India's top court grants bail to activist in 2002 Gujarat riots case

Teesta Setalvad was arrested by police for allegedly coaching witnesses and forging documents


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Published: Fri 2 Sep 2022, 5:18 PM

India’s Supreme Court granted bail on Friday to a prominent human rights activist and lawyer who has spearheaded a campaign to hold officials responsible for deadly 2002 riots in Gujarat, more than two months after she was detained on allegations of fabricating evidence.

Teesta Setalvad was arrested by the Gujarat police in June for allegedly coaching witnesses and forging documents in cases related to the riots, in which more than 1,000 people were killed. She has denied the allegations and hasn’t been formally charged.

The top court's decision came a day after it heard Setalvad's petition for bail. It said there is “no offense in this case over which bail cannot be granted,” and asked Setalvad to surrender her passport and cooperate with police during the investigation.

Setalvad has long campaigned for justice for victims of the riots. She rose to prominence during her long legal campaign for Zakia Jafri, whose husband, Ehsan Jafri, was burned alive by mobs. Ehsan, a former member of Parliament, was a prominent Muslim politician and had offered refuge to fleeing Muslims during the riots.

Jafri, now 85, has sought to establish that the riots were the result of a high-level conspiracy.

Over the years, Setalvad has been investigated by various government agencies for allegedly misappropriating funds meant for riot victims. She has denied any wrongdoing and that case is pending in court.

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