushed her to the wall and hurt her, while showing her a black bruise on her left upper arm.

Teesta asked the ATS officer ‘Jasmine’ to follow the procedure and told her that if it was detention, not arrest, then she will go to the local police station and register a complaint of kidnapping as it is done without a warrant.

After that Rukmini Sen and MJ Pandey accompanied Teesta Setalvad along with two ATS of the rank of sub-inspectors in the car. They were taken to Santa Cruz, a police station where ATS officer Jasmine Patel and the lady sub-inspectors tried to resist Teesta from entering the police station. They pushed her and intimidated her but Teesta made her way into the police station.

Teesta spoke to the media at the police station saying that the ATS people were not letting her register her complaint and that ATS Gujarat was not carrying any warrant of her arrest and as such her arrest/ detention was illegal…

Teesta gave a written complaint to the Santa Cruze police station. The Mumbai police followed all procedures and took down the names of all the ATS officers present, reports Rukmini Sen.

After that Teesta along with Rukmini Sen and MJ Pandey were taken to Gujarat. Teesta’s phones were seized at the Nirant, her Juhu home.  Once they entered Gujarat they made a stop at a restaurant called Papillon where Teesta asked for her phone.  She insisted she would speak with the IO; otherwise not move from the restaurant. After much verbal duel, ACP Chudasama, the IO from the crime branch gave her the phones that were switched off, with instructions not to be used.

Teesta along with her friends reached Crime Branch Ahmedabad around 6 am on June 26. Teesta told the IO and the officers from ATS that she will cooperate but they must follow the procedure.

It was then one officer, who pushed Teesta friend MJ Pandey and abused Teesta with the slur “bhosdi nee” while taking all the phones back. This happened in the atrium/ courtyard of the Ahmedabad crime branch, reports Rukmini Sen.

Teesta and Rukmani were taken to the first floor of the crime branch where Rukmani was asked to leave but she insisted to stay till the IO arrives. They sat in a room with seven women cops were also sitting.

It is then Teesta asked whether RB Sreekumar was also there? About an hour time, they saw Sreekumar going to the washroom. Teesta called out his name and he peeped inside and exchanged pleasantries asking when she came in?

RB Sreekumar is a 1971 batch IPS officer, who is originally from Kerala and was ADGP in charge of the armed unit in Gujarat during the Godhra incident. He was one of the very few officials who testified against the Gujarat government before the Nanavati Commission that looked into the 2002 Gujarat riots.

At about 8 am ACP Chudasama met Teesta who made a verbal complaint about her illegal detention and told her that this was a political case. She also requested ACP to meet her lawyers and they must be allowed at the magistrate’s office.

Then Teesta was first taken for the Covid test to SV hospital, Ahmedabad. Teesta managed to show her bruise to the media for the first time there and then was brought back to the crime branch.

At around 2 PM Teesta was brought to the metropolitan court, Ahmedabad where RB Sreekumar was brought in at the same time. That was a closed-door hearing and no one was allowed.  Teesta was constantly surrounded by large teams of crime branch officials and Gujarat police. At every juncture, Teesta reminded me that her prosecution was a political case. She told them she was pushed and pulled and touched even though she was not a criminal.

Teesta was once again taken to hospital for reexamination and then taken back to the Crime Branch where the magistrate’s order of her arrest was communicated to her. She was taken on remand for the first 5 days and this remand was to be extended for the next 6 days that would end on July 2. The order also said that she can meet a family member and a lawyer every day.

The entire episode is summed up in a media report that says; “An SIT consisting of four members including ATS DIG Deepan Bhadran has been constituted to investigate the case involving activist Teesta Setalvad. The activist was on Saturday detained by the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Mumbai in connection with an FIR registered against her at the Ahmedabad city crime branch.  Setalvad’s arrest is in connection to her NGO, which had supported Zakia Jafri throughout her legal battle.”

Jafri’s husband Ehsan Jafri, who was a Congress leader, was killed during the 2002 Gujarat riots. The case reignited after the Supreme Court upheld the verdict on the Gujarat riots and gave a clean chit to then CM Narendra Modi for his involvement in the Gujarat riots.

The media report said that “Gujarat ATS had sought 14-days of custody of Setalvad because she was not cooperating in the investigation. “The accused are not supporting us in the investigation. We are demanding 14 days of custody. Teesta will be produced in front of the Magistrate and all her statements will be recorded there. We are getting the documents arranged from various sources,” said the DCP.

Trivia – Teesta Setalvad, is a foot soldier of the Indian Constitution. In her case, the Congress and other opposition parties have simply left her in a lurch. Only left parties, lawyers, and some Civil Rights activists have come out in the open to support her.  Literally, she is at the mercy of some merciless people.

Stop Press – Chudasama is no longer IO, a special SIT appointed to investigate the Teesta Stalvad case.


Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at [email protected]  The author has received the input from Rukmani Sen via email –[email protected],  via dgroups.org

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