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Gulbarg residents want to file FIR against Teesta

The survivors of the riot accused activist Teesta Setalvad of using her NGOs to collect funds in their name, and not distributing it for their cause.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  New Delhi | 16th Mar 2013

Residents of Gulbarg Society with Teesta Setalvad during happier times.

he survivors of the Gulbarg Society riot attack in Gujarat have asked the Ahmedabad police to register a first information report (FIR) against social activist Teesta Setalvad. They have accused the activist of using her NGOs to collect donations in the name of the riot survivors and then misappropriating the same.

"I met the police officials and told him that there was a danger to my life because of her. More than 50 survivors are living in penury as the funds collected in our name have not reached us," said Feroz Pathan, a riot survivor.

The riot victims have accused Setalvad of cheating, fraudulent activities and criminal conspiracy. In a complaint to Ahmedabad's joint commissioner of police, the survivors, a total of ten families, have also submitted documents showing the source of funds received by Setalvad. According to the documents, the donors that have funded Setalvad's organisation include Middle East Hotel Company whose address in the documents is given as Chatwal Hotel Corporation, New York, but is based in Bahrain; Federations of Indian Muslims, Kuwait; and Dawn Chaser Corporation, a company which was formed by Anoushka Shankar in California.

Pathan alleged that despite repeated requests and a legal notice, Setalvad was not giving them the donation money, amounting to around Rs 1.5 crore, collected between 2008 and 2011.

Pathan also alleged that Tanvir Jafri, the son of the deceased Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was colluding with Setalvad and instead of supporting them, was helping her in misappropriating the money.

Another resident of Gulbarg society, Mohammad Ali said that the police should investigate whether the money collected by Setalvad as donation was transferred to her own accounts: " The police, when the investigation is going on, should freeze the account of Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and Sabrang Trust so that she can be stopped from transferring the money." These two NGOs have received generous support from the Centre for the Promotion of Social Concern, a Kerala based organisation and the United Nations Voluntary Funds for Victims of Torture, Geneva.

Setalvad, however, termed the complaint and the allegations as frivolous. In a response to this newspaper, she said that the letterhead of the society on which the complainant wrote the letter to the police was forged by them.

She also said that the CJP had never sought or received any money for the constructing a museum in the memory of the riot victims. "The cases being handled by us involve the most powerful in the state and relate to public justice and it appears that some vested interests have colluded to make false allegations and distract us from the onerous and dangerous task at hand," reads the statement.

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