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Teesta Setalvad is just the tip of anti-India iceberg

Firstpost logo Firstpost 30-06-2022 Francois Gautier
Teesta Setalvad is just the tip of anti-India iceberg © Provided by Firstpost Teesta Setalvad is just the tip of anti-India iceberg

Teesta Setalvad has been sent to jail — but for how long? With good lawyers, support from several Indian intellectuals and journalists, as well as the Western press, she may soon be out of jail.

One can gauge the level of her global connections from the fact that even the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) tweeted in her support. “We are very concerned by the arrest and detention of Teesta Setalvad and two ex-police officers and call for their immediate release. They must not be persecuted for their activism and solidarity with the victims of the 2002 Gujarat Riots.”

Interestingly, action against Teesta Setalvad has been initiated after the Supreme Court in its recent verdict said that the rights activist had exploited the emotions of the petitioner Zakia Jafri for her own “ulterior motives”.

With Teesta Setalvad being sent to jail, many BJP leaders and Narendra Modi supporters believe that “justice has been done at last”! I am not so sure about it, though. The harm, after all, has already been done: The hatred against Narendra Modi and the BJP — and indirectly against Hindus and India — has already been taken up by The New York Times in the US, The Guardian and BBC in the UK, Le Monde and France24 in France, among others. And it is here to stay.

Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, once said: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.” In the case of the 2002 Gujarat riots, truth has been deliberately negated so much that it has now become difficult to differentiate between truth and untruth. I think this was done cleverly by Teesta Setalvad. Yes, she lied, yes, she tutored witnesses, yes she diverted NGO funds, yes, she did perjury, and the harm is done…

Teesta Setalvad is accused of siphoning off funds contributed for the welfare of those affected by the 2002 riots. Raees Khan, a former associate of Setalvad, had claimed that funds which were to be used for educational purposes were misused. He had registered a complaint with the Ahmedabad crime branch in connection with the same. Yet her aura among Left-liberals and activists remain undiminished.


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Two decades of Gujarat riots: When narratives are distorted and grievances manufactured to create victimhood

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This brings us to the second point: That Teesta Setalvad is not alone in creating anti-India, anti-Hindu and anti-Modi narratives. It’s like a hydra-headed monster; you chop its head and another one pops up immediately. The truth is that there are many Teesta Setalvads, not only in India, but all over the world, particularly in the academic, media and publishers’ realms — Indians and often Hindus at that. Some of them are Nobel laureates like Amartya Sen, a few are as famous as Arundhati Roy; others may not be as illustrious as Sen and Roy, but they seamlessly contribute to push the devious agenda.

In the process, truth becomes the biggest casualty. Truth is that the riots began in Gujarat after the dastardly Godhra incident in which 59 Hindus, including 32 women and children, were burnt alive by a Muslim mob, led by a local Congress leader. It was a spontaneous Hindu mobilisation. When tens of thousands of outraged Hindus descend on roads, there is very little a government can do. There was simmering, pet-up anger and discontent among Hindus against the Muslim community, which came out in the open after the Godhra incident.

The Modi government will have to work hard to correct the anti-India narrative that has found bases across the word. There is an entire industry working to bash India, show it in bad colours, and project that democracy is in great danger in the subcontinent. And this industry still works uninterruptedly within the boundaries of India. Teesta Setalvad is just the tip of the anti-India iceberg. To think that her arrest alone would be enough to fix the narrative would be foolhardy, to say the least.

The author is a French journalist and author of ‘A History of India as It Happened’ ( His upcoming book ‘Aurangzeb’s Iconoclasm: Illustrations from Primary Source’ will be released by UP CM Yogi Adityanath in June. He is also building a museum of true Indian history in Pune. Views expressed are personal.

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