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Teesta misused riot funds: Pathan

The activist’s former associate has alleged that she is using the money to holiday abroad.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  NEW DELHI | 19th Aug 2012

eesta Setalvad's Sabrang Trust received an amount of US $250,000 (nearly Rs 1.40 cr) in 2009 as a grant from the Ford Foundation to help the victims of the Gujarat riots. This has been disclosed by the New York-based Foundation on its website. As per Sabrang's website, the trust is managed by, among others, Gujarat based activist Setalvad.

Meanwhile, the activist's former associate Aziz Khan Pathan, who was working as a coordinator with another of Setalvad's NGOs, Citizens for Peace and Justice (CPJ), has alleged in an affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court that Setalvad has been misusing the money her trusts have received from various organisations for the rehabilitation of the riot victims.

"You can come to Gujarat and see how much money has been spent on genuine riot victims. She misused the money on holidaying with her family in Switzerland and the United States. She has not spent even 10% of the funds she received on the victims," Pathan alleged.

Pathan claims that Setalvad also "misused the money that she was supposed to pay to the victims by tutoring some of them" to lie in court. "I have already stated in my affidavit how she gave Rs 50,000 to select riot victims, who were then asked to toe a particular line in court."

It is worth mentioning that Zahira Sheikh, a witness in the Best Bakery case, had filed a criminal complaint against Setalvad, alleging that she was forced to give a false deposition by her. Zahira Sheikh had also alleged that Setalvad amassed a huge amount of wealth through dubious means and that her Mumbai-based NGO, Communalism Combat, was a business venture of a company known as Sabrang Publications Private Ltd.

Pathan, who filed a complaint against Setalvad last year, alleged that she was getting funds from many sources: "I know many things about the funding. They receive money from various sources. I will reveal each and every detail in court."

If Pathan has to be believed, then Setalvad is using the Gujarat riots as a means to gather funds. "She is trying to convert Gulbarg Society into a museum so that it can become another source for money," he alleged.

Pathan, who claims to have known Setalvad since 1993, said that she forced him out of his own community: "No one from my community believes me now. She used her resources to paint me as a criminal. It was I who provided her with information on the riot, the witnesses and the evidence. But she is now a celebrity, while I have to live like an outcaste. No one plays with my children nor does anyone talk to me."

 
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