Dial CPM Brinda and Teesta for cash-for-false-affidavits
Gujarat-based NGO processed payment from CPM relief fund
Navin Upadhyay | New Delhi (Pioneer, 20 Dec. 2008)
A controversial Gujarat-based NGO was instrumental in organising payment of Rs 1 lakh each to as many as ten 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 Rs 50,000 each.
The revelation comes 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 Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), an NGO headed by social activist Teesta Setalvad.
Incidentally, those who were both victims and eyewitnesses received Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000 while the victims got mere Rs 5,000 each. This has raised eyebrows over the selection of beneficiaries and the purpose of paying a disproportionately large sum to the eyewitnesses before the trial.
Chief Coordinator of CJP Rais Khan told The Pioneer that he had submitted the name of beneficiaries to the CPI(M) on instruction from Teesta Setalvad. "Setalvad identified the people and I merely followed her instruction and forwarded the list to CPI (M)," Khan said.
When contacted, Setalvad said she was present at the function on an invitation from the CPI(M) and had nothing to do with fund raising. "It was CPI(M) money and I was a mere guest at the function," she claimed.
Yasin Naimudin Ansari, one of the eyewitnesses who got one lakh rupees, told The Pioneer on phone from Ahmedabad that he was approached by someone from Teesta Setalvad's organisation. "I vaguely remember this. But I don't remember the name of the person," he said.
The function took place in Ahmedabad on August 26, 2007 and the witnesses were handed out demand drafts by CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat, Teesta Setalvad and Rais Khan.
Brinda Karat admitted that the CPI(M) had raised the money, adding that as far the party was concerned it was giving relief to the victims. "Our party is not involved in any court cases involving Gujarat riots, and for us, distributing relief was merely a humanitarian gesture," she said.
Not disputing that she had taken the help of local NGOs to identify the victims, Brinda said, "We had received a lot of applications and money was distributed in different phases."
The 14 DDs (Nos 567540 to 567554 all dated 01/08/2007) were handed over to these witnesses by Teesta, Brinda and Rais Khan. Seven DDs were payable at Ahmedabad and seven at Baroda. Interestingly, one of the recipients is Yasmin Banu Sheikh, the estranged wife of Zahira Sheikh's brother Nafitullah.
The Pioneer is in possession of letters written by beneficiaries thanking Brinda, Teesta and Rais Khan for the payment.
Yasmin Banu Ismailbhai Shaikh (aunt of Zahira) of Baroda, who received Rs 50,000 (DD No 567552 dated August 1, 2007). Yasmin is a complainant in case No. 114/04 at Baroda. It is interesting to note that, when no substance was found in her complaint, she was directed to face lie detection test by the court and ever since she has not appeared in the court.
Among the recipients are four Best Bakery case witnesses and nine are appearing as witnesses in Ahmedabad-related Naroda Patia, Shahpur, Khanpur and other 2002 riot cases.
The information has been gleaned through a string of petitions under the Right to Information Act by one H Jhaveri from various agencies, including banks.
The four Best Bakery case witnesses are:
Sailun Hasan Khan Pathan of Ahmedabad who was paid Rs 1 lakh; Tufel Ahmed Habibullah Siddiqui of Baroda who received 50,000; Sehjad Khan Hasan Khan Pathan of Baroda who was paid Rs 50,000 and Rais Khan Amin Khan Pathan of Baroda who too got Rs 50,000.
There are nine witnesses relating to Ahmedabad riots who are testifying in local riot cases. All of them were given Rs 1 lakh and they are: 1.Kureshabibi Harunbhai Ghori of Baroda, witness in case No. 11/02 registered in Khanpur Police Station.
2. Husenabibi Gulambhai Shaikh, also of Baroda and witness in case No. 11/02 filed in Khanpur police station.
3. Rasidabanu Yusufkhan Pathan of Ahmedabad, witness in 2002 riots cases.
4. Fatimabanu Babubhai Saiyyed of Ahmedabad and witness in Case No. 100/02 registered in Shahpur Police Station.
5. Badurnnisha Mohd Ismail Shaikh of Ahmedabad, witness in Case No. 49/0 3 of Shahpur Police Station.
6. Mohd Khalid Saiyyed Ali Saiyyed of Ahmedabad, witness in Naroda-Patiya case. His first application was registered on March 7, 2008 and second on May 29, 2008.
7. Mohd Yasin Naimuddin Ansari of Ahmedabad, witness in 2002 riots cases.
8.Shaikh Azharuddin Imamuddin of Ahmedabad. During 2002 riots he was injured. At that time he was 10 years.
9. Sarjahah Kausar Ali Shaikh of Baroda. No details available.
List of Victims who were paid Rs 5,000 on 11/10/2007.
Mohammed Rafiq Abukar Pathan , Aslamkhan Anwarkhan Pathan, Pathan Saiyedkhan Ahmedkhan, Imtiyazhhan Saiyedkhan Pathan, Rashidkhan A. Pathan, Sairaben Salimbhai Sanghi, Ashraf Sikandarbhai Sanghi.